Nama : Akadusyifa
NIM : B100110200
Makul : ManajemenPemasaran Retail
DosenPengampu : Anton Agus Setiyawan, SE, M.Si
Retailing in the 21stcentury : reflections and prologue to research
Robert A. Peterson*, Sridhar Balasubramanian1
The purpose of this introductory article is to argue for needed research on,
and in, retailing, and to provide a general context for the remaining articles and
research notes that appear in the special issue. As such, this article has two
interrelated themes, both of which originated as a result of reflections on the past,
present, and future state of retailing. The first theme is one that is critical for
systematic forward thinking about retailing. It consists of asking a relatively
straightforward and perhaps even rhetorical question: What is retailing? The
second theme builds upon the first. It consists of a call for comprehensive theories
of retailing and suggests a set of issues that deserve research attention.
By the late 1990s, the news media were replete with stories regaling the
future of "pure play" Internet retailers such as Amazon.com, Cdnow
(cdnow.com), Garden (garden.com), NetGrocer (netgrocer.com), Reel (reel.com),
and Virtual Vineyards (virtualvin.com). With the Internet being perceived as the
"foundation for a new industrial order" (Hamel & Sampler, 1998), any retailer
without a Web presence was labeled as recalcitrant with little hope of future
Then, reality struck. Presently only Amazon.com survives as an
independent entity, and questions continue to circulate regarding its long-term
viability. Retailers thatnow embrace the Internet treat it as a potential complement
to other channels or media, not as a panacea for retailing success.
Reflections on retailing
What is "retailing"? Is retailing simply an application of marketing, or is it
something unique? Before any construct or phenomenon can be comprehensively
investigated and understood, it must be concisely and clearly defined. Without a
consensual definition of a construct or phenomenon, there can be no coherent
discussion of it or any systematic body of knowledge constructed. As Pedhazur
and Schmelkin (1991, p. 164) have noted,
Even for people who speak the same language, words have different
meanings, depending on, among other things, who speaks, to whom, in what
context, at what time, and with what purpose .... The point is that the different
terms reflect different outlooks, values, attitudes, and the like.
Unless there is at least a modicum of agreement as to what constitutes
retailing, its boundaries-financial, industrial, behavioral, and so forth-will remain
amorphous and elusive. A relatively recent example of what can happen when
definitional disagreement occurs is the litigation that arose between Allied
Marketing Group and, among other firms, Samsonite Corporation. At issue was
the interpretation of a phrase relating to whether certain companies could sell
luggage "through direct to consumer trade channels, but not through retail trade
channels." Succinctly stated, the question was whether retailing could or should
be defined as a "direct to consumer trade channel."
A broad-ranging review of both the academic and the trade literature
related to retailing suggests that the definition of retailing frequently tends to be
(a) taken for granted (i.e., "everybody knows what retailing is"), (b) so ambiguous
as to be all-encompassing, and, consequently, meaningless, and/or (c) assumed to
be some generic form of store-based (fixed location) selling. Consider the selected
definitions of retailing presented in Table 1. These definitions were obtained from
a variety of business dictionaries and retailing textbooks published during the
period 19252001. Although no attempt was made to obtain a comprehensive set of
definitions, there is no reason to believe that the definitions are not representative
of the terms commonly used to define retailing. Perusal of these definitions
reveals that while they share numerous similarities, there are notable differences,
some inconsistencies, and a general lack of precision. For example, the definition
of Rosenberg (1993) would seem to apply equally well to manufacturers and
wholesalers in addition to retailers.
Next, consider various definitions of "retailers." Retailers have been
defined as firms "engaged primarily in retailing" (James, Walker &Etzel, 1981, p.
5), as "any business establishment that directs its marketing effort toward the final
consumer for the purpose of selling goods or services" (Lewison, 1997, p. 850), "a
business that sells products and services to ultimate consumers" (Levy &Weitz,
1996, p. 419), or as a merchant "whose primary activity is to sell directly to
consumers" (Rosenberg, 1993, p. 291).
Consequently, it may be necessary to precisely define them prior to
undertaking any definition of retailing. Direct marketing channels have
traditionally been described as consisting of telemarketing, direct response
advertising, catalog marketing, direct mail, facsimile-based marketing, and
broadcast-based marketing (e.g., television infomercials and sales networks) that
connect manufacturers and consumers. A direct selling channel has been
traditionally described as person-to-person selling away from a fixed business
location that connects manufacturers and consumers. However, in-store retailers
as well as nonstore retailers use telemarketing, direct response advertising, catalog
marketing, direct mail, facsimile-based marketing, broadcast-based marketing,
and direct selling when trying to sell products and services to potential customers.
Is direct marketing or direct selling a channel in the context of a manufacturer but
an activity or a technique in the context of a retailer? Questions such as this need
to be answered before retailing can be adequately defined.
Furthermore, when defining retailing, it is necessary to recognize Its
distinct facets and orientations. For example, there are at least three facets of
retailing that relate to selling- communication, distribution, and transaction. These
facets can be independent or interrelated, and activities relating to them may take
place simultaneously or sequentially in a given retailing situation. Two illustrative
orientations are reactivity and proactivity. They respectively indicate who initiates
a retailer-consumer interaction; retailing can be reactive, proactive, or both.
Consider retailing though the Internet. If undertaken through a Web site, it is
similar to in-store retailing, reactive in the sense that potential buyers have to take
the Initiative to "visit" the site prior to making a purchase. If undertaken through
blast-andresponse emailing, it is proactive and similar to nonstore retailing
because the retailer initiates individual contacts.
In brief, it is proposed that a new definition of retailing be developed that
reflects what retailing "really is." Such a definition would be responsive to the
changes that have taken place in retailing and would serve a unifying function by
focusing attention on what is known, and what needs to be known, about retailing.
Developing a new definition might require the sponsorship or auspices of a
respected entity such as the Journal of Retailing to achieve credibility. It might
also require the use of a "blue-ribbon committee," similar to those utilized by the
American Marketing Association, to develop a viable definition and increase the
likelihood that it will be widely accepted and adopted. Without a unifying
definition, a coherent body of knowledge about retailing is unlike to evolve.
This introduction to the special issue argues that two things are necessary
for progress to be made in understanding retailing and making it more effective
and efficient. First, a new definition of retailing is required that better reflects
what retailing "really is" and how it should be conceptualized and measured.
Second, in parallel with more focused research efforts, comprehensive theories of
retailing based on this new definition are required. Such theories will permit an
integration and synthesis of what is known, and not known, about retailing, and
will guide systematic investigations of both the nature and domain of retailing.
Because of its eminence, the Journal ofRetailingis a logical conduit for a new
definition and comprehensive theories of retailing.