What is Retail?

Transformation is one word which can best describe the state of the retail industry at a global and the Indian level. Retailing by its very nature, is a dynamic industry. The past decade has been one of turmoil and transition in the world of retail. Some economies roared ahead, and then rebounded. Competition heated up and consumer spending cooled down. New giants emerged and erstwhile leaders faded. Entire industry segments emerged only to make way for new ones once again. Mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies hastened consolidation. Technological advances transformed business practices. New leaders reengineered business models and invested in new infrastructure.

The emergence of the 24 / 7 culture has had a very strong impact on the changes occurring in many industries. Each passing year has had new and far reaching effects on the retail industry and this is not surprising considering that retail is an industry which is all about change. The next ten years will undoubtedly hold even more changes than the last decade.

This article is an introduction to retail. We start this article by understanding the concept of retail and the functions performed by a retailer. The marketing – retail equation is then explored. The significance of retail as an industry examined and the reasons for the emergence of the retailer as a strong marketing outlet are looked into. Gaining an insight into the global retail market, its key players, the markets that they compete in and the formats that they operate in helps us understand the dynamics of the global retail industry. Many international retailers are now looking at India with a keen interest towards tapping the market. India is a favored retail destination and finally retail is also a good career option.

Retail is the final stage of any economic activity. By virtue of the fact, retail occupies an important place in the world economy. In an attempt to understand the scope of the term retail, various definitions of the term have been examined.

Retailing includes all the activities involved in selling goods or services to the final consumers for personal, non-business use. A retailer or retail store is any business enterprise whose sale volume comes primarily from retailing.

Any organization selling to final consumers whether it is a manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer is doing retailing. It does not matter how the goods or services are sold by person, mail, telephone, vending machine or internet or where they are sold – in a store, on the street or in the consumer’s home.

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) specifies that the retail trade sector comprise establishments primarily engaged in retailing merchandize, generally without transformation, and rendering services incidental to the sale of merchandize.

The word retail is derived from the French word retaillier which means to cut of a piece or to break bulk. Therefore a retailer may be defined as a dealer or trader who sells goods in small quantities or one who repeats or relates.

Retailing thus, may be understood as the final step in the distribution of merchandize for consumption by the end consumers. Put simply, any form that sells products to the final consumer is performing the function of retailing. It this consists of all activities involved in the marketing of goods and services directly to the consumers, for their personal family or household use.

It is necessary to understand that in the complex world of trade toady, retail would include not only goods but also services that may be provided to the end consumer. In an age where the customer is the king and marketers are focusing on customer delight, retail may be redefined as the first point of customer contact.