Understanding the fragmented demand for transportation small traditional retailers in emerging markets

Y. Boulaksil*, Jan C. Fransoo, Edgar E. Blanco, Sallem Koubida

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The demand for goods transportation in emerging markets is fragmented, mainly due to the unstructured and informal ordering behavior of the many small, traditional retailers in these markets. In this paper, we study such small traditional retailers located in the neighborhoods of big cities in emerging markets. We call them nanostores. Although modern retailing has grown in the last two decades in these markets, the number of nanostores is still increasing and serving a substantial part of the daily demand for many basic products, such as bread, milk, and cooking oil. We thus conduct an empirical study to understand the business environment of these nanostores in emerging markets by collecting data from 333 nanostores, spread over eight large cities in Morocco. We analyze the data, conduct a cluster analysis, and describe their business environment with a focus on their order behavior, which typically triggers the transportation decisions upstream in the supply chain. We find that the order information from these retailers may not be the best information to rely on when making transportation decisions. Our study also provides several interesting insights that may help organize transportation toward these nanostores in a fundamentally different way. We also discuss a number of opportunities to improve the efficiency of the supply chains that serve them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-81
Number of pages17
JournalTransportation Research Part A-Policy and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Big cities
  • Emerging markets
  • Empirical study
  • Goods transportation
  • Morocco
  • Nanostores
  • Supply chain management


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