Retailing is the business activity that involves selling products/services to costumers for their non-commercial, individual or family use. Normally, retailing is the final stage of the distribution process.

Retailing has been one of the fundamental building blocks of the Indian economy. It is estimated that by 2010, retailing in India will comprise a $300 billion industry if the economy continue to register a growth of 6 percent of the GDP annually.

The Indian Retail market has undergone an immense transformation in the post liberalization era. Due to the wide range of products available, the increasing purchasing power of consumers, superior supply chain management leading to economics of scale and a world class customer service, the Indian retail market is witnessing tremendous growth.

Over the past few years, industrial giants like Tata, eureka Forbes, Pantaloons, Big bazaar, Shopper’s stop and Lifestyle have made a foray into the Indian retail market. Globalization and the increase in the double income households has given a tremendous boost to the spending power of consumers thereby opening a plethora of opportunities for retailers. 

Types of Retailers

1) Retailing based on ownership:
Independent retailers - These retailers own only a single retail unit. In India, we have lakhs of retailers owning a single retail unit. Individual retail units can be set up very easily with minimum cost.

Chain retailership These retailers own several retail outlets. Purchasing decisions and activities are carried out centrally for these various outlets. Food world and Pantaloons are examples of chain retailers.

Leased department – It is another form of retailing based on ownership, a retailer takes a portion of major store or outlet on lease or rent. Big bazaar, a major retailer in India, leases out space to other retailers.

Consumer cooperatives –
These are retail outlets that are owned and operated by a group of consumers. The representatives of these consumers look after the day-to-day operations of the retail outlet. Anand Milk Producers’ Union Limited (AMUL) and Mother Dairy are examples of successful milk cooperatives.

2) Retailing based on the extent of product lines handled:
Specialty stores – It offers a wide selection of specially chosen goods pertaining to a single product line. These stores normally target selective and small segments of the market for sales. The stores are managed by personnel who are knowledgeable about the product line. An example of speciality stores are the Health & Glow stores set up by the Goenka Group.

Department stores – These are the general merchandise with considerably large retail space with separate sections allocated for food stuff, body care products and so on. They offer a wide selection of products to consumers. Westside, Pantaloons, Lifestyle are examples of department stores in India.

Discount stores – They are similar to the department stores except that these stores offer products at less than the retail price. Their purpose is to obtain profits on large volume sales. Big Bazaar is an example of discount stores.

Supermarkets – These retail outlets are based on the concept of self-service. The customer can pick up products on their own, from a wide variety of brands displayed. Food World and Trinetra are examples of supermarkets in India.

Hypermarkets - These are very large supermarkets with the shop floor area ranging between two lakh to three lakh square feet. Giant Hypermarket set up by RPG group in Hyderabad is the first of its kind in India.

3) Non-Store based Retailing:
Non-store retailing involves selling products in ways other than via conventional stores.

Direct selling – It is a process of selling the products directly to the customers by meeting them personally in their homes or offices. Eureka Forbes, Amway, Medicare and Tupperware are well known companies involved in direct selling.

Direct marketing – It is a process of exposing the consumer to the product or service through mails, telephone calls, satellite television or radio. For example, the Tele Shopping Network promoted new products to customers by exhibiting them on television channels.

Automatic vending – In this type of retailing, vending machines are used to dispense goods or services to customers without the involvement of a salesperson. When customers insert a coin or a card in a vending machine, it delivers the product to the customer. For example, Automatic milk vending booths.

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