Retailers are a part of a dynamic world today. The retailer faces a more knowledgeable and demanding consumer and since business to satisfy the needs of the consumers, the demands and expectations of the consumers often have forced retail organizations to change their formats and product offerings.
While a large number of retail formats continue to exist in most markets across the world, what has also changed is the range of services offered. The customer demands convenience, and a certain level of comfort while shopping. Time required to shop and to travel to a particular location are important factors that effect the consumer’s decision. This has led to the rise of specialists and the increase in the services offered by the retailer. For example, the petrol pump not only retails petrol and diesel, but also has a speed mart and ATM.
The introduction of the Private Label:
An increasingly large number of retailers now decide on the products that they want to stock. They decide on the brands that they want to stock. Retail shelf space is now of prime importance. Another significant change is that, most retail stores have developed their own in-store brands/ products known as private labels. These private labels cater specifically to the needs of their target customers and have been created not only by the large departmental and specialty stores, but also by the grocery retail chains.
With the increasing use of technology and the use of the Point of sale scanning systems and the barcode, a wealth of information is now available to the retailer. This information enables the retailer to understand the consumer profile of his store, the products purchased, the price ranges and the promotional offers which have worked. Retailers have developed their own customer cards, which help them track purchases and learn more about the lifestyles of their customers. What is more, they can create products targeted for specific customers.
The arrival of the Internet has made it possible for business to develop across geographies at both business to business or B2B, and business to consumer or B2C levels. This has not only enhanced the economies of scale available, but has also made it enter the retail market.
Innovative retailers can now offer their products and services on the internet, without actually having a brick and mortar store, while traditional retailers are setting up their own online operations. This has also been in India, where organizations like Hindustan Unilever Limited are also getting into online retailing. However, the fact does remain that a large number of internet retailers have not met with much success. The need of the hour is to develop an effective business model which will integrate online and offline selling.
The opening up of international borders, making the world a global village, advances in technology and the growth of consumerism have had a tremendous impact on retail. Retailers have been forced to think of ways of reducing supply chain costs and his led to the development of concepts like Category Management and Efficient Consumer Response (ECR).
The need to grow not only nationally but also internationally, has led to the field of retail witnessing many a mergers. The merger of Carrefour and Promodes has created the single largest retailer outside the United States of America. On the other hand, the merger of Asda with Wal – Mart has allowed Wal-Mart to operate in the United Kingdom as Asda. Power has shifted to retailers, but success is still dependent on good market driven actions. Today, a large number of retail organizations across the world share information with their manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that the right product is available to the consumer, at the right place and time.
Today, specialist retailers are not new. Whether it is a mass specialty retailer like Toys R Us or a niche specialty like Big and Tall, they know their target market very well. The emergence of Amazon.com and e-bay has changed the dynamics of the retail business. In the years to come, it is believed that mobile retail will gain the dynamics of this industry.
Retailers are no longer dependant on the manufacturers to sell what is available and have emerged as the new leaders in the marketing channel.