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Small family grocers’ inherent advantages over chain stores: a review

Sanit Srichookiat (Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand)
Teerasak Jindabot (Prince of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 10 April 2017




As a result of the growth of the modernization of retailing, small family grocers have suffered because of the disadvantages of their limited operating resources in comparison to those of corporate chain retailers. The purpose of this paper is to use the biological analogy of natural selection to illustrate how the idea of retail coexistence rather than mutually exclusive competition can work to the benefit of small family grocers. The inherent differences between chain retailers and small family grocers are examined and their inherent advantages identified. The appropriate strategies for small family grocers toward the particular market are then proposed.


The review of literature is implemented through the lens of biological analogy to identify the inherent advantages of small family grocers over chain retailers. Resource-advantage (R-A) theory is then incorporated to explain the synthesized framework.


Size and operational orientation are identified as the inherent differences that small family grocers can utilize to gain some inherent advantages over chain retailers in relation to the proposed segments. The establishment of a personal relationship with the customer is the key inherent advantage that is naturally facilitated by the individual orientation of the small family grocer. Within R-A theory, inherent advantage is seen as a special case of a comparative advantage in resources.


The different viewpoint inspired by the biological analogy that permits small family grocers to shift their mindset from retail competition to retail coexistence and to re-examine their own inherent advantages to serve the heterogeneous demand of consumers.



This work was supported by the Office of the Higher Education Commission in Thailand.


Srichookiat, S. and Jindabot, T. (2017), "Small family grocers’ inherent advantages over chain stores: a review", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 446-462.



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