Online grocery retailing – exploring local grocers beliefs

Sonal Kureshi (Department of Marketing, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad, India)
Sujo Thomas (Department of Marketing, Ahmedabad University, Ahmedabad, India)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Publication date: 16 April 2019



The purpose of this paper is to understand the beliefs of local grocery retailers about online grocery retailing. Using the theory of planned behavior (TPB), the study explores the outcome, normative and control beliefs held by the local grocers about online grocery retailing which would eventually translate into behavior. Factors influencing local grocers intention to participate or refusing to participate in the online grocery retailing was investigated.


In total, 20 in-depth interviews with local grocery retailers were conducted ranging from small to large sized retail stores from a city in the western part of India. The sample included two groups of local grocers – first, grocers who partnered with online retailers as suppliers. This group included those retailers who had partnered but discontinued later and second, grocers who had not partnered with online retailers. In-depth interviews with the local grocery retailers were conducted using TPB as a basis to uncover local grocers’ beliefs toward online grocery retailing and predict their behavior.


The outcome beliefs were classified into five broad heads – business expansion; gaining visibility and reputation; customer expectations; inventory management; and margins, costs and technical issues. The normative belief was that the actions and response to online grocery retailing would be governed by their referent group – the consumers. The main control belief was that partnering with online grocery retailing would result in loss of control regarding their business operations.

Research limitations/implications

The results indicated that in a country like India especially in small to medium size towns, online grocery retailers would have to think of creative ways to involve the local grocery retailers to grow their business. The local grocers due to their size were able to adapt to the requirements of their referent consumers without any additional cost. They were unlikely to give up control regarding how they run their business. The main limitation of this study was the exploratory nature of this study which makes it difficult to prioritize the importance given to each belief. The study sample was restricted to one city in India, and future studies could include other cities.

Practical implications

The findings have practical implications for online grocery retailers who wish to expand into emerging markets like India. It provides understanding about the local grocery retailers who were the major competitors of online grocery retailers. It provides direction to integrate and partner with the local grocers and utilize them for mutual benefits.


Given the absence of academic literature in the public domain, this study provides a platform for future studies in this area. This paper is a systematic attempt to uncover the underlying beliefs of local grocery retailers who were the key players in the grocery retailing business.



Kureshi, S. and Thomas, S. (2019), "Online grocery retailing – exploring local grocers beliefs", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 47 No. 2, pp. 157-185.

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