E-Food and the Online Grocery Business

Term Paper, 2004

24 Pages, Grade: 1,3



Market Research: E-Food and the Online Grocery Business

A. The objective of the study and the research questions

B. Market Research Methods and gaining of information
1. Secondary Data
2. Evaluation of the different research methods for primary data
2.1. Observational Research
2.2. Experimentation
2.3. User Panels
2.4. Survey/Interviewing
2.4.1 In-Depth Interviews
2.4.2 Telephone interviews & surveys
2.4.3 Postal and mail surveys – self completion surveys
2.4.4 E-mail and web-based surveys
3. Proposal: Personal Interviewing and web-based surveys
3.1 Focus Groups as a research tool
3.2 Web based surveys as suggested research tool
3.2.1 E-mail surveys
3.2.2 Web-based survey applications

C. Conclusion: Research Implications and Importance of Online Grocery



Market Research E-Food and the Online Grocery Business

Groceries are different from many other products, such as music and books that are commonly purchased online. Many grocery products are perishable and therefore time-sensitive in terms of their delivery needs. In addition, groceries are a replacement product, for example, the same basket of products is more-or-less purchased on a regular basis. Finally, groceries are high-touch items, meaning that consumers like to inspect the quality of items they are purchasing.

Online grocery shopping still is a growing and potent distribution channel that uses direct access methods to allow consumers to shop quickly and take delivery of grocery products without ever leaving their homes, with the computer as the primary method of communication. This environment provides the opportunity to compare and select grocery products in unique and relevant ways in an information-rich environment. Consumers are embracing this online channel as a means of simplifying their lives and saving time.

For researchers, online grocery shopping provides new research applications made possible from the unique ability to link longitudinal transactional data and survey-based attitudinal data at the individual household level. This means fast consumer feedback from a valuable sample, in a controlled environment, as well as the ability to monitor behaviour over time. Also, this environment can be a more efficient and cost-effective means of data collection and analysis than traditional survey research, in some instances.

A. The objective of the study and the research questions

To get in-depth understanding of the customer value of an e-grocery and the strategic decisions concerning the e-grocery business, it would be vital to divide the research into two main parts, one focusing on customer values and benefits, the other one on the marketers side. Due to the case study the latter aspect will not be discussed. This research proposal will focus on identifying customer preferences concerning above all product range and additional services offered (i.e. delivery and payment conditions), as well as usability of the website.

Generally, I would recommend that Ashley should focus on her further research and improvements after launching her online-shop. That is the reason why research proposals for her second arm of business, namely to develop a sophisticated, elaborated research tool for building a meaningful basis of knowledge about online consumer behaviour, are a main part of this paper. I think, not until implementation of her website a wide range of valuable insights can be most efficiently collected. Anyway, it would not be possible to launch a “perfect” model since the very beginning.

The research subjects therefore are:

- What kind of customer value can be created in an e-grocery and for which customer segments?
- What are the key issues for the e-grocery business model performance?
- How to create competitive advantage in the software setup?
- What is the consumer thinking while travelling through the stores?

Conceptual framework and the key concepts

The research suggestions described and recommended in this report shall identify the most valued characteristics of the potential consumers in order to maximize utility.

Customer value is the same as the utility of a certain product or service, that means, it is the combination of the benefits delivered to the customer less the total costs of acquiring the delivered benefits.

Task is to gain information to define the benefits for a customer and how to maximize customer utility. Concerning the benefits I decided to focus on identifying key issues covering product range, usability of the website as well as additional services offered.

Decision problem is, which research method to choose for gaining valuable insights in consumer behaviour and the decisive issues for using (frequently and loyal) an online grocer service. What makes consumer act and decide in their particular way and the subjects of their decision-making process are.

Any concern whether an online grocery can be profitable at all for the supplier will not be discussed and therefore not be included in the research proposal. The summarize the above mentioned research subjects the research question could be:

What are the critical issues to maximise customer benefits and values concerning the whole service offered compromising product range, additional services and usability of the website?

To give a short overview, my final recommendations for Ashley’s research study will be to develop her online-shop model due to the findings and ideas deriving from her previous examinations and the evaluation of secondary data information. This simulation shall be tested by means of one or more focus groups and if requested, followed up by some in-depth interviews. Afterwards, she should focus on different tools of web-surveys for three reasons:

- to improve her own shop and therefore customer satisfaction and loyalty
- to sell the evaluated data to other e-commerce businesses
- to sell the research application itself, possibly slightly modified according to the particular needs

B. Market Research Methods and gaining of information

1. Secondary Data

As this proposal will emphasize the development of a holistic and elaborate research system, basic ideas to develop a store concept should be primarily gained through secondary data information (if requested, supplementation with primary data).

The information we are looking for deals with:

- Customer needs and preferences
- Preferred product range/categories
- Market information concerning food online shopping: customer segments and profiles, statistical data about internet access and number of user, preferred goods and services
- Payment and delivery conditions
- Profiles of the competition: turnover, sales, business models

This information is expected to be received from various sources.

Sources of information may be either internal or external. Internal knowledge is already provided through Ashley’s previous studies. External information can be easily obtained using the internet:

- Search engines:


www.altavista.de etc.

- Business Websites:

www.fmi.org (Food Marketing Institute)

www.researchandmarkets.com (market research reports against a fee) www.keynote.co.uk (reports and forecasts)


- Analysis of competition:













Partly available on the Internet (alternatively to find in libraries, e.g. at universities):

- Business press :
- International Journal of Retail and Distribution
- International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research
- Supermarket Business Magazine
- Strategic Management Journal
- Journal of Business Research
- Business Horizon
- Electronic Markets
- Financial Time
- Information of industry directories and market reports of specialist research organizations (above all statistical data of customer/industry profiles)
- MINTEL (public intelligence, European quarterly)
- EUROSTAT, ESOMAR (governmental statistical data, general information about consumer data)
- Gfk (agency for consumer research across Europe)
- AC Nielsen
- Infratest
- Forrester Research, a noted e-business analyst
- Kompass (German publication on industries by product and area)
- Census Bureaus, where a vast amount of information is available, much of this on-line
--> However, studies might be very expensive
- Syndicated services: do research provided for a number of companies to share costs (also Gfk)
- Market information and statistical data of panel research (customer profiles, sales/turnover, product categories) e.g. Gfk studies or Census Bureaus

Official statistical data will be providing information about market trends and potential, as well as consumer profiles and preferences. Along with the knowledge through the very careful observation and analysis of competitive models a further clear idea of important issues concerning consumer preferences and successful business models should be explainable. Also, these external information coupled with the results of the previous studies should be sufficient to develop a first business model and to design a website for an online-grocery.


Excerpt out of 24 pages


E-Food and the Online Grocery Business
Furtwangen University
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
577 KB
E-Food, Online, Grocery, Business
Quote paper
Stefanie Schulz (Author), 2004, E-Food and the Online Grocery Business, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/38510


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