E-strategy in the UK retail grocery sector: a resource-based analysis

Ellis-Chadwick, Fiona; Doherty, Neil F. and Anastasakis, Leonidas (2007). E-strategy in the UK retail grocery sector: a resource-based analysis. Managing Service Quality, 17(6) 702 -722.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/09604520710835019


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a better understanding of the expansion and development strategies used by retailers based in the UK for creating sustained competitive advantage in online grocery retailing.

Design/methodology/approach – The objectives of this research were addressed by using a qualitative research strategy consisting of two specific methods of data collection: primary and secondary data collection.

Findings – The study suggests that retailers have tended to follow an incremental approach towards the development and expansion of their online service provision. This route to expansion involves the trialling of new ideas, keeping close watch on the competition while endeavouring to introduce innovative new services to capture consumer interest and deliver customer benefits.

Research limitations/implications – The major limitation associated with this study is with respect to its heavy reliance on secondary sources. Consequently, assumptions have had to be made about the retailers' strategic thinking, as we were not able to secure any first hand accounts. However, in terms of the research implications, this study has both demonstrated the value of secondary data sources, and highlighted the benefits of adopting a resource-based analysis.

Practical implications – The findings highlight the importance of viewing an organisation's web-based IT resources, as being only one element of its e-commerce strategy.

Originality/value – This study makes a major contribution in two ways. First, it has mapped out the strategic pathways followed by the UK's five leading grocery retailers, in terms of their adoption of e-commerce during the first complete decade of online retailing. Second, the paper has demonstrated how the resource-based theory provides a very useful lens through which these pathways can be viewed and ultimately explained.

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