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The Use of Retailers

Watch this to unpack the role of retail for Business Higher (for all shopaholics)

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Here in Scotland, the phrase ‘going to the shops’ can mean several things. It can be heading to Tesco to stock the cupboards for the week ahead; it can be a Saturday afternoon on Buchanan Street treating yourself to new outfits; it can simply be popping out to your local store for everyday supplies.

In business terms, shops represent the world of retail; the origins of which go back to a time when wooly mammoths roamed the earth and people from different areas would trade livestock like cows, camels and sheep. In modern times, the world of retail contains mammoths of a different kind, from the American giant Walmart to e-commerce titan Amazon, Swedish success story Ikea, to the sprawling shopping mega-malls of Asia.

So, let’s shop.

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The world of retail has seen a great deal of change, and if you’ve studied National 5 Business, the requirements for this particular aspect of the Higher course change also. At N5 you’d be expected to detail factors affecting a business’ location and talk about methods of distribution.

Before we go on, let’s note a key difference. For Higher level, the focus is on Channels of Distribution. Watch out for the slight change in terminology but similar wording. Channels of distribution include Direct Selling, Wholesalers and of course Retailers.

The question here centres on Waitrose’s use of three distinct retail channels: a superstore, a website, and convenience stores. Therein lies the first challenge, make sure you’re aware of the various types of retail setup. Add department stores, discount stores, and out-of-town retail parks to complete the list. The last one’s easy to remember using the abbreviation ‘OOT’!

Hopefully, you’ll find it useful to think of examples to help you remember the retail types. I usually think of Silverburn and Braehead for good examples of OOT’s, Amazon for online retail, Aldi and Lidl for discount stores, and John Lewis and Harrods for department stores.

One other thing to be wary of, again referring to that 2021 question, is the need to answer from a customer’s perspective [on screen text 1] . The flip side of this would be writing an answer from the Waitrose business viewpoint, so be careful to pick up the question specifics.

To be fully prepared for questions on retailers, you’ll need to be aware of the corresponding advantages and disadvantages of each. Think of it like this [on screen text 2] Big superstores like Tesco Extra allow the business to offer a huge product range however the running costs are high for such a large space, or, [on screen text 3] Discount stores like Aldi attract many customers by offering value for many but some may be deterred and will prefer a more premium brand image elsewhere.

One last thing to be aware of on this topic is trends in retail patterns over time. Historically here in the UK, the high street was the home of retail including household names like Woolworths and BHS. Names which, as a pupil, you may not even recall as these companies collapsed some years ago.

This was partly due to the growth in online retail alongside other factors like the growing popularity of out-of-town retail parks like Silverburn shopping centre. Some high street firms have chosen to relocate to these venues as increasing numbers of customers are drawn there due to the wide range of facilities on offer such as cinemas and restaurant chains.

The high street will always be popular for certain types of retail business though. As you may be able to tell, I’m not a man who visits the barbers often but if I did, I’d have to physically go there to access that service as it’s not something I can buy on Amazon.

Perhaps next time you ‘go to the shops’ you could consider supporting your local high street retailers to help keep a longstanding tradition alive.

Spend wisely.

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