Understanding the fragmented demand for urban transportation for nanostores in emerging markets

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 a new paper, Boulaksil et. al. study such small traditional retailers located in the neighborhoods of big cities in emerging markets. They 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. The researchers conducted 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.

The researchers analyzed the data, conducted a cluster analysis, and described their business environment with a focus on their order behavior, which typically triggers the transportation decisions upstream in the supply chain. They found that the order information from these retailers may not be the best information to rely on when making transportation decisions. The study also provides several interesting insights that may help organize transportation toward these nanostores in a fundamentally different way. The researchers present opportunities to improve the efficiency of the supply chains that serve them.


Boulaksil, Y., Fransoo, J. C., Blanco, E. E., & Koubida, S. (2019). Understanding the fragmented demand for transportation–Small traditional retailers in emerging markets. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 130, 65-81.

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