The retailers play the role of sales specialists and also as agents of purchase for their customers and suppliers respectively. Retailers handle the entire gamut of roles and functions aiming at understanding customer requirements and anticipating the demand, gathering information about the market trends through strong market intelligence and making product related assortments and discovering financing opportunities.
It is relatively easier to become a retailer, as large investment is not required, procurement of production equipment is not required, and a retailer can procure merchandise on the basis of credit.
The retail sector in the present scenario is witnessing a fierce competition as a large number of retail players have entered in the same market segment with similar product offerings. The only differentiating factor which may provide a winning edge in the competitive race is by providing better value to the consumers and satisfying the consumers with their offerings. Besides this, a retailer should also be providing justice to the producers and also to the wholesalers by ensuring that their products are sold to the ultimate consumers.
For expansion of business opportunities globally and tapping larger business prospects, large retailers have been diversifying their business formats by way of mergers or acquisitions to cater to the growing needs of a diverse and a larger customer segment. Moreover, the retail industry has been impressive regarding generating large-scale employment opportunities worldwide which is expected to grow at a much faster rate in comparison with the other sectors performance in future as well.
The retail sector has opened newer job avenues for people having different areas of specialization with diverse skills and qualification backgrounds. These opportunities could be in the areas of Finance & Accounting, Retail Operations, Commercial Operations, Inventory & Warehousing, SCM & Logistics, HRM, Distribution Systems, Marketing & Brand Management, IT, New Products Development & Market Research/Business Analysis.
In the present business scenario, social responsibility and increasing importance are being given to driving the functions of marketing functions with a sense of social responsibility. This has resulted in retail organizations paying a great deal of attention towards the social responsibilities which they have towards their customers.
Regulation and control from various pressure groups such as social activists, social workers, and consumer activists compel the retailers in implementing their marketing programmes restrictively and communicating the true picture about the benefits or harms of using a product.
The retail fraternity should give importance to the cultural differences and also the differences in the values, beliefs, and faith of people while formulating their marketing strategies and business development plans. This will be helpful in meeting the demands of the consumers by understanding their expectations. The marketing department of retail companies is engaged in identifying the opportunities and threats to the business of the company by analyzing the socio-cultural trends and the buying preferences of the consumers.
Retailing contributes to the economy: The importance of retail sector is reflected in its contribution to the growth of an economy. Its contribution is much more visible in the modern era than it was in the past. As the retail sector is linked to the significant portion of the economy, its contribution to GDP is substantial. Retailing is the driving force of the economy. It aims at promoting its sustained growth.
Retailing shapes the lifestyle of the people: Retailing is an integral part of the modern society. It shapes the way of life. In the past, trading of goods was a part of a traditional society. But in recent times, buying and selling of goods have become a brand dominated activity.
Retailing is interdisciplinary: The pace of growth within retailing is accelerating. Retailing has emerged from a number of interrelated disciplines such as geography, economics, management and marketing.
Retailing dominates the supply chain: Goods and service flow from manufacturers or service providers to consumers. Where consumers are large in number and are widely distributed, the role of retailers becomes crucial. Retailers serve as a connecting link between the wholesalers and consumers. Due to its dominant position in the supply chain, the retail structure has steadily developed over the years.
Retailers enjoy status as major employers: In today’s society, retailers are the major employers. It is estimated in developed countries that retail industry employs one in nine of the workforce. Retailers employ a significant proportion of the overall workforce.
Retailing is acknowledged as a subject area in its own right: Potter has described the academic study of retailing as the “Cinderella of the social sciences“. Retailing is an accepted area of academic debate, such as marketing and management, developed fully as an area of study. University research centres focus on retailing and professional appointments in retailing have been made. Academic journals focusing on retailing are being published worldwide.
Retailing has scope for expanding internationally: Retailing offers scope for shifting retail operations outside the home market. Retailers who focus on luxury goods markets are expanding their business internationally. Retailers are moving into more geographically and culturally distant markets.
Retailers are gatekeepers within the channel of distribution: Retailers are becoming increasingly important in their role as gatekeepers within the channel of distribution. In the past, Suppliers were dominant. Retailers supplied the merchandise that was on offer and consumers selected from them. As retailers have become significantly powerful, they are able to influence suppliers and stock only the brands they wish to sell. So, consumers are able to buy only what is stocked and offered to them by the retailers. Retailers are thus considered as shaping consumer demand.