Developing a Neuro-Fuzzy Inference System to Assess the Appropriateness of Retail Types with Product Features

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Marketing, Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Farabi College, Qom, Iran.

2 Assistant Prof., Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Farabi College, Qom, Iran.


Objective: Retailers are one of the most fundamental parts of the supply and distribution chains. They have different explicit and implicit distinguishing features. These features can be considered as marketing or competitive tools that provide managers with useful information so that they can select their marketing combination accordingly. Understanding of their features and purchasing behaviors can significantly affect the companies’ sales. Regarding the retailers’ different intentions to buy a product, producers should inspect the appropriateness of the product features in different retail formats. This research aimed to evaluate the appropriateness of retail format with different product features in Iran.
Methodology: At first, a theoretical foundation of different product features and retail format was reviewed, and the factors affecting the choice of the product by the retail format were extracted. Then, in-depth interviews were conducted with 12 experts and store managers, and the collected data were analyzed using the content analysis method. At the interview stage, the expert and the individuals were selected for the interview if they had at least one of the criteria influencing the accurate answers. Finally, an adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference system was developed by MATLAB software to assess the appropriateness of the retail format with product features.
Findings: The findings of the qualitative content analysis stage showed the four characteristics of appearance, intrinsic, competitive, and price as the system inputs; in the inference stage, the findings showed the difference in the appropriateness of each type of retail with these characteristics. The results also showed that product characteristics play an important role in determining and deciding on the retail format and hence, each format will need to be aligned with the characteristics of its own appropriate product.
Conclusion: The results showed that the appearance is appropriate for convenience retailers, the competitive and intrinsic feature for supermarkets, the intrinsic and price feature for the flea market format, the competitive and price for hypermarkets, wholesale, as well as discount retailers, the appearance and intrinsic feature for specialty retailers, and finally the appearance and price features are appropriate for sales machine to increase the probability of sales. Producers can start producing the goods after they considered the features of the products which are accepted by the desired stores and paid attention to the products criteria which are suggested by the retail format and ultimately sell the product. This might make it easier for the products to enter a store and be placed on the shelves; in addition, because the store managers are regarded as one of our desired groups that are responsible to choose the product features and besides these managers choose the features based on the target customers’ opinions, ultimately the product circulation in the store shelves will increase.


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