Supply Chain Management and the Evolution of the 'Big Middle'

Journal of Retailing, Forthcoming

20 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2005

See all articles by James R. Brown

James R. Brown

West Virginia University - College of Business & Economics

Rajiv Dant

Clarkson University - School of Business

Charles A. Ingene

University of Mississippi - School of Business Administration

Patrick Kaufmann

Boston University - Department of Marketing

Abstract

The authors define the "Big Middle" as the marketspace in which the bulk of retailers compete for the majority of customers and the preponderance of expenditures occur. Therefore, it is the space in which retailers aspire to exist in their quest for increased revenues, scale economies, and profits. An enduring concept, the Big Middle appears in any economy in which large-scale retailing has developed. In general merchandise retailing in the U.S., there have been three Big Middle subperiods, each defined by a distinct branch of the general merchandising tree; driven by geographic, technological, and socioeconomic changes; and dominated by preeminent retail chains. During the variety store subperiod, the F.W. Woolworth chain dominated. In the national-chain department store subperiod, Sears Roebuck and JCPenney were the primary retailers, and in the modern discounter subperiod, Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Target have emerged as leaders. The authors argue that the development of these subperiods and the success of their major retailers have depended on the efficient and effective flow of merchandise from suppliers to customers. Optimizing this flow always has entailed harnessing current technology, given the geographic and socioeconomic realities of the time. Currently, technology facilitates a comprehensive application of supply chain management, whereas previous technology only permitted a simplified version.

Keywords: Retailing, WalMart, KMart, JCPenney, Sears, Dollar General, Retailing Evolution, Wheel of Retailing

Suggested Citation

Brown, James Richard and Dant, Rajiv and Ingene, Charles A. and Kaufmann, Patrick, Supply Chain Management and the Evolution of the 'Big Middle'. Journal of Retailing, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=662241

James Richard Brown

West Virginia University - College of Business & Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 6025
Morgantown, WV 26506
United States

Rajiv Dant (Contact Author)

Clarkson University - School of Business ( email )

Potsdam, NY 13699-5780
United States

Charles A. Ingene

University of Mississippi - School of Business Administration ( email )

PO Box 3986
Oxford, MS 38677
United States

Patrick Kaufmann

Boston University - Department of Marketing ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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