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Comparing distribution channels and their impact on supply chains: a case study on online groceries in France and Germany

Seidel, Saskia (2021) Comparing distribution channels and their impact on supply chains: a case study on online groceries in France and Germany. Dissertation, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Université Paris-Est. doi: 10.18452/23734.

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In e-commerce, one of the segments with the most significant growth is online grocery retailing. The main actors in this sector are currently the brick-and-mortar traders who are becoming multichannel retailers via their online offerings. Online grocery services include home deliveries and pick-up options such as drive-throughs (drives). The latter are comparatively underdeveloped in Germany, while they are widespread in France. Regardless of the form of distribution to the customer, offering groceries online requires an adaptation of logistics and transport organisations. The initially strong fluctuations in the market show that a successful positioning in online food retailing is not trivial, even for large retail chains. Even though multichannel distribution strategies are the subject of many research studies, few have addressed their impact on logistics and transport organisations. The present research addresses this gap by investigating the central questions: ‘How do commodity flows change through the introduction of online grocery services? Can different configurations of online grocery services, and thus different commodity flows, be observed in France and Germany?’ For this cumulative dissertation, data from France and Germany were analysed. The impact of online grocery sales on supply chains was examined through a comparative analysis, and the relevance of different settings and contextual environments was established. To open up the topic area, a three-tier approach was chosen, which also corresponds to the three articles of the thesis. First, the existing distribution structures of the major grocery retailers in France and Germany were analysed. Second, the different forms of online grocery offerings and the new structures for their implementation were examined in depth. Furthermore, a categorisation based on the types of offerings was developed. Third, the innovative forms and distribution concepts primarily used by players other than multichannel providers were analysed. This study adopted a mixed-methods approach, focusing on qualitative methods, an in-depth analysis of the market participants (expert interviews) and supplementary quantitative analyses of location data. Through this methodology, the work offers a comprehensive reflection of both markets. The analyses show that the decision to offer goods online impacts the entire supply chain of the grocer, and the impact differs in France and Germany. Order processing, last-mile delivery and upstream structures in the supply chain are experiencing three fundamental areas of change: I) new locations for the organisation of online food distribution – usually close to the customers – are being developed; II) a decentralisation of distribution structures is taking place; and III) new relationships between actors in the supply chain are emerging. This paper systematically records and describes adaptation mechanisms (logistical practices) and reveals the differences in the supply chain structures compared to the stationary food trade. Based on the structured analysis of two neighbouring but distinct markets, further insights relevant to research and practice could be generated. The results of the analyses contribute to a better systematic understanding of online food practices among researchers and practitioners. Furthermore, recommendations for future research are derived. These concern the grocers’ upstream supply chain, the effects of the re-organisation of transhipment structures on existing urban structures, developments during and following COVID-19, urban spaces, and environmental protection concerns vs. customers’ comfort needs.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/146947/
Document Type:Thesis (Dissertation)
Title:Comparing distribution channels and their impact on supply chains: a case study on online groceries in France and Germany
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Seidel, SaskiaSaskia.Seidel (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Refereed publication:No
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Status:In Press
Keywords:food retailing, online grocery services, transport and logistics organisation, supply chains, logistics networks, typology, case study
Institution:Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Université Paris-Est
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Transport
HGF - Program Themes:Transport System
DLR - Research area:Transport
DLR - Program:V VS - Verkehrssystem
DLR - Research theme (Project):V - UrMo Digital
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Transport Research > Commercial Transport
Deposited By: Seidel, Dr. Saskia
Deposited On:08 Dec 2021 19:12
Last Modified:08 Dec 2021 19:12

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