All businesses that sell goods and services to consumers fall under the umbrella of retailing, but there are numerous distinctions we can take from here. To begin with, there are department stores, discount stores, specialty stores and even seasonal retailers. In some parts of the world, the retail business is dominated by smaller family-run or regionally-targeted stores, but this market is increasingly being taken over by billion-dollar multinational conglomerates like Wal-Mart and Target. The larger retailers have managed to set up huge supply/distribution chains, inventory management systems, financing pacts and wide scale marketing plans. Each retailer tries to differentiate itself from the competition, but the strategy that the company uses to sell its products is the most important factor.
Department stores are very large stores offering a huge assortment of goods and services. Discounter’s stores also tend to offer a wide array of products and services, but they compete mainly on price. Demographic are retailers that aim at one particular segment like high-end retailers focusing on wealthy individuals. During tough economic times, the discount retailers tend to outperform the others. The opposite is true when the economy is thriving. The more successful retailers attempt to combine the characteristics of more than one type of retailer to differentiate themselves from the competition. The profitability of individual companies depends on high volume sales, low-cost purchasing, and efficient distribution. Large chains dominate the market due to advantages in purchasing, distribution, and finance. The US industry is highly concentrated: the top four companies account for more than 90 percent of revenue. R...
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