This work draws on the results obtained from a qualitative multi-case study carried out on a sample of retailers with a significant presence in the United Kingdom e-grocery market. Using the resource-based view model, the study determines whether operating an e-grocery channel, by leveraging the existing network of stores, yields a sustainable competitive advantage. The findings show that the network of stores is clearly the primary conduit through which e-grocery retailers offer a wide assortment of products, perishables and non-perishables, to a large geographically dispersed population, while meeting their high expectations of faster and on-time delivery. It offers e-grocery practitioners a different avenue of reflection in the exploration of the trade-offs between fulfilment responsiveness, last mile operation costs, and a seamless customer experience. The stores act, in e-grocery operations, as enablers of various other tangible or intangible benefits that translate into a sustainable competitive advantage. This is particularly important in the e-grocery market, where the physical space and handling requirements comprise significant costs that are difficult to recoup from delivery charges at levels acceptable to customers. Stores, as part of e-grocery retailing, maintain offline or pure online channels, and have implications in transportation and the overall value proposition of e-grocers.

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Research in Transportation Economics
Sprott School of Business

Mkansi, M. (Marcia), & Nsakanda, A. (2019). Leveraging the physical network of stores in e-grocery order fulfilment for sustainable competitive advantage. Research in Transportation Economics. doi:10.1016/j.retrec.2019.100786