Exploring the system of digitised retail design—flattening the ontology

Signe Mørk Madsen*, Ann Petermans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The objective of this article is to combine the two dominant perspectives of retail design— design and business—through systems thinking and flat ontology, in order to understand the ‘store’ as designed by retail designers in the new digital area. Using an abductive case study of the Danish retail design world, this article connects actors into a system, redefines 'the store’ as an interface between retailer and customer, and attaches the metaphors ‘observed universe’ and ‘extended self’ of owner managers to collectively designed spaces. The implication of the study is a retail design (and business) canvas. The article's practical contribution is clarifying the profession of retail design under the condition of digitised retail, and to present a first step towards a system-based theory for retail design. Managerial contribution: The article redefines the store as an interface affording customers' and retailers’ exchange of product and experiential interaction with the aim of providing adequate revenue.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102053
JournalJournal of Retailing and Consumer Services
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Flat ontology
  • Omnichannel
  • Retail design
  • Systems thinking
  • Universe


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