Journal article

Joint product assortment, inventory and price optimization to attract loyal and non-loyal customers

In this paper, we analyze the emerging retail practice of carrying a combined product assortment consisting of both regular "standard" products and more fashionable and short-lived "special" products. The purpose of this practice is to increase store traffic by attracting heterogeneous classes of customers, which drives up sales of standard products due to the potential cross-selling effect. Customers who are primarily attracted by special products will also buy some standard products. In this context, we analyze three decisions that are crucial for a retailer's commercial success: the product assortment, the inventory levels and the pricing. We propose an optimization model and an iterative heuristic to analyze the tradeoffs between the combined product assortment, the inventory level and the price per product when there is limited shelf space. Using numerical experiments, we show that our heuristic can be trusted and that its accuracy improves when the number of products increases. Our findings indicate that to attract more customers for standard products, a retailer may benefit from carrying low priced special products which, if considered in isolation, would be non-profitable. As the cross-selling effect decreases, a retailer should focus more on the standard assortment by increasing its size and decreasing the prices. However, introducing special products and ignoring the cross-selling effect may decrease a retailer's profitability. We show that the introduction of special products involves more than just choosing the right specials for non-loyal customers but impacts the global assortment planning, the standard products and the products pricing. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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