Often models for understanding the impact of management practices on retail performance are developed under the assumption of stability, equilibrium and linearity, whereas retail operations are considered in reality to be dynamic, non-linear and complex. Alternatively, discrete event and agent-based modelling are approaches that allow the development of simulation models of heterogeneous non-equilibrium systems for testing out different scenarios.
When developing simulation models one has to abstract and simplify from the real world, which means that one has to try and capture the ‘essence’ of the system required for developing a representation of the mechanisms that drive the progression in the real system. Simulation models can be developed at different levels of abstraction. To know the appropriate level of abstraction for a specific application is often more of an art than a science. We have developed a retail branch simulation model to investigate which level of model accuracy is required for such a model to obtain meaningful results for practitioners.