Retail Stores as Communities or Hangouts

With the rise in the number of people living alone, working at home, or living in isolated and sprawling suburbs, there has been a resurgence of establishments that, regardless of the product or service they offer, also provide a place for people to get together. These places include coffee shops and cafés, shopping malls, bookstores, children's play spaces, superstores, and urban greenmarkets. For example, today's bookstores have become part bookstore, part library, part living room, and part coffeehouse. On an early evening at a local Barnes & Noble, you'll likely find backpack-toting secondary school students doing homework with friends in the coffee bar. Nearby, retirees sit in cushy chairs thumbing through travel or gardening books while parents read aloud to their children. Barnes &

Noble sells more than just books, it sells comfort, relaxation, and community.

Retailers don't create communities only in their brick-and-mortar stores. Many also build virtual communities on the Internet. A For example, Fiskars sells scissors, along with scrapbook-ing and crafting tools and supplies. A few years ago, Fiskars learned that its image was lackluster. In focus groups, respondents told the company that if Fiskars were a color, it would be beige; if it were a food, it would be saltines. So, to light a fire under the brand, the company created Fiskateers, an exclusive online community of crafters:30

get a box that includes crafting supplies plus unique two-tone scissors available only to members. But, most importantly, you get to connect online at to draw ideas and support from fellow crafters. Crafting enthusiasts couldn't wait to join. In just over a year, Fiskars has grown the community to include more than 4,000 members, 20 times its original goal. In that time, mentions of Fiskars in online chatter has surged by a factor of six. Fiskars has found that building relationships with and between the crafting enthusiasts is more important than the week's sales numbers. More than creating sales, the Fiskateers community creates collaboration between the company and important customers. "We are actually listening to them," says the president of Fiskars' School, Office, and Craft Division, "and they are listening to us."31

Wholesaling: Many of the largest and most important wholesalers—like Grainger—are largely unknown to final consumers. But they are very well known and much valued by the business customers they serve.

Author I whereas retailers Comment | primarily sell goods and services directly to final consumers for personal use, wholesalers sell primarily to those buying for resale or business use. Because wholesalers operate behind the scenes, they are largely unknown to final consumers. But they are very important to their business . customers.


All activities involved in selling goods and services to those buying for resale or business use.


A firm engaged primarily in wholesaling activities.

Wholesaling (pp 413-418)

Wholesaling includes all activities involved in selling goods and services to those buying for resale or business use. We call wholesalers those firms engaged primarily in wholesaling activities.

Wholesalers buy mostly from producers and sell mostly to retailers, industrial consumers, and other wholesalers. As a result, many of the largest and most important wholesalers are largely unknown to final consumers. AFor example, you may never have heard of Grainger, even though it's very well known and much valued by its more than 1.8 million business and institutional customers across North America.

Grainger may be the biggest market leader you've never heard of. It's a $6.4 billion business that offers more than 800,000 maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) products to more than 1.8 million customers. Through its branch network, service centers, sales reps, catalog, and Web site, Grainger links customers with the supplies they need to keep their facilities running smoothly—everything from light bulbs, cleaners, and display cases to nuts and bolts, motors, valves, power tools, and test equipment. Grainger's 606 North American branches, 18 strategically located distribution centers, more than 17,000 employees, and innovative Web site handle more than 115,000 transactions a day. Its customers include organizations ranging from factories, garages, and grocers to schools and military bases. Most American businesses are located within 20 minutes of a Grainger branch. Customers include notables such as Abbott Laboratories, General Motors, Campbell Soup, American Airlines, Chrysler, and the U.S. Postal Service.

Grainger operates on a simple value proposition: to make it easier and less costly for customers to find and buy MRO supplies. It starts by acting as a one-stop shop for products needed to maintain facilities. On a broader level, it builds lasting relationships with customers by helping them find solutions to their overall MRO problems. Acting as consultants, Grainger sales reps help buyers with everything from improving their supply chain management to reducing inventories and streamlining warehousing operations. So, how come you've never heard of Grainger? Maybe it's because the company operates in the not-so-glamorous world of MRO supplies, which are important to every business but not so important to consumers. More likely, it's because Grainger is a wholesaler. And like most wholesalers, it operates behind the scenes, selling only to other businesses.32

Why are wholesalers important to sellers? For example, why would a producer use wholesalers rather than selling directly to

Wholesaling: Many of the largest and most important wholesalers—like Grainger—are largely unknown to final consumers. But they are very well known and much valued by the business customers they serve.

Merchant wholesaler

An independently owned business that takes title to the merchandise it handles.


A wholesaler who does not take title to goods and whose function is to bring buyers and sellers together and assist in negotiation.


A wholesaler who represents buyers or sellers on a relatively permanent basis, performs only a few functions, and does not take title to goods.

Manufacturers' sales branches and offices

Wholesaling by sellers or buyers themselves rather than through independent wholesalers.

retailers or consumers? Simply put, wholesalers add value by performing one or more of the following channel functions:

• Selling and promoting: Wholesalers' sales forces help manufacturers reach many small customers at a low cost. The wholesaler has more contacts and is often more trusted by the buyer than the distant manufacturer.

• Buying and assortment building: Wholesalers can select items and build assortments needed by their customers, thereby saving the consumers much work.

• Bulk breaking: Wholesalers save their customers money by buying in carload lots and breaking bulk (breaking large lots into small quantities).

• Warehousing: Wholesalers hold inventories, thereby reducing the inventory costs and risks of suppliers and customers.

• Transportation: Wholesalers can provide quicker delivery to buyers because they are closer than the producers.

• Financing: Wholesalers finance their customers by giving credit, and they finance their suppliers by ordering early and paying bills on time.

• Risk bearing: Wholesalers absorb risk by taking title and bearing the cost of theft, damage, spoilage, and obsolescence.

• Market information: Wholesalers give information to suppliers and customers about competitors, new products, and price developments.

• Management services and advice: Wholesalers often help retailers train their salesclerks, improve store layouts and displays, and set up accounting and inventory control systems.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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