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Ronan De Kervenoael
Sabanci University / Faculty of Management
Orhanli Tuzla 34956 Istanbul Turkey
E-mail: dekervenoael@sabanciuniv.edu

D. Selcen Ö. Aykaç
Sabanci University / Faculty of Management
Orhanli Tuzla 34956 Istanbul Turkey
E-mail: selcenaykac@sabanciuniv.edu


Two supermarkets in Turkey offer mechanisms to encourage consumers to shop online.

Little is, however, available to comprehend Turkish household purchasing arrangements,
processes and practices for tangible goods such as groceries. Our theoretical perspective
draws on body of research covering areas such as intra-household economy and
relationships, consumer decision making process, and e-tailing. We surmise that, due to
the nature of the products/services, e-grocery shopping is bringing new complexities for
consumers. These socially embedded practices should also be understood within the
domestic/household context. We present the case for a re-conceptualisation of the
practices that surround e-grocery in an emerging country situation. Technology mediated
household organisation is reviewed in the context of diverse technological generations
and access types. Household internal dynamics, coping mechanisms, the need for ever
changing experiences are explored. Critical thresholds in information processing, and
household organization are identified. Strategic recommendations are then formulated
and plans for future research presented.

Key words: e-Grocery,Decision making, Pre-purchase activities

JEL Classificiation: M30

A re-definition of interaction and communication in practice at household level is
currently being negotiated through the opportunities arising within the virtual
environment of the Internet (Balabanis et al., 1999:15; Peterson et al., 1997:25). While
other channels such as catalogue and direct marketing often bring retail space into the
home (Kraut et al., 2002:58), e-shopping has gone further by encouraging technological
and social convergence through the instant access of global mass to information and ICT.
In turn, especially in emerging economies where the information, access and education
divide remain strong, the new channel is allowing a new generation of consumers with an
increased ‘power’ and ‘control’ in their purchasing activities and choice (Gilly et al.,
2001:4). Technology is leapfrogging usual retail and often social cycles, creating radical
shift in the practices, and preventing incremental changes. Ongoing research on the
structure and dynamics of these so called ‘cyber markets’ in our context of everyday
staple goods such as grocery and on consumer behavior in the online context is therefore,
vital to maintaining the continuing relevance of marketing theory, and to provide
managers with an understanding of this new “modus operandi”.
This initial conceptualization resonate with the various aspects of a post-modern culture
and society where “new communications systems are often presented as a hopeful key to
better life and a more equitable society” (Poster, 1995). The use and consumption of
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) does in many ways facilitate and
encourage “the creation of individuality”. What we are seeing is a contested process
where both production and consumption within online environments is redefined. More
specifically we argue that a divorce from retail governance strategy and processes in
practice is occurring at an increasingly alarming rate in the context of developing and
emerging markets. In their provision of online services for grocery purchase, retailers
have not yet acknowledged the nature and dynamics of such a fundamental
transformation of micro decision making within households. The motivations for
shopping online have commonly been conceptualized in the literature as dichotomous
offerings between hedonic and utilitarian attributes (Childers et al., 2001:77).
In this paper, we offer an alternative approach and argue that engagement with the online
retailing environment is embedded, and thereby understood, within the
domestic/household context. The focal objective of this research is to explore e-grocery
front-loading activities in the context of Turkey. This paper is structured as follows. In
the next section, we provide a review of the literature, which also allows us to
contextualize our research agenda. It considers the early and current theorization of online
grocery retail and its theoretical connection with households’ economics and technology
diffusion models. This is followed by a brief reflection on the current Turkish situation as
an example of emerging economies. Our attention then turns to the issue of the
methodological design of our empirical enquiry. We then provide a synopsis and
discussion of the more salient themes that have arisen from our analysis; these being the

presence of three main levels of organizational engagement and expectation of the
channel. We then propose a discussion of the results that center around the need to
develop new practices. To this end, our study is largely explorative and illustrative rather
that conclusive in focus.
1.1. Lit-review: General Overview
A vibrant body of research has now shown that the Internet has changed how we purchase
or go about purchasing products and services (Alba et al., 1998:61). This work
emphasizes that consumers choose online shopping instead of going to the shops for
convenience, availability of wider alternatives of retailers, unlimited working hours, ease
of comparing product and the possibility of getting a good deal (Bhatnagar et al.,
2004:57). While progresses have been made in understanding Internet grocery shopping,
it still seems to be lagging in popularity compared to other products. Reflecting on this,
there are obvious issues about grocery shopping such as logistics, the tactile impact, the
personal nature of some products, the lack of brands in certain categories such as fruits
and meat, the lack of product knowledge etc. (Verhoef et al., 2001:8) that have been
hindering natural organic engagement.
Much of the literature on online grocery shopping focuses on the ‘classical’ factors that
tend to affect the choice between shopping channels. Our approach follows the works of
economic geographers and places more emphasis on shopping and related decisions as
practices that are socially embedded through observed actions ranging rituals to codes
(Clarke et al., 2006:38). The online retailing platform presents some clear challenges both
from a technological point of view and from a consumer learning paradigm.
Consumers have a ‘special’ and perhaps ‘intimate’ relationship with the activity of food
purchasing that interferes with the online process. This has broaden the traditional
interpretations of e-grocery moving away from commoditized products and brands by
pervading personal space and traditional practices status quo allowing an opportunity for
local knowledge leverage in emerging market. There is a different ‘reality’ of shopping
that surrounds the activity of food for each household member. The choices and how the
decisions are made are defined by the perceptions of the individual with respect to the
social, local, physical and time contexts in relation to grocery shopping responsibilities
(Clarke et al., 2006:38). Similarly, the reality of situations in households imposes
‘subjective’ constraints (i.e., preferences of individual in areas such as health, quality,
brands, origin etc.) on the overall objective of undertaking global optimal decisions.
Taken together, this means that e-grocery household context and environment are
operationalized in multiple ways. The relationships, micro-practices between consumers
and online retailers are constructed, differentiated and mediated by the nature of the
product/service/information though online exchanges as well as the actual level
technology literacy of the household. New ICT technologies allow individuals to move
away from the traditional two way flow of communication towards multi-tasking and
multi-real time communication. In reality, do emerging markets’ consumers use these

functions; do they have the social abilities and inclinations to engage with the
opportunities that are been constructed, reflected upon and/or ready?
1.2. Intra-household economy within the online channel
Grounding the role of intra-household economy and relationships within the sphere of e-
grocery introduces a novel and challenging representation of ongoing changes of social
(micro) practices (Giddens, 1992; Vogler, 2005:53). First of all we explore the
importance of salient gender equalities in domestic task-sharing that still exist strongly as
symbols of power, control and even failure and dependency, (Lane, 1991) particularly in
emerging countries. The nature of these inequalities often result in (un)conscious
decisions, gender-role reversal, reclassification between the perceptional value of paid vs.
unpaid tasks, shift of power to the partner that stays at home, re-learning of household
activities in theory. These concepts will be isolated and discussed in the case of Turkey
later in the text. Arguably, if e-grocery is to become ‘mainstream’, then its value
proposition should consider the heterogeneity of the characteristics and the micro
situations of consumers’ role within the household and society at large during the act of
placing online grocery orders. What seem to be emerging is that service provisions have
to adapt to the diversity of preferences, skills, situations and realities of different
consumers lifestyle both current and ideal. This, in turn, suggests that incumbent and
future consumers are taken into account within the strategy. Broadly speaking, service
providers will need to be able to offer tailored help that fits social expectations and
practiced level of communication. Moreover, they should encourage achieving a balance
in terms of power and responsibilities.
Secondly, alongside the previous argument, within a particular household, for example,
some members may be less familiar / skilled with the use of ICT and the Internet. As
households have a somehow limited history and familiarity with the ICT. This ultimately
leads to a biased decision process aimed at sustaining long term acceptable overall
outcomes that do not lead to the breakdown or constant challenge of the household
unwritten norms. Thirdly, in areas concerning technology preferences and risk, household
members have alternating preferences. Some or most have a pre-dominant structural
usage such as work or play, some attached level of ownership, some connection to a
special geographical place within the house, and some are wireless even possibly using
non-PC base entry points. Yet, a pattern exists and needs to be taken into account to
include hierarchy, right of access and/or custom convention. If e-grocery shopping is to
be engaged by household’s every member, we content that a broader interpretation and
understanding of these structural social spaces is required. This is commonly referred to
as the concept of ‘modularity’ of technologies where communication is integrated and
adapted to different forms to suit the different needs. Retailers’ ability to offer services
independent of technological platforms, including M-technology and television, presents
opportunities for further research. Fourthly, there is limited congruence between what
households expect and how they actually divide the responsibility and tasks. Grocery

shopping is expected to be important and appear in the daily routines of household’s
everyday life as we all need to eat. However, the question is “Is this the case?”. The
shopper of the household being the ‘gatekeeper’ raises the debate about the target of the
food marketers. In addition, caring for specific groups within the household (including
children and older relatives) also requires an advanced knowledge about healthy dieting.
Moreover, the person responsible for grocery shopping, by default, is also responsible of
fashionable food, and considered to be acquiring knowledge on appropriate items for
various social situations to prepare meals.
1.3. e-Grocery in Turkey
An initial review of retail activity in Turkey shows that the retailing sector has developed
rapidly since the early 1980s alongside significant changes both in the economic and
social structures of the country. Two decades of liberalization experience, stimulated by
the Customs Union with the European Union in 1995 and approval of full membership
candidacy in 2006, have freed Turkish entrepreneurial dynamism as well as influencing
consumption patterns and values by Western examples. Other complementing factors are
not limited to but include rising income levels particularly in urban areas, ever high
urbanization rate and increase in number of working women with higher education. All
these have caused a radical shift in attitudes and consumption patterns that have
encouraged the development of modern retail infrastructures. Yet, while hypermarkets
continue to open new stores in the larger cities, bakkals (neighborhood grocers) and
weekly bazaars remain important. Nonetheless, food retailing is moving towards modern
retail formats providing 24/7 access. The share of hypermarkets in the overall retail
market is still low but rapidly increasing, estimated at around 38 (Koç, 2006) per cent in
2006, up from 3.6 per cent in 1996. Put differently, a two speed Turkish retail structure
seem to have emerged. The classical large vs. small shops is not the only divide in this
process, but also the attitudes and values of consumers (Western vs. Conservative radical
lifestyle) that lead towards specific choice both at brand and retail name, store format and
geography, where boycott is seldom present. While distinctive groups are identified, our
level of analysis is only concerned with respondents that have already engaged with e-
grocery under the current circumstance where two main international retailers offer such
services (Migros (via Kangurum.com) and Carrefour (via Gima.com). This self selected
sample mainly discusses, reveals and reflects issues and logic arising mainly from the
Western oriented group described above. Further specific research is required on the
second group.
At the same time, Sofres (2002) has shown that the majority of consumers meet
approximately two fifths (39%) of their non-durable shopping requirements from hyper
and supermarket chains. This ratio increases to 67% in metropolitans and 69% in A and
B socio-economic classes. One of the key findings of another research conducted on
behalf of the Turkish Council of Shopping Centers and Retailers in 2003 is that the chain
markets and supermarkets with more than one branch are the preferred outlets. Here, a

radical change is taking place similar to the one observed in the 80s in Europe where
small specialized independent grocers had quickly disappeared. Research findings
indicate that 65% of consumers living in metropolitans already prefer chain retailers.
Chain markets and supermarkets which have more than one branch are by far the largest
avenue for the food and beverages (41%), home cleaning products (39%) and
meat/poultry (33.5%).

Table- 1. Retail Sale Figures, 1998-2005 (source: AC Nielsen)

CHANNELS 1998 2000 2002 2004 2005
A) Total Stores 169,747 152,974 139,902 142,785 146,563
* Hyper &super markets 2,135 2,979 4,005 4,809 5,545
- Hypermarket (>2500m2) 91 129 151 152 160
- Large super (1000-2500m2) 210 306 368 396 454
- Supermarket 464 726 909 1,082 1,258
- Small super (<400 m2) 1,370 1,818 2,577 3,179 3,673
* Medium market (50-100 m2) 12,192 13,232 13,555 15,197 15,076
* Grocery (<50 m2) 155,420 136,763 122,342 122,781 120,397

Regarding e-trade, it currently accounts for only 2% of total expenditures through credit
cards and is on its way moving up fast towards the world average of 15%. Turnovers of
e-shopping markets have been doubling annually in both value and volume, and are
expected to continue this trend. Hepsiburada.com, the largest of the e-shopping portals,
realized a 70% growth and reached a turnover of around $69 million in 2007 (Aydın,
2007:Mart 2007). The online retailing has experienced $200 million volume in 2006, up
from only $9 million in 2000.
Table- 2. Leaders of Online Turkish Retailers -in alphabetic order (Aydın, 2007:Mart 2007).

Customers Visitors
Web Site (1,000) (1,000/month) Performance
444cicek.com 32 80 $1million annual turnover.
total sales until today reached 14
biletix.com 900 2500
million tickets
boltaksit.com 3 4 $410 thousand annual turnover
experienced 318% growth in orders
dr.com.tr NA NA
in 2006
10,000 product choices.offering 150
ebebek.com.tr 49 615 brands, experienced $6,750 thousand
annual turnover
phones and electronics have the
highest sales figures. Carries more
estore.com.tr 600 2,000
than 150,000 different products in 30
main categories
11 thousand transactions in 2006.
garantialisveris.com 119 230
Grew 494% in 5 years.
genpatech.com 70 NA $5 million annual turnover.
gittigidiyor.com 100 10,050 2,5 million sales in 5 years
hemalhemsat.com NA NA Plans 1000% growth next year
leader with 35% market share. $69
hepsiburada.com 985 4,500
million annual turnover
Number of visitors increased 11
kangurum.com.tr 518 260
times in 7 years
number of transactions increased
spormarketim.com 5 90 from 60-70/month to 518/month in
its first year.
Annual turnover increased more than
teknosa.com.tr NA NA
100% in 2006.
Carries more than 8,000 different
vatanbilgisayar.com 100 1,200
products of 400 brands
Annual orders exceed 3 million. $22
yemeksepeti.com 205 540
million annual turnover
experiences 100% growth in dollar
ykm.com.tr 50 140
value every year.
NA: Did not share information
1.4. Embedding “Front-loading” activity into the shopping process
Front-loading has often been described as a contested process; where complicated
systems are scrutinize to improve final outcome performance often in terms of quality and
speed. Front-loading activities are considered as an iterative as well as interactive process
where both retailers and consumers engage with in a win-win situation game improving

the overall attraction of the e-grocery experience. Proactive techniques are used to
identify early potential bottlenecks and problems areas. A transparent process is put in
place allowing a wider approach to problem finding and solving. The aims of front-
loading here are to reduce the number of substandard experiences and utilize
opportunities offered by new technology to reduce cycle time and increase convenience
(Thomke et al., 2000:March). Because pre-purchase activities are not fully acknowledged
by marketers, retailers have not given too much attention to imperfect and incorrect
processes and how this impacts on usage and engagement with a service. Yet, in our
socially grounded setting this overlook may be directly at the cause of the channel low

If regular complicatedness is experienced by individuals, over time they tend to,

consciously or unconsciously to lead to an everyday fear of the channel, apprehension of
the process, feeling of embarrassment in front of other and experience of high private
anxiety and pain (Brookfiled, 1995). We take up these assertions by assuming a more
active role for e-retailers. While literature usually reports a series of steps, these seem
more appropriate in terms of industrial production rather than the social network
composing a household. The first step involves learning to know ourselves as consumers.
There are different network types of households and families, and within these, the
individuals also change regularly. We tend to forget usual experiences and what it feels
like to come to a new place as an inexperienced shopper. Here learning about the norm,
standards and realistic expectations of the chosen retail geography have a great
importance in feeling capable at the first and subsequent visits (Brookfiled, 1995). The
second step involves being surprised by the familiar. This process oriented step sough to
underline that few real reflective phases occur during regular shopping courses. Without
an indication to the contrary, it is easy to assume that diverging from the norm and
challenging accepted practices may be perceived as a sign of misunderstanding. The third
step usually involves solving problems collaboratively (Horton, 1990). Insights, ideas,
tips can then be shared and put into practice by the whole group. Yet, in real life, little
practice of such a negotiation process occurs. Most ideas and decision are taken before
being opened for discussion. This is especially true in more traditional, hierarchical
household units and societies. (See the now (in)famous book “The Surrendered Wife” and
its associated movement).

Equally important, is to actually be convinced to engage with the exercise in the first
place. Here a personal space and privacy issues are arising alongside the more traditional
anti-exploitation/ commercial stand involved while sharing personal information and
processes for commercial purposes. Indeed, few consumers use any of the widely
available method including meal planning calendars, easy receipts, every occasion
bartender, various shopping list (by aisle, by nutrition check, cooking time and skills,
medical consideration etc), table plan, promotion management etc (Simtel.Net). The
mundane nature of grocery shopping seems to be beyond a simple series of steps

reflecting views of a pure economistic and functional world. While a new set of
references to form a new ‘cultural capital’ online is required, many retailers are finding it
hard to cope with more subjective social activities. Here, it has widely been assumed that
a relationship exist between retailers and consumers where both are ready to participate
(Biggs, 2003).
This research uses a series of semi-structured open ended questions through telephone
interviews. Postings and announcements on web forums were utilized to obtain a self
selected list of online grocery shoppers. 29 individuals (Table- 3) responded within our
timeframe. The methodological design for our research is exploratory. Themes of
questions asked were: (1) grocery shopping in general, (2) reasons of adopting online
grocery shopping, (3) pre-purchase organization activities and (4) suggestions for
improving the whole online grocery experience. Each of the telephone interviews lasted
between 10 and 15 minutes. Following the relevance of Jones’ experience of analyzing
unsolicited accounts and routine experiences with ‘framework analysis’ (Jones, 2000:10),
the same key stages involved in this type of qualitative data analysis were applied in this
study (Ritchie et al., 1994). Firstly, we started reading the interviews’ transcripts and
familiarized ourselves with the data. Secondly, the key issues in the data were identified
(our own observations) and we tried to compare them with more abstract concepts in the
literature in order to construct a final thematic framework for analysis. Thirdly, the
indexing process in which the thematic framework was systematically applied to the data
was initiated. We constructed a table for each category and classified the data. Fourthly, a
picture of the data as a whole was built, and finally mapping and interpretation were
done. The final analysis to decode the main themes of the research followed the
methodology of the grounded theory (Strauss et al., 1990). Using the general categories
and subcategories assigned to the data, we tried to make the best possible connections to
interpret the data as a whole and visualized organically emerging constellations. Re-
reading the data and re-working on the categories was a process of agreement achieved
among authors. It was a way to address the reliability of our data (Goodwin et al., 1984:7;
Punch, 1998; Silverman, 1993).

The discussion of the results is organized around the main themes that have emerged
from the empirical analysis. In this paper, we concentrated on the front-loading process
and related issues only, hence do not use the entirety of the data.

Table- 3. Respondent demography and background
# id sex age occupation education city household
1 2F 26 foreign trade postgraduate education Istanbul 3
2 3F 23 student postgraduate education Ankara 1
3 4M 29 researcher postgraduate education Istanbul 1
4 5F 32 Banker undergraduate Istanbul 2
5 6F 34 marketing communications postgraduate education Istanbul 2
6 7 F 30 banker postgraduate education Istanbul 2
7 8 F 38 doctor postgraduate education Van 3
8 9 F 34 engineer undergraduate Istanbul 2
9 10 F 24 student undergraduate Istanbul 2
10 11 M 38 engineer undergraduate Istanbul 2
11 12 F 28 academic postgraduate education Istanbul 2
12 13 F 31 engineer undergraduate Istanbul 2
13 14 M 18 student undergraduate Istanbul 5
14 15 M 30 engineer postgraduate education Istanbul 2
15 17 M 30 engineer phd Ordering from US 3
for relatives in TR
16 18 F 43 entrepreneur undergraduate Istanbul 3
17 19 M 22 student undergraduate Istanbul 4
18 20 M 29 engineer postgraduate education Istanbul 2
19 21 M 26 student undergraduate Istanbul 3
20 22 M 28 engineer postgraduate education Ankara 1
21 23 M 30 engineer postgraduate education Ankara 1
22 24 M 24 engineer undergraduate Ankara 2
23 25 M 24 designer postgraduate education Ankara 5
24 27 M 25 engineer postgraduate education Istanbul 1
25 33 F 20 student undergraduate Istanbul 4
26 34 F 28 engineer postgraduate education Istanbul 3
27 35 F 26 tourism specialist undergraduate Ankara 3
28 36 F 40 academic phd Istanbul 5
29 37 F 38 academic phd Istanbul 5

The findings presented below encompass three of the main salient themes from the
analysis of the transcripts. As the study is concerned with usage rather than adoption or
engagement with the technology, the macro-technological environment of Turkey per se
is not deemed to have any impact or bias. E-grocery shopping has been available since
1997, allowing current users a sufficient experience.

The emerging themes of this section are summarized in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Household pre-purchase service activity levels

3.1. Pre-purchase disillusions: Cues and factor leading to chaos?
In today instant gratification society, preparation for anything is often perceived
negatively in terms of effort and time allocation needed. Complex busy lifestyles and
commoditization of food are the main ‘ready made’ excuses. A general lack of
responsibility acceptance seems evident as few respondents have demonstrated any
sensitivity to the importance of grocery. Yet, this needs to be balanced by the necessity to
eat everyday, remain relatively healthy and have a certain level of food stock planning.
This negative perception of the overall process of buying food and preparing meals lead
to some kind of permanent denial for some respondents, of what we argue in this paper
could become a more rewarding activity. Two characteristics emerge (a) status quo in
gender stereotype role enactment and (b) the downgrading of the practical and skillful
aspect of actually cooking the groceries.
While expected role remained as the main factor that explained the choice between
preparing or not for online shopping, other secondary factors were mediating the overall
experience and what could be achieved: (a) convenience, (b) the negative label attached
to cooks, (c) the complexity of ingredient choice and appropriate mix.

In addition, basic online trust seemed not to be fully established mainly because of a lack
of understanding in the ICT process. Paradoxical concept not applicable online or already
covered by the retailer services seemed still to be anchored as missing in people’s minds,
demonstrating the lack of reflection and mutual acceptance between retailers and
consumers leading to: (a) low e-shopping, low ICT requirement understanding; (b) low
awareness of channel opportunities and type of offering; (c) miss-communication.
In this context, from a consumer perspective, any initiative to improve the pre-shopping
process is not yet perceived as sustainable and a sound investment over the long term.
This includes the negotiation of the power struggle outcome at household level. This type
of respondents seemed to prefer buying the same staple goods repetitively, as such
eliminates the need to think thoroughly about the process. It is seen as a way not to be
blamed in circumstance when the process lead to a sub optimal outcome. These
participants seems to be in a downward spiral that will most certainly lead to the
abandonment of the channel, its use only in emergency or most certainly for items that
will only provide a marginal profit for retailers (bulky, heavy, standards etc).
3.2. Emerging coping mechanisms: Becoming proactive pre-purchase organizer
At the same time, a second group of respondents is emerging. A shift from traditional to
new the digital channel is in progress including a relatively objective reflection on the
current possibilities and limitations of this method of shopping. Coping mechanisms in
organizing pre-purchase activities are slowly implemented using a ‘learn through mistake
method' within the household in isolation from the retailers strategy or other e-grocers’
consumers. Early techniques are derived from traditional food shopping practices such as
taking notes (making a physical list), mental notes, discussion about food (often
following media cues), discussion of food requirement for specific members (often
children), usage (work lunch) and following household member access to shop through
other errand or work commuting routes (in passing in front of shop X can you …). At
home, the environment is starting to have some impact. First of all, the traditional layout
of the offline stores’ impact is diminishing. Respondents were now using their house’s
rooms as a way to complete their list, moving sometimes physically from one to the other.
Inter-household member discussion was happening ‘on site’, in any given room, allowing
the different individuals to engage with the topic at the right level of attention (i.e.,
momentarily stopping their current task). Grocery organization is now centered around
individuals needs and social activities. Grocery emerged as a relatively important builder
of modern lifestyle. Responsibility for diet, health was integrated in the choice of e-
grocery as a better solution not only to busy life but towards a higher life quality through
revealed choice and preferences.
We argue that these activities were re-introducing some of the mundane social aspects of
shopping, higher expectations and excitement. Attention to cues from the retailer site and
some of the current function provided such as recall list, weekly announcement,
promotion etc then became relevant even if not yet fully personalized. Reflection and

revision of choice was another important understood aspect. Though we don’t have
explicit evidence that pre-purchase organization process is not linear, we feel that it is
often interrupted by other activities. It can be imagined that some individuals only put
items with a risk of not being remembered on the list while they prefer to rely on their
memory for most of the classic items. Some items are not making it to the list as they are
purchased each time, some personal items are voluntarily keep out of the list even if a
reflective time is devoted for that purpose at each visit. Social measures are included in
the reflections such as friends’ thoughts but also novelty need, fashion etc as a way to
become a better shopper online and get a higher reward from engaging with the channel.
Recently, integration of ITC gadgets to manage pre-purchase activities had also been
reported amid with low intensity.
3.3. I have experienced much better services online: e-Grocers do your homework!
Organization is not a linear process. It depends often of other experiences within the same
channel. Benchmarks are established that in a virtual digital world should easily be made
available by all retailers. While entry barrier are low, adding a set of meaning and valued
differences to distinguish a company’s overall service offerings are still not done
homogeneously online. This particular category of respondent represented the most
advanced and demanding segment in terms of retailer organizational aid offering. They
seemed to have an intrinsic interest in food, novelty, interaction that goes beyond the
limited choice currently offered by the retailers.
Those consumers who were familiar with the internet technology in other aspects of their
lives felt unsatisfied and disappointed by the poor efforts displayed by e-grocery retailers.

Only then does it become clear that more interesting products were purchased probably in
smaller up-market boutiques. The online emerging competition was strong. Exclusivity,
premium ranges and brand, limited editions, specific complementary products were
perceived as key differentiator adding and creating the true e-experience. The lack of
choice over expensive food products, real food knowledge and truly interactive rewarding
visits where learning and exchange occur was leaving them disillusioned.
Reciprocity, transformation and adaptation of spaces both at household and retailer level
are interlinked. Taking part in co-constructing the new social online retail geography, we
contend, is the most important challenge facing the channel in the next decade. In this
interpretation, there is a clear need for retailers to get involved in grounded activities to
create rapidly the required social capital that seem to be missing. The current a-contextual
approach is fragmenting the market, diluting strategy and encouraging inertia. At the top
of that, grocery shopping is too often understood as basic required subsistence products.
Food retailers seem to have reached a ceiling in terms of credibility and trust. In the new
channel it does not seem enough to master the supply chain and the delivery of items
(echoing here issues such as bird flue and CJD diseases). A genuine interest in diversity,

local items, sustainability, environmental value, global fair trade etc linked to an
understanding of the cultural capital and heritage of food and its intrinsic long term
importance is now a must. This participation oriented view re-interprets and re-center the
roles that each stakeholders needs to contribute to. The meaning of modern grocery retail
is also unpacked and grounded with the real lifestyle and expectation of households. With
the development of the new channel a shift in the legitimacy of the actors taking part in
the exchange has occurred. Our pre-purchase illustration shows that considerable latitude
is still present to improve the services. In the process, real online e-grocery competition
and benchmarking should change significantly fro the current structure and offering.
Our article has attempted to demonstrate the value of grounded household practices by
capturing how a lack of front loading activities and understanding of the mundane nature
of online grocery shopping is leading to miss-opportunities and forgone profit in the
channel. Recognizing these concerns, we build in the specificity of emerging markets. We
are arguing here that technological leap-frog is providing an advantage to the retailers. By
making their service level and expertise closer to that of small independent specialist and
by leveraging their online experience they can end up closer that in western areas from
what people know and want. The gap in faith is actually smaller than in many developed
economy where the knowledge of food, the ritual of small expert specialists has been long
lost. At the same time notwithstanding the importance of timing, choice and convenience
we content that a bottom up unpacking of the reality of experiences within the shopping
process such as illustrated by pre-purchase actions will bridge the interplay between the
social richness of consumer shopping and the true opportunities offered by the new

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