Retailing and Wholesaling


Retailing is the act of selling products or services to people for their personal, nonbusiness use. A retailer is a business that specializes in the act of retailing primarily. With such a broad definition, the types of retailers are vast and are categorized based on their different characteristics. The distinctive characteristics and examples that are most relevant to me as a consumer are below:

Amount of Service

The amount of service that is offered from a retailer attracts different consumers as different consumers and products being sold require different levels of service:

  1. Self-service retailers- customers who are willing to find the items they want and compare the prices of similar products by themselves to save both time and money (i.g. Target, Walmart, and Safeway)
  2. Limited-service retailers- customers shop on their own but have a higher availability of service from sales assistants due to the increased amount of product available (i.g. Macy’s, Lowe’s, and Staples)
  3. Full-service retailers- customers are given more attention, as this style is usually a part of high-end stores carrying more specialty goods that customers need advice with (i.g Bloomingdales, Cartier, and Sur La Table)

Product Line

The number and diversity of products that they offer to consumers can also categorize retailers.

  1. Specialty stores- retailers that sell a very narrow selection of products but have a deep array of variations within each of those product lines, recently increased in popularity (i.g. North Face, Steve Madden, Apple)
  2. Department stores- these stores carry a large variety of different product lines and are viewed as a more flexible version of specialty stores, often differentiated on level of service (i.g. JCPenny’s, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman)
  3. Supermarkets- these retailers are the most frequently visited and operate on mostly self-service as they are designed to fulfill consumers grocery and household items needs with their high volumes of product (i.g.  Ralph’s, Safeway, and Grocery Outlet)
  4. Convenience stores- reatilers that carry a low volume of convenience goods that have accommodating locations and hours for consumers but have relatively higher prices on items (i.g. QuikTrip, Pilot, and Circle K)
  5. Superstores- stores that are similar to supermarkets and offer a more diverse assortment of products and services (i.g. Walmart, Target, and Barnes and Noble)
  6. Category killers- stores that are extremely large and carry a very diverse assortment of a minimal product line (i.g. Petco, Lowe’s, and Best Buy)
  7. Service retailers- product being offered is a service (i.g. hotels, banks, schools, restaurants, movie theaters, mechanics, dry cleaners)

Relative Prices

One of the easiest ways for retailers to be classified is by the varied prices they offer. Normally, the prices offered correlate directly with the quality of the goods or services offered by the retailers

  1. Discount stores- offer standard merchandise at lower prices by selling at high volumes and offering few services to consumers, typically utilize warehouses (i.g. Target and Walmart)
  2. Off-price retailers- extremely low prices and high volumes of products

a. Independent off-price retailers- divisions of larger retail stores that are usually owned by retail chains (i.g. Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and

b. Factory outlets- retailers owned by the name brand firms that offer lower priced versions of its products to consumers, usually grouped together in their own factory outlet malls (i.g. Camarillo Premium Outlets-North Face, Nike, Kate Spade, and Banana Republic

3. Warehouse clubs- often require customers to have memberships in order to purchase large volumes of product at extremely low prices in bare-bones warehouse environments (i.g. Costco and Sam’s Club)

Organizational Approach

Finally, retailers can be categorized based on the organizational structure that they are based upon:

  1. Corporate chains- two or more retailing outlets that are controlled and owned by a common entity (i.g. restaurants and hotels

a.     Voluntary chains- retailers that are sponsored by a retailer and buys common merchandise as a group (i.g. insurance companies)

b.     Retail cooperatives- independent retailers that use joint owned wholesale locations with joint merchandising and promotion efforts (i.g. Ace Hardware)

2.     Franchise organizations- a retailer that has a contract with a wholesaler, manufacturer,, service organization, or independent person who owns the right to conduct business in more than one location (i.g. Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Domino’s)


Retailer Marketing Strategies

Retailer Marketing Strategies


As opposed to retailing, wholesaling is the act of selling products or services for the use in businesses. That being said, the wholesaling diversity is much more narrow than that of the retailing industry. The types of wholesalers are listed and described below:

  1. Merchant wholesalers- wholesalers that are independently owned and place their names on the products that are sold by them
  2. Brokers- wholesalers who make the connections between buyers and sellers by assisting and negotiating, but do not apply their names to the products
  3. Agent- a consistently used wholesaler who preforms a minimal amount of functions for a buyer or seller and does not place their name on the products
  4. Manufacturer’s sales branches and offices- wholesalers that utilize buyers and sellers rather than relying on independent wholesalers



Wholesaler Marketing Strategy

Wholesaler Marketing Strategy


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