Summer Retail Reading with an Asian flavour?

It’s not that I have more time in the summer, but rather I try to clean up my office (and it really does need it, as colleagues will attest). The problem is that I end up discovering things I had either forgotten about or had put to one side to look at and/or read later. That gets me interested in reading them again, and the house-keeping and tidying goes out the window (which may be the only answer to some of my untidiness).

This blog is in that vein. As I moved piles of paper around and sorted out what should go where (round bin, recycling bag, shredder are the common options – where does it all come from?) I came across a number of books I’ve recently been sent. Four of them sort of fit together in an international and internationalisation theme and so I thought I’d bring them together and comment briefly on them here.

Strategies in retailing have increasingly become international and/or global. John Dawson and Masao Mukoyama have edited and recently published a volume looking at the different Asian and European experiences in this area. With both theoretical and practical contributors this volume provides great case studies and generalisations. Cases include Nitori, President, Lotte, IKEA, Muji, Delhaize and the Metro Group. Interesting and thought-provoking conceptualizations top and tail these cases, making this an informative and stimulating read.

The impacts of such transnational retailers as those in the cases in the Dawson/Mukoyama book, are often seen as a retail revolution producing disruptive interventions in various markets (and leading to public policy restrictions and protections). Endo Gen, a Japanese scholar with a long-term interest in Thailand has set out to examine the context in which this revolution is meant to take place in Thailand and its impact to date. This detailed volume concludes that revolution is a misnomer, with increased diversification being the hallmark of impact and not the over-throw of the previous regime. Industry evolution scholars might ask about the long-run situation, but this volume provides a valuable detailed study of Thailand in transition.

This focus on context is also a theme of the book by Kazuo Usui on Marketing and Consumption in Modern Japan. Belying its title, the book is also an historical journey through the 20th century and retail change in Japan. The book explores how marketing made the discourse of westernisation an everyday reality for Japanese consumers. It draws a development line from keiretsu through department stores and super self-service stores to convenience stores.

Finally, the Japanese versions of the western convenience store has been a fascination for many for some time, including my work on 7-Eleven and Southland. David Marutschke looks at the continuous improvement strategies of Japanese convenience store operators. Based on his PhD thesis this is an impressive detailed review of convenience store operators, focusing on how to obtain long-run continuous improvement.

I have no doubt that as you pack your Kindle (or e-reader of choice) for the summer you will want to forget about academic work on retailing. But, these four volumes, each in their own ways, provide interesting and informative studies on the continuing international and global developments in retailing, and especially those with an Asian flavour. They might not be beach-perfect, but they are worth a read.


Dawson, J. and M. Mukoyama (eds) (2014) Global Strategies in Retailing. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-64429-7.

Gen, E. (2013) Diversifying Retail and Distribution in Thailand. Silkworm Books. ISBN 978-616-215-057-9.

Usui, K. (2014) Marketing and Consumption in Modern Japan. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-32313-0.

Marutschke, D. (2012) Continuous Improvement Strategies: Japanese Convenience Store Systems. Palgrave. ISBN 978-0-230-34793-9.

About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
This entry was posted in Academics, Books, Convenience stores, International Retailing, Marketing, Retailing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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