Retailing and Selling

This Chapter discusses the core concepts of retailing which is the selling of goods and services to the general public rather than to other businesses. A number of retailing theories are explored, built around cyclical approaches such as the Wheel of Retailing, the Retail Accordion and the Retail Lifecycle Theory and non-cyclical views such as Conflict Theory and Environmental Evolution Theory. In discussing these approaches, the Chapter seeks to provide an indication behind the actions motivating consumer behaviours and what approaches retailers can adopt in order to anticipate and satisfy their requirements.

In considering how retailers seek to meet these demands, a range of retailing formats are outlined noting how they each present distinct advantages and challenges to both consumers and the businesses concerned. Store based approaches with the focus on the maintenance of a physical premise that customers visit are reviewed, with distinct formats such as department stores, chain stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, convenience stores, self-service operations, franchise approaches and discount stores explained. Non-store based retailing models are also covered, such as mail order, direct mail and catalogue sales methods, noting how these are being overtaken and/or absorbed by internet-based concepts. The term ‘category killer’ (the way in which larger retailers attack smaller competitors) is also explained.

The way in which the effective use of space can increase sales and provide a source of competitive advantage is examined in the Chapter. Essentially, if customers enjoy the experience, they are more likely to return. Store layout options are reviewed, discussing grid-based layouts (a logical approach, maximising space utilisation), free-form asymmetric layouts (create different ‘islands of interest’) and ‘racetrack’ models (creating a floorplan with independent retail spaces). The way in which external design features such as window displays and marketing around store entrances are also used to advertise products/services and entice customers to enter the premises is also considered. Atmospheric factors such as colour, music/sound and smell are also employed to stimulate emotions or create conscious or subconscious associations.

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Having looked at the issues surrounding store layouts and associated factors, the Chapter then considers the importance of the elements that make up the retailing marketing mix. These are the product mix - the breadth, depth and variety the retailer chooses to stock which will change over time, the price mix - the price ranges applied by the retailer which will indicate the competitive positioning adopted and the markets being targeted, the placement mix - ensuring that the right products are in the right place at the right time and in the right quantities; and the promotional mix - considering the promotion of the retail firm and the products they sell. In reviewing these aspects, the importance of branding and store location is recognised.

The Chapter closes by highlighting how a customer’s overall experience is shaped by all of their interactions with a retail business. This supports an examination of sales theories and techniques such as the AIDAS framework (attention, interest, desire action), Situation Response Theory, Buying Formula Theory and Behaviour Equation Theory.


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