The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Retail Research Projects

Centre for Retail Research at Lund University

The Centre for Retail Research at Lund University is a network organization that arranges research seminars and workshops and supports networking and applications for research funds from researchers (from LU) regarding trade. Here you will find a selection of our projects that our researchers are currently working on.

Current research projects

Today we consume far more than our planet can handle and society faces a major challenge in the transformation to sustainable consumption. Retail is important to succeed in this transition and several companies are testing different circular models. A common denominator for these projects is that the store plays a key role in getting close to the end customer and enabling circular flows. In other words, the stores are transformed to, so-called, circular logistics nodes to handle not just marketing/selling but also online order picking, returns handling, repairs, rentals, and second-hand sales. Despite the rapidly increasing relevance, the area is still relatively unexplored.

We address this gap and contribute to theory and practice by investigating how stores can be used as circular logistics nodes. The research project is carried out in close collaboration with retailers taking a leading role in this transformation. To understand opportunities and challenges with the circular transformation, a large number of stakeholders are also interviewed such as municipalities, urban planners, technology suppliers, and property owners. This enables a deeper understanding of what is required to use and scale up stores as circular logistics nodes. The study provides valuable knowledge and guidance by identifying driving forces, challenges, and solutions, as well as insights into how workplaces, processes and technology are changing to support circular flows. It also contributes to knowledge of how the surrounding society is affected and can contribute to facilitate the transformation towards sustainable consumption and circular economy within retail.

Participants: Joakim Kembro, Ebba Eriksson, Monica Mora Chaves
Duration: 2023-2026
Funder: Hakon Swenson Foundation

In recent times, we have seen sharply rising prices, e.g. for food and energy, and higher interest rates, which have eroded consumers' purchasing power. The project will study how these price rises affect food consumption. Detailed scanner data will be used to study consumption shifts within and between product groups, for consumers in different regions of Sweden. For example, how have price rises affected the sale of Swedish-produced and organic goods.

Participants: Jonas Nordström, Christian Jörgensen, Rebecca Swärd
Duration: 2023-2025
Funder: Handelsradet

Society faces a major challenge in the transformation to sustainable consumption. Retail is important to succeed in this transition and several companies test different models for circular flows. While pilot implementations are increasing, many challenges emerge when scaling up the various initiatives. Above all, challenges arise with designing efficient logistics and material handling and reaching profitability.

Circular retail involves a number of new flows, for example second hand and repairs, for which current logistics networks with associated warehouses and information systems are not designed. The transformation to circular retail means that the customers not only consume but also become a kind of supplier. Companies must therefore adjust their logistics for new flows and activities such as: pick-up and delivery of goods; inspection, quality assessment, handling and storage of used items; as well as the sale, rental and/or delivery of repaired products.

Logistics is crucial to changing the way we consume on a larger scale. To succeed in the transformation to circular retail, retailers are faced with several questions such as how circular material flows should be designed, and which material handling nodes are needed to handle different circular flows. The retail store being used as a circular node is an important piece of the puzzle, but to scale up circular retail, other/new types of material handling nodes may also be required. At the same time, pure e-tailers face the challenge that they do not have stores close to the customer where circular flows can be managed. Another challenge is the requirements on information systems, both in terms of new functionality (e.g. handling, storing and controlling used products) and integration between different nodes in the logistics network. Furthermore, retailers must balance customer requirements (e.g. range, lead time, price), requirements for logistics efficiency (profitability) and sustainability aspects (both working environment and climate impact) in the logistics network.

This project addresses these challenges and investigates how logistics networks should be designed and what types of material handling nodes and information systems that are required to support a transformation to and scale-up of circular retail.

Participants: Joakim Kembro, Ebba Eriksson
Duration: 2023-2025
Funding: Handelsradet

In the autumn of 2021, ten e-commerce companies and ten transport carriers gathered for a workshop to discuss the conditions for forming a common definition of what a fossil-free delivery is. A year later, an industry agreement was finalized and available for endorsement at Svensk Handel. Becoming part of the agreement is free of charge and is based on an agreement between e-retailers and transport carriers, which in turn makes it easier and more transparent for consumers who e-shop to choose a fossil-free delivery. The industry agreement for fossil-free deliveries clarifies the concept of fossil-free delivery and requires that other environmental concepts used at check-out be removed. A few exceptions are made for certifications such as the Nordic Ecolabel’s upcoming label for sustainable e-commerce transports.

To transform e-commerce into a sustainable system, more of this kind of collaboration is needed, where engaged traders and transport carriers join forces. Hopefully, the industry agreement for fossil-free delivery is the first of many joint concrete policy initiatives for more sustainable e-commerce.

Participants: Daniel Hellström, Josephine Darlington, Klas Hjort, Kristoffer Skjutare
Duration: 2021-2024
Funder: Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova)

Returns have long been considered a necessary evil in e-commerce. Return levels today have led to that many retailers are hit hard financially, which has led companies trying to limit the amount of returns but also reviewing the effectiveness of the return process. Part of this work is to digitize the return process and get a better flow and cost control. At the same time, it is discussed how we can transform today's linear economy into circular economy where resources are re-used or shared. We have two similar return flows where we want to limit today's returns, but at the same time build systems to increase the circular return flow. In one flow, it is mostly an internal, company, cost/profitability focus, while in the other, the environment, sustainability and the transition are in focus. This project tries to understand how we can do both and both improve profitability but not at the expense of the environment.

Participants: Klas Hjort, Daniel Hellström
Duration: 2023-2023
Funder: Triple F (Fossil Free Freight)

The overall goal of the entire project is to develop and operationalize appropriate, reliable, accessible and cost-effective efficiency measures (key figures) for an analysis of the Swedish freight transport system. These key figures will be developed taking into account the varying conditions of different subsystems and the different needs and roles of different stakeholders. The overall goal of the project is to generate new and vital knowledge that facilitates a reliable evaluation of the Swedish freight transport system’s transport efficiency and efficiency potential, as well as the development of models and tools to study effect relationships as a basis for policy measures for increased sustainability.

Participants: Daniel Hellström, Henrik Pålsson, Jessica Wehner, Sara Rogerson, Vendela Santén, Dan Andersson, Marta Gonzalez-Aregall
Duration: 2021-2026
Funder: Trafikverket

To be able to achieve the sustainable development goals, there is no doubt that we need to transform e-commerce into a sustainable system. Individual efforts are not enough. We need changes at the system level. We also know that innovation are crucial for tackling this global and complex societal challenge. To be able to achieve these comprehensive system changes, there must be national coordination of efforts to accelerate innovation. The aim of this initiative is to create a successful arena for collaboration and a competence centre for sustainable e-commerce.

Participants: Daniel Hellström, Josephine Darlington, Klas Hjort, Kristoffer Skjutare
Duration: 2021-2024
Funder: Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems (Vinnova)

Many users are either unable to or, during the age of the pandemic, unwilling to visit service points or open the door to deliveries of items such as groceries. This means that vital social functions are not accessible to all. By eliminating personal interaction with home deliveries and other services, the risk of spreading infection is minimised. At the same time, care providers are able to significantly increase their flexibility, enabling more time with the person receiving care. Similarly, delivery of other items, such as those for healthcare in the home can be made to a delivery box connected to the internet and close to the user’s home, thus minimising the need to travel to different service points. Home help staff can use an electronic key to collect the goods from the delivery box and take them to the user. The overall aim of the project is to investigate and describe elderly people’s experiences of new services such as contactless food delivery, and in what way these services can be developed to increase accessibility to other vital public services.

Participants: Klas Hjort, John Olsson, Daniel Hellström
Duration: 2021-2023
Funder: Familjen Kamprads Stiftelse

Last mile logistics is an emerging research area with growing interest from scholars and practitioners, especially over the past five years. The rapid growth is mainly driven by increasing urbanization and population growth, e-commerce development, changing consumer behavior, innovation, and growing attention to sustainability. Many definitions of last mile logistics exist, yet a common view is that it concerns the last stretch of the supply chain from the last distribution center to the recipient's preferred destination point. 

The last mile is often described as one of the most expensive, inefficient, and polluting parts of the supply chain. Therefore, a fast and efficient transition towards more sustainable last mile distribution is required. Little is known about the transition towards zero emission last mile distribution, therefore a more comprehensive understanding of this transition is required. The aim of this dissertation project is to contribute to enhanced understanding of the transition towards net-zero emission last mile distribution in omni-channel retail and its effects.

Participants: John OlssonDaniel HellströmHenrik Pålsson
Duration: 2018-2023

There is no doubt that packaging is a part of making a better everyday life. Packaging can also help to cut carbon emissions and generate less product waste, playing an important role in keeping the planet healthy. In overall, this project will emphasise that packaging protect and adds value to products, but it is necessary to integrate the processes of designing, evaluating and producing packages, in order to successfully fulfil these tasks. The purpose of this project is to develop and disseminate new knowledge and a novel decision-support tool to tackle the complex issue of managing the design and selection of consumer and transport packaging for sustainable development. The project is based on design science research, co-creation with IKEA, Tetra Pak and WWF.

Participants: Henrik Pålson, Daniel Hellström
Duration: 2020-2023
Funder: Familjen Kamprads stiftelse

The rate of implementation of automated warehouses has increased rapidly in recent years. This has effects on retail profitability and competitiveness as well as on sustainable work life and society. This project develops a framework for decision support and provides recommendations on how retailers should approach automation projects and the implementation of smart warehouses. It also contributes with knowledge development about the role of staff role and need for future skills in automated warehouses.

Participants: Joakim KembroAndreas Norrman
Duration: 2020-2023
Funder: Handelsradet

This project’s departure point is that the physical store is changing and a growing number of retail chains are experimenting with new store formats, such as show rooms, pop-up stores etc. These concept stores are a complement to traditional stores and they allow retailers to tailor their offerings to customer needs. Store performance is traditionally evaluated on the basis of sales but new format stores need to be evaluated and managed according to different variables. But which ones? And how? This project will answer these questions by studying new and established retail chains and their customers in Sweden and in the United Kindgdom.

Participants: Ulf Johansson, Jens Hultman, Steve Burt, Carys Egan-Wyer, Kristina Bäckström, Sofia Ulver
Duration: 2019-2024
Funder: Handelsradet

The purpose of this project is to highlight the volume and weight losses created by packaging and occurring along the entire supply chain, and makes assessments of their magnitude.

Participants: Noor Faizawati Badarudin, Daniel Hellström, Henrik Pålsson
Duration: 2019-2024 

Completed research projects

Being a good consumer was once synonymous with being a good citizen. When individuals shopped, they supported local farmers, national manufacturers and contributed to economic growth (Cohen, 2003; Coskuner-Balli, 2020). A good citizen, today, appears to be one that forgoes material desires rather than indulging them. And some consumers are using anti-consumption rather than consumption as way to construct their identities.

This trend obviously has consequences for retailers, but how exactly should they respond? This is an especially pressing question for those retailers whose business models are based on volume and unnecessary replacement of items, such as fashion retailers. But, in order to understand how retailers can respond to the anti-consumption trend, we must first understand the trend from a consumer perspective.

This research will use qualitative methods and a socio cultural approach to understand anti-consumption trends because consumer choices inside the store are not isolated from life outside the store nor from the kind of selves we want to present to the outside world.

Participants: Carys Egan-Wyer
Duration: 2021-2023
Funder: Handelsradet

This project is about understanding the challenges that retailers go through on there journey from using mainly one channel for selling, to multiple channels for selling. The challenges are in many of areas for a retailer, from how operations are organized to the logistics of fulfilment. A case study of IKEA retail is ongoing and currently we are in the process of publishing the first part of that study.

Participants: Ulf Johansson, Jens Hultman, Jonathan Reynolds, Steve Burt, John Dawson
Duration: 2014-2022
Funder: Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Ekonomihögskolan, Lunds universitet

The challenges that the retail industry is facing - including urbanization, unprecedented competition from new actors, and most importantly digitalization - put new demands on retail development, including their ways of managing and organizing around innovation. Previous studies have shown that innovation is not a completely understood concept in retail and that there is no systematic approach to innovation in this sector. The purpose of this research project is therefore to contribute to increasing the innovative capabilities of retail trade, particularly looking into how to create the conditions that could combine retail's strong focus in ongoing operations with a more long-term perspective and innovative focus. How can retail's work with continuous improvements, high efficiency and short lead times be combined with a higher degree of strategic and operational innovation management - to create and secure long-term value and competitiveness?

Participants: Malin Olander Roese, Karla Marie Batingan Paredes, Sofia Ritzen, Annika Olsson, Ulf Johansson
Duration: 2019-2022
Funder: Vinnova

The project addresses the relationship between sustainability, marine food resources, and a circular bio-based economy. We are interested in different ways of developing the added value of algae as a marine resource in a bio-based economy. The project’s overarching objective is to develop sustainable and secure processes for easing flows of sustainable consumption practices along the entire chain, from raw material to consumer.

Participants: Cecilia Fredriksson, Filippa Säwe, Eva Nordberg Karlsson, Charlotta Turner, Annabell Merkel, Thamani Freedom Gondo, Madeleine Jonsson
Duration: 2019-2021
Funder: Formas

Can innovations within food distribution such as e-commerce, food box schemes, and consumer-to-consumer food networks promote sustainable food consumption in the household?

Participants: Christian Fuentes, Emma Samsioe, Maria Fuentes
Duration: 2018-2021
Funder: Swedish Research Council

Transforming to omni-channel means retailers must design their networks and hubs to suit different contexts. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we have observed that sorting plays an increasingly important role in omni-channel logistics. In grocery retailers’ OFC, sorting is used to handle goal conflict and trade-offs between different management activities as well as to deal with different kinds of logic driven by, for example, the sending node, the management point, stores, vehicles and consumers. Retailers must decide when different types of sorting work best and how they are best performed in different situations. Another aspect concerns why different kinds of sorting should be automated and what kind of automation suits what kind of sorting. Different automation solutions are appropriate to different contexts. Hence, grocery retailers choose different future logistics solutions as well as different implementation and roll-out plans. It is interesting to understand the reasons motivating different transformation plans as well as the various challenges and benefits that they imply. This study, thus, aims to develop knowledge on grocery retailers’ omni-channel transformation of warehouse logistics, especially with regard to important decision factors and dynamic capabilities.

Participants: Ebba Eriksson, Joakim Kembro, Andreas Norrman
Duration: 2020-2022
Funder: Håkon Swenson Stiftelse

Training employees is necessary for companies to successfully meet future demands and challenges. Training also contributes to employee satisfaction because we grow as human beings when we learn something new and feel good when we master what we are expected to do. Unfortunately, many retail employees do not feel that they get the training they need. The majority of training happens via informal, learning at work but knowledge about learning at work is very limited and the potential for improvement is extensive. The purpose of this project is to explore how informal learning is applied in practice, and to disseminate knowledge about how different learning methods can contribute to competence development. Our goal is to identify successful learning techniques among the participating companies and their employees and, thereby, to increase the possibility for each individual to reach their maximum potential and for each business to support learning at work. The research project focuses on "how" rather than "what" one learns and, hence, on the mechanisms of learning. Learning is a complex and contextual process and focusing on learning mechanisms help us to understand how learning itself takes place. A distinctive feature of this project is that we study learning in specific professions and not in a single organisation or for a single individual. Different professions have different competence needs and, hence, have their own unique underlying learning mechanisms.

Participants: Daniel Hellström, Pernilla Derwik
Duration: 2020-2022
Funder: Handelsradet

This research project aims to explore the key drivers and barriers of adoption of platform-based health services for elderly patients with complex needs, and how healthcare providers can use different types of platforms to better fulfill the needs of such patients.

The research team will draw upon the platform approach (Thomas et al., 2014). At least in theory, different digital platforms enable improved coordination among the different agents involved in health care, e.g. public authorities, platform owners, doctors and patients (Aceto et al., 2018). However, despite the emergence of these platforms, many patients and doctors are not fully exploiting their potential benefits and call for subsequent improvements in health care services (Mann et al., 2015). 

The research team will study platforms developed by old and new entrants to the healthcare industry such as Kry, MinDoktor etc. to analyze the different configuration of platform designs and how they create different prerequisites for data-driven service improvement and innovation.

Participants: Johan Frishammar, Anna Essén, Javier Cenamor
Duration: 2020-2022
Funder: Familjen Kamprads stiftelse

 Discussions about how the future physical store will look dominate debates in Swedish (and international) retail. Retail has undergone significant changes in recent years, due to increasing digitalization and proliferation of retail channels. And customers have also changed in terms of their knowledge and behaviour. We already know that retail personnel are crucial in creating the customer experience, whether positive or negative, but we need to know more about the challenges they face in today’s customer meetings. In this research project, we focus on the role of retail employees in physical service encounters: What do today's customers demand and how are these demands expressed in store? What conditions do personnel have—and what conditions do they need—to be able to meet changing customer demands and behaviour? In this project, we will explore these questions, through studies of five large, Swedish retailers from various industries. The study involves data collection in stores as well as at the central level of the organisations—to understand the organisational conditions that help retail personnel to handle today's service encounters.

Participants: Ulf Johansson, Kristina Bäckström, Jens Nordfält
Duration: 2018-2020
Funder: Handelsradet

This project studies how to best build and maintain the consumer trust in data-driven and personalised services. Focus is on the degree of transparency that is practically possible and suitable for extensive collection and use of individuals' data. The project is led by Associate Professor, Stefan Larsson, from Lund University, in collaboration with think tank, Fores. The reference group includes, economist and digitalisation expert Anna Felländer and representatives from the Swedish retail industry, the Swedish Consumer Agency, SEB and Dustin.

Participants: Stefan Larsson
Duration: 2018-2021
Funder: Handelsradet, Fores

Omni-channel retail has grown tremendously in recent years, particularly in the grocery sector, making Sweden the Nordic country with the largest online presence. The rapid growth poses challenges to last mile deliveries, which are often described as complicated, costly and inefficient. Therefore, various emerging technologies and innovations have been explored in recent years, particularly with regards to goods reception solutions. These solutions include among for example self-service technologies, smart locks, collection and delivery points, and reception boxes. Despite the growing body of literature, previous research does not capture how the customers create expectations, experience and eventually value in relation to such technology. Thus, this research project aims to explore, understand and report consumers’ expectations of unattended delivery systems.

Participants: Mary Catherine Osman, Daniel Hellström, John Olsson, Yulia Vakulenko
Duration: 2019-2021

Retail companies increasingly offer their customers a seamless shopping experience where sales via physical stores and e-commerce are integrated in an omnichannel retailscape. Efficient management of goods and returns is challenging in omnichannel grocery, where goods often have different, and tougher, logistical demands--shorter lifespans, shorter delivery times, requirements for special temperatures, etc. In addition to stores, distribution may also contain different storage points that are more or less adapted for handling different order sizes or types of goods. Both traditional retail and e-commerce players must adapt to be able to manage logistics in omnichannels. An overarching question is to what extent different physical flows must be separated or integrated between different channels and their specialized handling nodes, as well as how the challenges that arise can be handled in the best way. ​

Participants: Ebba Eriksson, Joakim Kembro, Andreas Norrman
Duration: 2017-2019
Funder: Håkon Swenson Stiftelse

The project created knowledge about how parcel lockers could be integrated into urban/community development linked to accessibility and create knowledge about consumer effects.

Participant: Klas Hjort, Daniel Hellström, Yulia Vakulenko, Anette Svingstedt
Duration: 2016-2019
Funder: Vinnova

There are major differences between virtual and physical retailing, among other things in how products are presented (e.g. the size of a physical package and the small images displayed in a first product view online) and in what context (e.g. a shelf where you can quickly get an overview of how large the range is and a website that shows a limited part of the range). Differences in the way information is presented visually affect which products consumers pay attention to and what they choose to buy. In this project, researchers used eye movement measurement to study how these factors affect consumers in a store environment and on a computer screen to see precisely how consumers are affected by the differences between the virtual and the physical store.

Participants: Kerstin Gidlöf, Nils Holmberg, Annika Wallin
Duration: 2017-2018
Funder: Håkon Swenson Stiftelsen

Follow us

Follow us on social media for the latest news and insights from the Centre for Retail Research at Lund University.


X (formerly Twitter)