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retail store The word "retail" is derived from the French word retaillier, which means "to cut off a piece" or "to break bulk". Simply put, retailing involves purchasing goods in bulk and selling them individually to the consumer for a profit margin. Retailers of the past simply set up storefronts with a limited variety of items and stayed in business by filling an existing need, but those days are rapidly disappearing for today's retailer, who must be more innovative and provide specialty items and service or risk going out of business.

The proliferation of convenient goods and services and rapidly evolving trends and technology necessitates that retailers become increasingly creative. In addition to brick and mortar locations, products are now being sold via the TV, catalog, and Internet. The explosion of "big-box" stores bringing the manufacturer or wholesaler directly to the consumer has had a devastating effect on many smaller retailers but has given way to a consumer movement in response. Educated consumers of today are increasingly demanding top-quality merchandise, better service, and socially-responsible manufacturing, which presents a great opportunity for the retail industry.

Advances in technology will continue to directly affect the way that consumers purchase goods and services. Certain items are better suited to Internet, catalog, and TV sales, and smaller retailers must be able to rapidly evolve with the changing market and provide certain intangibles in order to keep costumers from abandoning them altogether. Brick and mortar retailers will increasingly cater to more affluent customers who desire convenience and individualized service. It will soon become necessary for even the smallest of retailers to establish an online presence as well as a stable location to increase sales.

Humans have an innate need for social contact, and rapid technological advances are leaving us increasingly isolated. Ultimately, this leads to a consumer desire to meet personal and household needs in a way that promotes human contact, thus benefiting the local retail store. Even with the advent of online shopping and big-box stores, most consumers still frequent grocery stores, clothing stores, and specialty retail stores. Successful retailers will need to craft an environment that not only provides quality merchandise, but friendly, personal service and a relaxing interactive venue for shopping. Despite our ever-changing world, retailing in various forms is here to stay, and the retailer of the future will take care to observe and accommodate for societal changes and consumer needs.

Retailing Directories and Resources

  • National Retail Federation
    The NRF is a retail industry advocacy organization that advances the industry through professional seminars, trade conferences, publications and educational activities.
    www.NRF.com
  • Retailing Today
    This international newspaper and online magazine serves the retail market and its diverse channels.  Its coverage of the retail industry includes news articles, trend insights, and research reports.
    www.RetailingToday.com
  • Journal of Retailing
    This print journal, published by Elsevier, is dedicated to advancing the state of knowledge and its application to all aspects of retailing.
    Journals.Elsevier.com/journal-of-retailing/
  • Retailing.org
    This membership organization focuses on electronic retailing, direct response firms, and their suppliers.
    www.Retailing.org
  • Forbes Retail
    Respected source of information and news about major retailers, general retailing trends, and the retail industry.
    www.Forbes.com/retail/

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