Investing in Research – Keeping it Fresh

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Someone recently asked why it is that the ECR Community Shrink & OSA Group has kept going for so long? There are numerous explanations, not least the generosity of its members in hosting meetings and sharing data, but the main driver is that the group has consistently delivered new research insights and practical tools to help its members improve their own operations and produce better results. For example, one European member retailer reported that they had leveraged the Fresh Case Cover metric tool developed from the ECR research with the University of Eindhoven to inspire food waste savings of over €1million.

To set its research agenda, the Group has, since its inception, regularly reflected on the current and emerging challenges facing its members and their organisations, and agreed on the key questions that new research from academia could answer to meet them.

A typical ECR-funded research project usually has two main objectives. The first is to provide data concerning the nature and scale of a given problem or challenge: to what extent is it happening, how much is it costing, what are the main reasons why it is happening etc., these help members acquire new data points that they can then use within their organisation to inspire and or benchmark their own performance. For example: one retailer used the data from the employee engagement study to calculate for their organisation the financial benefits of improved store associate engagement.

The second broad objective for ECR research projects is to document best practice, and create a road map or checklist that organisations can use to ‘action’ the research. For example, a recent study provided 65 best practices to ‘Sell More and Waste Less’.

For 2017, our research agenda is busier than in any previous year, with five research projects underway on the topics of: Inventory Accuracy, Self-Scan, Collaboration on food waste reduction, RFID, and Click and Collect Returns. They are supported by academics from universities across Europe including the EM-LYON Business School (France), the Cardiff Business School (UK), Technische Universität Darmstadt (Germany), Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands), Kuhne Logistics University (Germany), the University of Portsmouth (UK) and the University of Leicester (UK).

Over the next few weeks the ECR Community Shrink and OSA Group will give an update on each of these projects;

1)   Inventory Accuracy – does more accurate inventory grow sales, if so by how much and what investment is required to improve it?

2)   Self-Scan Systems – what is the measurable impact of these systems on levels of retail loss, what are the main drivers of self-scan related losses (such as malicious and non-malicious causes), and what strategies and interventions are being used to mitigate these losses?

3)  Collaboration – what does it take for it to be sustained and how can retail organisations get started?

4)   RFID – How do you make it pay?

5)   Omni-Channel Returns – What is the true cost of a return?

If any of these research projects are of interest to your organisation, and you would like to contribute to the research, please do not hesitate to get connected to the ECR Group. However, if you just want to be one of the first to read the conclusions and start to use the tools, then make sure to bookmark the ECR Group’s website and plan to attend one of the future meetings where the academics will present their findings.

Finally, as with all the articles in the ECR series, the aim has been to stimulate new thinking and ideas; one way you could do this would be to add these topics to your next team meeting agenda.

For those interested in learning more about ECR Community Shrink & OSA Group, then please visit the website (

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