Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how product knowledge is utilised by specialistindependent grocery retailers (SIGRs) and how it can enhance competitive advantage for these firms.Design/methodology/approach – A case study approach was deemed most appropriate to gaininsight into an unexplored area of study. A total of 30 in-depth interviews were conducted over asix-month period supported by the collection of observation data and documentation. A purposivesampling method was adopted and the owner managers of the chosen retailers were interviewed askey informants for the study.Findings – It was found that four main resources created the concept product strategy andultimately explained the success of SIGRs. These relate to knowledge of how to provide a uniqueproduct; knowledge of identifying and sourcing from quality suppliers; knowledge of recipes,preparation and storage methods; and knowledge of how to merchandise products.Practical implications – It is argued that if these specialist grocery firms can achieve sustainedcompetitive advantage from building and exploiting product knowledge, so too can other independentretailers in the sector.Originality/value – This paper provides empirical evidence and theoretical understanding ofproduct knowledge as a competitive advantage for SIGRs, which is a neglected area of study in theretail literature.Keywords Independent grocery retailing, Resource based view, Product knowledge,Competitive advantage, Retailing, Retailers, Product information, United KingdomPaper type Research paper
|Journal||International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|
Bibliographical noteReference text: Alexander, A. (2008), “Format development and retail change: supermarket retailing and the
London co-operative society”, Business History, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp. 489-508.
Alexander, A., Phillips, S. and Shaw, G. (2008), “Retail innovation and shopping practices:
consumers’ reactions to self-service retailing”, Environment and Planning, Vol. A No. 40,
All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group (APPSSG) (2006), High Street Britain: 2015,
Altintas, M.H., Kilic¸, S., Senol, G. and Isin, F. (2010), “Strategic objectives and competitive
advantages of private label products: manufacturers’ perspective”, International Journal of
Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 38 No. 10, pp. 773-788.
Amcoff, J., Mo¨ller, P. and Westholm, E. (2011), “The (un)importance of the closure of village
shops to rural migration patterns”, The International Review of Retail, Distribution and
Consumer Research, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 129-143.
Ashworth, C.J. (2011), “Marketing and organizational development in e-SMEs: understanding
survival and sustainability in growth-oriented and comfort-zone pure-play enterprises in
the fashion retail industry”, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal,
Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 25-38.
Ashworth, C.J., Schmidt, R.A., Pioch, E.A. and Hallsworth, A. (2006), “Web-weaving.
An approach to sustainable e-retail and online advantage in lingerie fashion
marketing”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 34 No. 6,
Barnes, H., Parry, J. and Taylor, R. (2004), Working after State Pension Age: Qualitative Research,
No. 208, DWO Report, CDS, Leeds.
Barney, J. (1991), “Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage”, Journal of
Management, Vol. 17, pp. 99-120.
Bazeley, P. and Richards, L. (2007), The NVivo Qualitative Project Book, 2nd ed., Sage, London.
Bertozzi, P. (2001), “Gli Strumenti di Intrattenimento a Disposizione Dell’impresa di
Distribuzione: Costi e Benefici”, Micro and Macro Marketing, Vol. 3 No. 412, p. 431.
Boyatzis, R.E. (1998), Transforming Qualitative Information: Thematic Analysis and Code
Development, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Broadbridge, A. and Parsons, L. (2003), “Still serving the community? The professionalisation of
the UK charity retail sector”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management,
Vol. 31 No. 8, p. 418.
Byrom, J., Medway, D. and Warnaby, G. (2001), “Issues of provision and ‘remoteness’ in rural
food retailing – a case study of the southern western isles of Scotland”, British Food
Journal, Vol. 103 No. 6, pp. 400-413.
Chugan, P.K. and Pingle, S.S. (2012), Global Recession to Global Recovery: Epoch Strategies for
Marketing, Family Business and Entrepreneurship, available at: http://Ssrn.Com/
Abstract¼2005720 (accessed February 15, 2012).
Clarke, I. and Banga, S. (2010), “The economic and social role of small stores: a review of UK
evidence”, International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, Vol. 20
No. 2, pp. 187-215.
Coca-Stefaniak, A.J., Parker, C. and Rees, P. (2010), “Localisation as a marketing strategy for
small retailers”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 38 No. 9,
Coca-Stefaniak, A., Hallsworth, A., Parker, C., Bainbridge, S. and Yuste, R. (2005), “Decline in the
British small shop independent retail sector: exploring European parallels”, Journal of
Retailing and Consumer Services, Vol. 12, pp. 357-371.
Coviello, N.E., Ghauri, P.N. and Martin, K.A.M. (1998), “International competitiveness: empirical
findings from SME service firms”, Journal of International Marketing, Vol. 2, pp. 8-27.
Cummins, S. and Macintyre, S. (2002), “A systematic study of an urban foodscape: the price and
availability of food in greater Glasgow”, Urban Studies, Vol. 39 No. 11, pp. 2115-2130.
Dawson, J. (2001), “Strategy and opportunism in European retail internationalization”, British
Journal of Management, Vol. 12, pp. 253-266.
Donovan, R.J., Rossiter, J.R., Marcoolyn, G. and Nesdale, A. (1994), “Store atmosphere and
purchasing behavior”, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 70, Fall, pp. 283-294.
Downe-Wamboldt, B. (1992), “Content analysis: method, applications, and issues”, Health Care
for Women Internationa, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 313-321.
Drucker, P.F. (1993), Post-capital Society, Harper and Collins, New York, NY.
Eisenhardt, K.M. and Graebner, M.E. (2007), “Theory building from cases: opportunities and
challenges”, The Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 50 No. 7, pp. 25-32.
Fiorito, S.S. and LaForge, R.W. (1986), “A marketing strategy analysis of small retailers”,
American Journal of Small Business, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 7-17.
Ghauri, P.N. and Grønhaug, K. (2002), Research Methods in Business Studies: A Practical Guide,
Financial Times and Prentice Hall, Harlow.
Gibbs, G. (2002), Qualitative Data Analysis: Explorations with NVivo, Open University Press,
Groves, A.M. (2001), “Authentic British food products: a review of consumer perceptions”,
International Journal of Consumer Studies, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 246-254.
Guardian (2007), “A warm glow: entrepreneurs start up ‘farmers markets without the draughts’”,
available at: http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,2015196,00.html (accessed 1 February
Gummesson, E. (2005), “Qualitative research in marketing: road-map for a wilderness of
complexity and unpredictability”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 39, pp. 309-327.
Gummesson, E. (2006), “Qualitative research in management: addressing complexity, context
and persona”, Management Decision, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 167-179.
Hariga, M.A., Al-Ahmari, A. and Mohamed, A. (2007), “A joint optimisation model for inventory
replenishment, product assortment, shelf space and display area allocation decisions”,
European Journal of Operational Research, Vol. 181 No. 5, pp. 239-251.
Harris, K., Harris, R. and Baron, S. (2001), “Customer participation in retail services: lessons from
Brecht”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 29 No. 8,
Hart, C., Stachow, G.B., Farrell, A.M. and Reed, G. (2007), “Employer perceptions of skills gaps in
retail: issues and implications for UK retailers”, International Journal of Retail
& Distribution Management, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 271-288.
Hilton, M. (1998), “Retailing history as economic and cultural history: strategies of survival by
specialist tobacconists in the mass market”, Business History, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 115-137.
Hitt, M., Hoskisson, R.E. and Ireland, D. (1999), “Resource complementarity in business
combinations: extending the logic to organizational alliances”, Journal of Management,
Vol. 27, pp. 679-690.
Hofer-Alfeis, J. (2003), “Effective integration of knowledge management into the business starts
with a top-down knowledge strategy”, Journal of Universal Computer Science, Vol. 9 No. 7,
Hooley, G., Broderick, A. and Moller, K. (1998), “Competitive positioning and the resource-based
view of the firm”, Journal of Strategic Marketing, Vol. 6 No. 97, p. 115.
Hoopes, D.G., Madsen, T.L. and Walker, G. (2003), “Guest editors’ introduction to the special
issue: why is there a resource-based view? Toward a theory of competitive heterogeneity”,
Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 24 No. 10, pp. 889-902.
Ilbery, B. and Maye, D. (2006), “Retailing local food in the Scottish-English borders: a supply
chain perspective”, Geoforum, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 352-367.
Johnson, J.C. and Weller, S.C. (2002), Handbook of Interview Research: Context and Method, Sage,
Kent, T. and Omar, O. (2003), Retailing, Palgrave Macmillian, Hampshire.
Kroll, M., Wright, P. and Helens, R. (1999), “The contribution of product quality to competitive
advantage: impacts on systematic variance and unexplained variance in returns”,
Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 375-384.
Lee, J., Johnson, K.K.P., Gahring, S. and Lee, S.E. (2008), “Business strategies of independent
retailers: effects of environmental hostility”, Journal of Small Business and
Entrepreneurship, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 251-263.
Lusch, R.F., Vargo, S.L. and O’Brien, M. (2007), “Competing through service: insights from
service-dominant logic”, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 83 No. 1, pp. 5-18.
McGee, J.E. (2000), “Toward the development of measures of distinctive competencies among
small independent retailers”, Journal of Small Business Management, Vol. 38 No. 2,
Megicks, P. (2001), “Competitive strategy types in the UK independent retail sector”, Journal of
Strategic Marketing, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 315-328.
Megicks, P. (2007), “Levels of strategy and performance in UK small retail businesses”,
Management Decision, Vol. 45 No. 3, pp. 484-502.
Meneely, L., Burns, A. and Strugnell, C. (2008), “Food retailers’ perceptions of older consumers in
Northern Ireland”, International Journal of Consumer Studies, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 341-348.
Miles, M. and Huberman, A. (1994), Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook, Sage,
Thousand Oaks, CA.
Morris, C. and Buller, H. (2003), “The local food sector: a preliminary assessment of its form and
impact in Gloucestershire”, British Food Journal, Vol. 105 No. 8, p. 559.
Murphy, M. (1996), Small Business Management, Pitman, Washington, DC.
New Economics Foundation (2005), Clone Town Britain, New Economics Foundation, London.
Newbert, S.L. (2007), “Empirical research on the resource-based view of the firm: an assessment
and suggestions for future research”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 28 No. 6,
NIIRTA (2012), Nightmare on Every Street, Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade
Nonaka, I. (1991), “The knowledge-creating company”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 14,
O’Dwyer, M.L. and Ryan, E. (2002), “Management development – a model for retail business”,
Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 26 No. 9, pp. 420-429.
O’Neill, M. (2005), Putting Food Access on the Radar, National Consumer Council, London.
Paddison, A. and Calderwood, E. (2007), “Rural retailing: a sector in decline?”, International
Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 136-155.
Pettinger, C., Holdsworth, M. and Gerber, M. (2008), “All under one roof?’ Differences in food
availability and shopping patterns in southern France and central England”, European
Journal of Public Health, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 109-114.
Pioch, E. and Byrom, J. (2004), “Small independent retail firms and locational decision-making:
outdoor leisure retailing by the Crags”, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise
Development, No., Vol. 2, pp. 222-232.
Porter, M.E. (1980), Competitive Strategy, Free Press, New York, NY.
Prahalad, C.K. and Hamel, G. (1990), “The core competence of the corporation”, Harvard Business
Reveiw, Vol. 68 No. 3, pp. 79-91.
Quinn, J.B. (1992), “The intelligent enterprise: a new paradigm”, Academy of Management
Executive, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 48-63.
Rumelt, R. (1984), “Towards a strategic theory of the firm”, in Lamb, R.B. (Ed.), Competitive
Strategic Management, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Runyan, R., Huddleston, P. and Swinney, J. (2007), “A resource-based view of the small firm:
using a qualitative approach to uncover firm resources”, Qualitative Market Research:
An International Journal, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 390-402.
Runyan, R.C. and Droge, C. (2008), “A categorization of small retailer research streams: what
does it portend for future research?”, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 84, pp. 77-94.
Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2003), Research Methods for Business Students,
Pearson Edition, Harlow.
Shaw, G. and Alexander, A. (2008), “British co-operative societies as retail innovators:
interpreting the early stages of the self-service revolution”, Business History, Vol. 50 No. 1,
Skandrani, H., Mouelhi, N.B.D. and Malek, F. (2011), “Effect of store atmospherics on employees’
reactions”, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 39 No. 1,
Smith, A. and Sparks, L. (2000), “The role and function of the independent small shop:
the situation in Scotland”, International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer
Research, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 205-226.
Stewart, T.A. (1997), Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations, Doubleday, New
Stokes, D. (2000), “Putting entrepreneurship into marketing: the processes of entrepreneurial
marketing”, Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 1-16.
Subiotto, A. (1991), “Epic theatre: a theatre for the scientific age”, in Bartram, G. and Wain, A.
(Eds), Brecht in Perspective, Longman, Harlow.
Toffler, A. (1990), Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century,
Bantam Books, New York, NY.
Turley, L. and Milliman, R. (2000), “Atmospheric effects on shopping behavior: a review of the
experimental evidence”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 193-211.
Wallis, P. (2008), “Consumption, retailing, and medicine in early-modern London”, Economic
History Review, Vol. 1, pp. 26-53.
Wernerfelt, B. (1984), “A resource-based view of the firm”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 5,
Wiklund, J. and Shepherd, D. (2003), “Knowledge-based resources, entrepreneurial orientation,
and the performance of small and medium-sized businesses”, Strategic Management
Journal, Vol. 24 No. 13, pp. 1307-1314.
Wrigley, N., Warm, D., Margetts, B. and Whelan, A. (2002), “Assessing the impact of improved
retail access on diet in a ’food desert’: a preliminary report”, Urban Studies, Vol. 39 No. 11,
Yin, R.K. (2003), Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 3rd ed., Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.