Exploring the significance of digital disruption on the Finnish grocery industry: A case study on the current attitudes of Finnish grocery suppliers, retailers and consumers towards online grocery retail.

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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International Design Business Management
Since its inception, digitalization has been disrupting numerous industries around the world. This also includes the grocery trade: Online channels have given consumers more flexibility in regard to how and when they purchase the products that fuel their every-day lives. This transformation has challenged grocery suppliers and retailers to adapt their internal tools and processes, while reevaluating their strategic interpretation of the future of their industry. Although online commerce is often referred to as the superior retail channel of today, the share of online grocery – also referred to as e-grocery – has grown relatively slowly in Finland. The reasons for this are still fairly unknown: some suggest it may be due to the local oligopolistic parties not wanting to deter consumer cashflow from their brick-and-mortars, while others believe it may be due to a wary approach from Finnish consumers. Nevertheless, in the recent years the growth rate of Finnish e-grocery has increased notably. This sparks an interesting question: Has the era of e-grocery shopping finally arrived? Through a qualitative intense single-case analysis, this study complements existing research by exploring the significance of digital disruption on the unique setting of Finnish grocery through 20 interviews with suppliers, retailers and consumers. The aim of this study is to explore the current e-grocery related attitudes of key players in the grocery supply chain to better understand the factors behind digital grocery’s slow progression, as well as how large a role online channels may have in Finland’s traditionally concentrated grocery market in the future. The study’s findings agree as well as add to existing research in regard to the plethora of digitalization related benefits and potential challenges felt by grocery suppliers, retailers and their consumers. The gathered insights suggest that the progress of Finnish e-grocery has been limited by both supply and demand related factors. However, through the offered practical implications centered around corporate agility, shopper data -led collaboration as well the improving of service design in digital channels, this study implies that Finnish suppliers and retailers have the opportunity to maximize the potential of their digital channels, thus being able to better serve the modern as well as impending demands of Finnish grocery shoppers.
Thesis advisor
Eloranta, Ville
online grocery, fast moving consumer goods, digitalization, Finnish grocery, grocery trade, Finland
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