Retailers: Meaning and Roles

Meaning of Retailers

The buyers who buy goods or services for selling them to final consumers are called retailers. Retailers are the last step of distribution channel. In the lack of it, functions of producers and wholesalers cannot be effective. Retailers are the business intermediaries. They work as the bridge between wholesalers
and final consumers. Retailers deal in small quantity. However, their total business transaction becomes very much. In French language, retailer means ‘to cut into small pieces’. It also makes clear that the function of buying goods in huge quantity from producers and selling out them in small quantity is called ‘retailing’. Every retailer sells goods or services to ultimate consumers in small quantity.

Different marketing experts and writers have defined retail trade and retailing. The important definitions are given as follows:

Prof. Philip Kotler has defined retailing and retail trade as, “Retailing includes all the activities involved in selling goods or services directly to the final consumers for their personal or non business use.”
Prof. William J. Stanton has defined it as, “A retail or retail store in a business enterprise that sells primarily (over one half of store sales volume) to household consumers for their non-business use.”
E. Jerome McCarthy has defined it as, “Retailing is selling to final consumer products to householders.”
Condiff and Still have defined retailing and retail trading as, “A retailer is a merchant or occasionally an agent whose main business is selling directly to the ultimate consumers.”
Such retailers are the different types. On the basis of business operation, they can be divided mainly into two classes as full service retailers and out-store retailers. Similarly, on the basis of the sales volume, retailers can be divided into two classes as large quantity selling retailers and small quantity selling retailers. In the same way, on the basis of dealing in goods, retailers can be divided into three classes as simple/general business product retailers, product line retailers and special retailers. Similarly, on the basis of ownership, retailers can be divided into four classes as independent store, consumer store, chain store and contract store.

Retailers provide various services. They supply goods or services by purchasing them from wholesalers to final consumers at right place and at right time when demanded. They also provide information about quality, utility and operation methods of the goods or services to the consumers. Besides, the retailers provide important information to wholesalers about market demand, consumers’ wants and purchasing power. From this, the wholesalers can take right decisions easily about what products should be sent to retailers or distributed, what products should be postponed from supplying.

Role of Retailer

The task of sending/distributing goods or services to different parts and places of any country is done by retailers. This task also takes responsibilities to improve people’s life standard and provide necessary services and facilities to the society. In addition to this, retailers’ have an important role in the development of national economy. Retailers have important role in distribution channel for the following reasons:

1. Efficiency in distribution

Retailers become efficient in their business. Retailing performs distribution more skillfully and efficiently than producers and wholesalers. Distribution of goods through retailers takes lower cost and the number of transactions becomes small. Retailers fully know about how to provide goods or services to all their customers, by which wholesalers get great help in distribution.

2. Market information

Retailers live in direct contact with consumers. They establish long and deep relationship with the consumers. So, retailers give all information to producers and wholesalers about the need, priority, wants and interests etc. of the consumers. Besides, they also give information to the producers and wholesalers about the activities of competitors, their products, price, promotional strategy etc. On the basis of the market information, the producers produce new goods. The retailers also collect information from producers and wholesalers and send them to consumers. This task benefits both two sides.

3. Financing

Retailers keep on selling goods even in small quantity every time. Hence, some amount of money is collected from continuous sale. Such cash amount can be paid to the wholesalers according to the right time, due to which both the wholesalers and producers become successful in financial management. The retailers also get ownership of the goods by purchasing them. As they get ownership of the goods, they also bear the risk.

4. Contact with consumers

As the retailers sell goods or services to consumers, they remain in close contact with them. They establish long and deep relationship with the consumers. The customers trust retailers more than the producers and wholesalers. So, the producers and wholesalers do not need to keep direct contact with consumers. This also makes clear about the importance of the role of retailers in the distribution system.

5. Selection facility

Retailers sell various goods produced by many producers. They purchase goods from producers and wholesalers and keep them in their own shop. The consumers get chances to buy such goods from the retailers’ shop whichever they like. The retailers in super markets, departmental stores, shopping centers etc. give ample chance to the customers to select goods.

6. After sale service

Retailers should also give all information about services what they can provide to the customers after sale of the goods. Retailers should make the customers believe that they can also get after sale service, for example, free repairing, instruction about the method of use, simple repair, how to keep the goods safe etc. After such services to be provided are ensured, the customers trust the retailers, due to which the sale quantity increases.

7. Sales of new products

Producers may produce different types of new goods. Retailers make flow of description and information about quality, features, utility and weaknesses of the new goods. On the basis of the same, the customers buy new products. In the lack of retailers, it becomes very difficult to get entrance to markets for the new goods. In this way, the retailers play a great role in selling new goods in markets.

8. Consumer satisfaction

Retailers know about the interests, wants, needs and purchasing power of their customers. They also know what goods they need what they demand at what time and season etc. and satisfy them by providing wanted goods. In the lack of retailers, it becomes very difficult to get such facilities for the consumers. In this way, the retailers keep the customers always happy and satisfied.

9. Home delivery service

Retailers promptly implement their customers’ order. Nowadays, the customers demand goods or services even through telephones. The retailers provide home delivery services to the customers who have no time or remain busy. Such facilities are also provided to the physically unable customers. Such simple and special activities have made the retailers more important in distribution system.

10. Seasonal goods

Retailers can well identify the wants and needs of the local customers. So, they also know about what kinds of goods in what season their customers want and provide them seasonal goods. For example, they provide warm clothes, jackets etc. in cold season and thin in hot seasons, coffee in cold seasons and cold drinks in hot season, umbrella, raincoat etc. in rainy season. So, retailers play very important role in distribution system.

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