Embeddedness, and its constituent types, has been employed as a conceptual framework to explain the processes of host market acculturation in retail internationalisation. The retail industry is not, however, a homogeneous business sector. Differences exist between retail sectors, retail formats and governance modes in how retail business models evolve and how a retail business operates in a market. These differing characteristics alongside the coercive, mimetic and agency pressures arising from interactions among institutions, consumer market cultures and firms determine the emphasis placed upon different embeddedness types and how embeddedness occurs. Consideration of these factors allows us to ‘dissect’ the generic embeddedness concept and gain a more nuanced understanding of the processes involved. A deeper understanding of the nature and process of embeddedness will support future studies using the concept across many economic sectors.