Practices of stock management in retail: a panorama of Brazilian scientific production

André Andrade Longaray


Federal University of Rio Grande – FURG, Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Vilmar Antonio Gonçalves Tondolo


Federal University of Pelotas – UFPEL, Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Rodrigo Lopes Ávila


Federal University of Rio Grande – FURG, Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Paulo Roberto Munhoz


Federal University of Rio Grande – FURG, Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Rosana da Rosa Portella Tondolo


Federal University of Pelotas – UFPEL, Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Aléssio Bessa Sarquis


University of Southern Santa Catarina – UNISUL, Tubarão, Santa Catarina, Brazil


Market competitiveness requires operations with efficiency and productivity. In the retail sector, stock management consolidates as a relevant issue, as it affects the efficiency and productivity of operations. This study aimed to characterize the Brazilian scientific production on stock management in the context of retail, published between 2006 and 2015. The study is exploratory in nature and it involved a bibliographic review of scientific papers published in SciELO and Google Scholar databases. The technique of analysis used was bibliometrics. The results indicate that, among the inventory management practices used, logistic collaboration is the most studied (13% of the sample); 5% of the authors who published on the subject account for 30% of the articles; there is a need to broaden the studies on the subject, using quantitative methods such as field survey.

Keywords: Logistics; Inventory Management; Bibliometric Analysis; Retail.


In modern society, the retail sector comprises several economic activities and is responsible for the sale and delivery of goods to final customers. According to data from the Monthly Trade Survey (PMC), in Brazil, in 2015, retail sales fell in terms of volume: in June, the drop was 0.4% in relation to the previous month; in the year, the retraction was 2.2%. In the apparel, footwear and fabrics sectors, the drop was 4.6% (IBGE, 2015).

The drop in sales volume directly affects retailers' inventory levels and the efficiency of operations. Research by the National Confederation of Merchandise, Services and Tourism (CNC) revealed that, in 2015, about 29% of entrepreneurs reported having higher than necessary inventories and that the excess of stored goods requires the use of settlement strategies, promotion and/or stock clearance (CNC, 2015).

Accioly et al. (2008) stated that the excess of stocks tends to generate the need to increase the invested capital and to jeopardize the return of investments. Veraldo Jr. et al. (2008) pointed out that the excess of goods generates extra costs, including with depreciation, conservation, obsolescence and deterioration of products. In order to improve organizational efficiency and productivity, it is essential to reduce the level of inventories and/or capital investments (Toledo et al., 2010).

As Viegas et Sellitto (2015) points out, in the retail sector, inventory management affects the quality of service and sales offered to customers. It also affects sales revenues, market competitiveness and the organization's financial performance (Accioly et al., 2008). Thus, it is important to equate the needs of inventory demand and productivity, and to have efficiency in the process of storage and delivery of goods to customers.

Within this perspective, a survey of the scientific production on practices of stock management in the retail is relevant, it can help in the expansion of the knowledge on the subject and to provide to the managers information on the most used management practices, as well as guidelines for planning stock policies. With this, the following research question emerges: What are the characteristics of Brazilian scientific production on inventory management practices in the context of the retail sector? Thus, the study aims to characterize the Brazilian scientific production on inventory management practices in the retail sector, published between 2006 and 2015. For this purpose, a bibliometric survey was carried out in the Brazilian scientific articles published in the databases SciELO and Google Scholar.

This article is divided into five sections. After the introduction, section 2 presents the theoretical reference on practices of stock management and supply chain management. Section 3 describes the methodological framework used in the study, based on bibliometric analysis. Section 4 presents the results of data collection. And finally, section 5 presents the final considerations, with limitations and suggestions for future studies on the subject.


The business logistics brought new insight into the area, which until then was mainly responsible for the movement of materials. Over time, it was found that, in order to deliver a product in the right quantity and location and in the desired period of time, it is essential, rather than moving or transporting these goods, the management of inventories, that is, the management of the storage, production and acquisition of products, as well as the way the related information circulates among interested parties/areas (Machline, 2011). With this, other variables pertinent to the transport of materials were highlighted.

Business logistics efforts typically include internal company activities. However, supply chain management comprises from the beginning of the process to the links between suppliers and end customers. In addition to the concern with what happens during the chain, collaboration between the parties involved in the supply chain is necessary, aiming at higher levels of productivity and efficiency (Machline, 2011). This collaboration tends to intensify on special occasions such as events, sales promotions and product release.

According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP, 2013), supply chain management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in researching and procuring materials and acquiring and managing logistics activities. It also includes coordination and collaboration with supply channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, customers and other interested parties/areas. Supply chain management requires integration between supply and demand and between the companies involved; it also requires the relationship with other sectors/areas of the company, such as marketing, sales, production, financial and information technology.

A relevant goal of inventory management is to balance the level of the company's inventory with the level of customer demand, serving both the interests of the company and those of its customers. The optimum level of inventories guarantees sufficient products to meet expected sales/demand, without the need to increase inventory investments. Some factors influence the optimal level of inventories, which are: (sales volume (the higher the volume of sales, the greater the need for products in stock); variety of products (the greater the number of items/articles, the smaller the inventory turnover); size of the company (large companies need more volume and variety of products); frequency of orders/sales (the more frequent the orders, the lower the inventory levels).

As for typology, inventories can be classified in different ways. According to Pick et al. (2011), there is security stock, which is needed to offset business uncertainties; cycle stock, which maintains the supply of materials, even when the products are not produced simultaneously and continuously; stock of anticipation, which is prepared prior to demand; and stock in the distribution channel, which is stored along the supply chain, usually due to the delay in shipping goods to the retailer.

Stock costs vary according to the quantity of products required. These costs include the costs of purchasing, preserving and maintaining products, and they vary according to how much is requested and when it is requested. The most relevant costs are generally (Pick et al., 2011): order execution, which includes costs with preparation/issuing of orders, inspection/receipt of materials and registration/payment of orders; cost of lack of inventory, that is, sales that are no longer realized due to lack of products; storage cost, which refers to the way in which the products are stored; costs of obsolescence related to product disuse, either because it is outdated or because the expiration date has expired.

In the context of retail companies, inventories represent a significant part of operating costs, and may reach 70-85% of total cost (Toledo et al., 2010). In retail, net sales are the difference between the cost of goods sold and the selling price to the consumer. In stock management, reducing the cost of stocking has a positive impact on the organization's profit margin. With this, inventory management and control are relevant to the organization's performance.

Inventory control requires information on the inventory levels of the different products and the comparison of the actual (consumed) quantity in relation to the planned quantity. Such information can be obtained and passed on orally or visually; however, when it is documented, it tends to facilitate further analysis or retrieval of data. Inventory control can also enable optimization of inventories and reduction of lost sales due to lack of products (Kunigami et Osório, 2009). As Machado et Tondolo (2014) point out, the lack of products at the point of sale can compromise the performance and the image of the retailer with the customers.

In the supply chain, the retailer is the last intermediary agent and one that relates directly to the final consumer. The interaction of the retailer with other agents in the chain occurs according to the variation in sales volume/orders and, consequently, inventory availability, and it directly affects the inventories of wholesalers, manufacturers and suppliers involved. Thus, the retailer is the most sensitive link in the variation of the demand of final customers (Toledo et al., 2010) and influences the performance of the chain.

In this context, we highlight the collaborative logistics, which seeks to promote work with companies involved in a given supply chain, with trust, loyalty and mutual help. The collaborative logistics enables the reduction of costs and the shared use of equipment/resources. To this end, different stakeholders in the supply chain need to have common goals and objectives, and an integrated communication system. In addition, there is a need for performance indicators to ensure collaboration between the companies involved, management participation and commitment of employees (Vieira et al., 2013).

Finally, inventory management requires adequate competitive strategies, such as interorganizational trust and relationship management among supply chain participants. Interorganizational trust can represent competitive advantage because relationships between organizations are difficult to imitate and/or replicate by competitors. In addition, because legal documents are not able to predict all possible eventualities, interorganizational trust can help ensuring that routine tasks are carried out in an adequate and sustainable way (Tacconi et al., 2014). Thus, relevant topics such as collaborative logistics and inventory management can be studied from the perspective of what is exposed in the scientific literature, which makes it relevant to conduct a systematic review of the Brazilian scientific production on stock management practices in the retail context.


This research is characterized as exploratory and uses a quantitative approach. To meet the proposed objective, a bibliometric analysis of the Brazilian scientific production on stock management practices in the retail context was carried out. Bibliometrics is the study of quantitative aspects of the production, dissemination and use of registered information (such as scientific production in a certain area), from mathematical models and patterns (Sciasci et al., 2012). The research encompasses two phases of bibliometric analysis: the collection of references/articles necessary to fulfill the established objective; and the presentation and descriptive analysis of the results, using statistical techniques (Kleinubing, 2010; Longaray et al., 2015, 2016).

In this study, data collection involved the search and selection of scientific articles available on the Internet, in selected online databases. In this search, articles originating from annals of events (meetings and symposia) and from scientific journals related to the areas of administration, logistics and production engineering, as presented in Appendix A, were consulted. The choice of these sources (periodicals and annals) was based on the frequency of publications on the subject in the selected databases: SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) and Google Scholar. Thus, we sought to obtain the Brazilian scientific production on inventory management practices with fidelity within the stipulated parameters. The collection of articles/references occurred in October 2015.

In the SciELO database, the search was made based on the research indexes. In all, eight searches (1-8) were performed, using the following expressions: logistics and inventory; stock and retail; supplies and retail; logistics and retail; logistics and supplies; practice and management and stock; practices and management and stock; performance and management and stock. Table 1 shows the number of the search, the expression used and the number of results obtained. In Google Scholar, in turn, the search for articles was performed by searching for expressions and articles related to the topics searched. Eight surveys (9-16) were carried out, using the following expressions: inventory management; logistics supplies; internal logistics; supply chain management; supply chain; materials management; business logistics; and logistics practices. Table 1 also contains the number of the research, the expression used and the results obtained.

Table 1. Research carried out in the SciELO and Google Scholar databases


Source: Research Data

After searching the respective databases, the identified articles were filtered, excluding those that were repeated, those not available in full-text format, those published outside the stipulated period or that did not have full alignment with the scope of the present study. In the SciELO database, 83 articles were found; of this sample, seven were repeated and 32 were rejected because they were not related to the scope of the study. Thus, 44 articles were selected in this database. In Google Scholar, 655 articles were found. Of these, 56 were selected to complete the final portfolio of references/articles to be analyzed. The complete list of articles included in the final sample is available in Appendix B. The selected articles were then analyzed in thematic categories, according to the study objective, namely: production study and authorship; study of content; study of bibliographic references.


This section contains the presentation and analysis of the results of this research. First, the results of the study of production and authorship are shown, followed by the results of the study of the content; finally, the results concerning the study of bibliographic references.

Results of the study of production and authorship

The study of production and authorship sought to raise the amount of publications per year and to analyze the amount of authors of the published articles. It also sought to identify the most prolific authors and universities in the subject, listing them according to the number of publications in the studied period. In order to verify the quantitative evolution of scientific production in relation to the logistic management practices, a histogram was constructed with the quantity of publications per year, as well as the respective line of linear tendency, represented in Figure 1. It is verified that the sample production, in the analyzed period, shows a tendency to reduce by one article per year, with a determination coefficient of 0.05. As can be seen, there is a certain downward trend in the publications on the subject. The period 2008-2011 represents 50% of the total volume of articles published on the topic in the period.

Figure 1. Evolution of publications per year


Source: Research Data

Table 2 shows the classification of the article sample in relation to the number of authors per article. Most articles contain two or three authors/researchers (69% of the sample) and there are few studies with only one or more authors (14%). Thus, it is observed that most of the studies published on the subject involved partnerships between authors/researchers and, eventually, between different universities/institutions.

Table 2. Number of authors per article


Source: Research Data

To identify the most prolific authors in the topic, the authors' production was analyzed considering the participation in the sample of selected articles. Table 3 presents those authors with three or more published articles, and their respective percentage in the total of authors raised. The most productive authors in the theme are: Wanke, P., with five participations; and Vieira, J. and Sellitto, M, with four participations each.

Table 3. Authors with more participation in the sample


Source: Research Data

Finalizing the authorship study, the most prolific universities in the scientific production on the subject were analyzed, considering the institutions of the authors of the articles. Table 4 shows the relationship of the institutions with the number of articles and the percentage in relation to the total number of articles. In total, 58 institutions/universities were surveyed; the most productive were in the sample of selected articles: the University of São Paulo (USP), with 23 articles (16.7%); Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), with 9 articles (6.7%); and the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), with 7 articles (5.1%). The Fundação Getúlio Vargas (EAESP-FGV), the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and the University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS) contributed with 6 (4.3%) articles each. Thus, it is observed that a significant amount of the national scientific production on the subject comes from institutions located in the Southeast region of Brazil, specifically the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Table 4. Universities with more participation in the sample


Source: Research Data

Content study results

With regard to the content of the articles selected, we verified the most frequently used practices in the studies published in the analyzed period, the most recurrent keywords in the articles selected and the most used research methodologies. Table 5 presents the results of the most discussed subtopics in the articles analyzed. In this table only the practices that appeared in at least five articles of the sample, out of 25 identified subtopics, are described. Logistic collaboration was the most frequent (13 articles), followed by competitive strategies (10 articles), stock control (9 articles) and level of logistics formalization (9 articles). The thematic performance measurement and information technology were also well addressed practices, present in eight scientific articles each. With this, it can be noted that logistic collaboration and competitive strategies are highlighted topics in Brazilian academic studies on the management of inventories in the context of the retail sector.

Table 5. Most discussed subtopics in selected articles


Source: Research Data

The most frequent keywords are related to the search expressions (descriptors) used in the data collection of this study. The results shown in Table 6 refer to expressions that appeared at least five times. Overall, 254 keywords were identified. The expression that appeared more often was logistic (26 times), present in 26% of the articles of the sample. Then expressions of supply chain management (16%) and supply chain (14%). Besides these, the words retail and stock are among the most used, appearing 12 and 10 times, respectively. Thus, it should be noted that the frequency of keywords is related to the importance given to management practices and strongly emphasizes expressions related to the logistics area.

Table 6. Summary of identified keywords


Source: Research Data

Finally, in the study of the content, the most used methods and methodological procedures were identified in the selected studies, as summarized in Table 7. The case study was the most used research strategy, present in 21 articles (20%), followed by the literature review, with 15 articles (14.2%). The research in the form of field survey and exploratory research were also approached: 12 and 10 articles, respectively. Thus, there is a need to expand studies on the subject, through descriptive and multiple case studies.

Table 7. Summary of the most used research methodologies


Source: Research Data

Results of the study of bibliographic references

At the stage of the analysis of the references of the selected articles, we sought to identify the most relevant bibliographic references in the 100 selected articles. For that, the 4,953 references were analyzed. Table 8 shows the characteristics of the most influential references (in terms of the number of citations in Google Scholar), with authors, title and type of document. The analysis of the title of the cited references shows a relationship with the keywords and management practices previously identified, focusing on the area of logistics. In the research method, the most cited are two works, one book (Yin, R.) and one paper (Eisenhardt, K), which deal with the case study strategy.

Table 8. Works of greatest repercussion between the cited references


Source: Research Data

The present bibliometric study also sought to analyze the articles of greater relevance. To do so, we analyzed the sum of two indicators: 1) number of times the article was quoted in the Google Scholar database; and 2) number of times the article was quoted in the references of the selected articles themselves. Google Scholar informs you how many times the selected article has been cited in other documents. Based on this information, all 100 articles selected were consulted on this basis on November 22, 2015. Then, to compose the second indicator, the citations of the selected articles were counted in the 4,953 references used.

Table 9 presents the list of the 15 most relevant articles. In the first column it contains the identification number of the article ("ID") in the list of 100 selected articles; in the second column it contains the title; the third column contains the year of publication; and, in the fourth, the source/journal. The fifth and sixth columns are formed by the indicators of the number of citations in Google Scholar (GS) and bibliographical references (BR), respectively. Finally, the seventh column presents the summation (Σ) of the number of citations of each article analyzed. The most cited references address the most frequent practices and keywords in the studies, highlighting the terms logistics, supply chain, competitiveness and logistics collaboration.

Table 9. Selected articles in order of relevance


Source: Research Data


This study aimed to characterize the Brazilian scientific production on stock management practices in the retail context of the period from 2006 to 2015. For this, the bibliometrics technique was used in the execution of the study of production, authorship, content and bibliographical references of the selected articles.

The results of the study revealed that the main practices are logistic collaboration, competitive strategies and inventory control. This characteristic indicates that the main research practices on retail stock management follow the trend of emphasizing logistics, competitiveness and the establishment of strategic partnerships. These practices affect the management of retail companies and serve as a reference for the development of inventory management strategies. Regarding the research method used in the articles analyzed, the results pointed out that the case study is the most used. This characteristic emphasizes the need for more quantitative studies and in the form of field surveys, as well as the analysis of the types of studies and case studies developed, that is, if the studies meet the criteria that require a single case study, especially that of singularity of the case.

As for the most prolific authors, we can highlight: Peter Fernandes Wanke (UFRJ), José Geraldo Vidal Vieira (UFScar), Miguel Afonso Sellitto (UNISINOS), Danilo Hisano Barbosa (USP) and Fernando Henrique Oliveira de Aguiar. The universities that stood out the most were USP, UFRJ, UFSCar, and UNISINOS. This result indicates which Brazilian researchers and universities are leading the research on inventory management in the context of the retail sector.

It should be highlight the number of articles analyzed and the databases themselves as limitations of this research. In addition, the bibliographic references presented greater difficulty for analysis due to their high number and their lack of standardization. As suggestions for future studies, there is a need to investigate stock management practices in the retail context in the clothing, footwear and fabric branches, since no studies produced in these branches of activity were found in this sample. In the scope of bibliometric research, it is recommended to increase the number of analyzed journals, databases and/or the performance of a comparative analysis between the national and international scientific production on the subject.


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Received: April 08, 2015.

Approved: October 11, 2017.

DOI: 10.20985/1980-5160.2017.v12n4.1195

How to cite: Longaray, A.A.; Tondolo, V.A.G.; Ávila, R.L et al. (2017), “Practices of stock management in retail: a panorama of Brazilian scientific production”, Sistemas & Gestão, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 477-490, available from: http://www.revistasg.uff.br/index.php/sg/article/view/1195 (access day abbreviated month. year).

Appendix A - Sources of data used in the survey

Figura Figura

Source: survey data

Appendix B – Complete list of articles

Figura Figura Figura Figura Figura Figura Figura

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