Functions of retailing
From the customer point of view, the retailer serves him by providing the goods that he needs in the required assortment, at the required place and time.
1. Arranging Assortment:manufacturers usually make one or a variety of products and would like to sell their entire inventory to few buyers to reduce costs. Final consumers, in contrast prefer a large variety of goods and services to choose from and usually buy them in small units.
2. Breaking Bulk: to reduce transportation costs, manufacturer and wholesalers typically ship large cartons of the products, which are then tailored by the retailers into smaller quantities to meet individual consumption needs
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There are many retailers doing great work on behalf of the environment and their communities, but I don’t think any would be offended if we just declared Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) the gold standard. MEC is a ten-store Canadian chain.
The adjacent sidebar (adapted from the MEC website) could serve as an industry wide statement of values and purpose. Their green building story is utterly inspiring. And perhaps best of all, they are the un-Wal-Mart, endeavoring to use their buying power with high purpose.
We’ve all observed the way Wal-Mart’s relentless pursuit of rock bottom prices has had deleterious effects for both people and planet up and down the supply chain. This is the inevitable result of a reductionist, one dimensional approach to both value and wellbeing. To paraphrase Theodore Roszak from the forward to the classic book Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher, “What sort of business is it that must, for the sake of market share, hope and pray that people will never be their better selves, but always be greedy social idiots with nothing finer to do than getting and spending, getting and spending?”
MEC offers a classic example of the Wal-Mart ethos turned on its head. Instead of using their buying power to effectively drive down wages and environmental standards across the planet, they are actively engaged in both educating their customers on issues of sustainability and lifting the standards of all business partners. (Check out their Supplier Team Evaluation Process (STEP), not to mention their organic cotton initiative.)
Every retailer has the opportunity to engage their customers on issues of sustainability (as well as local environmental and social issues, if desired), in a non-invasive way. The idea is to nurture an upward spiral of values that is good for the environment, good for your community, and what the hell, good for your store! One of the objectives of the Green Steps Association going forward is to develop a magazine similar in format and content to this one, but calibrated for a general readership. The magazine would be provided to interested retailers for free distribution to their customers. Values-oriented in-store signage can be a great tool for this purpose, and it’s our intention to invite companies within the industry to collaborate on materials of this nature. Events, from clean-up days to concerts to composting workshops, can also be a great opportunity to connect with the community and provide tools and resources.
As a retailer, perhaps your primary tool in terms of affecting change is your buying power. Wield those dollars with a dual purpose—both to meet the needs of your customers and to support the companies in the industry who are doing positive work on behalf of issues you care about. Communicate your specific concerns about issues that are important to you to the companies you work with. Another objective of the Green Steps Association is to establish a web forum where retailers can share...