Despite the undoubted importance of the wholesaler in the chain of distribution, it seems inevitable that the development of retailing into large units will encourage manufacturers increasingly to direct their ONLINE MARKETING approach to the retail outlet.

There are other factors which weigh heavily in favour of direct-to-retailer marketing. The increasing size of modern manufacturing enterprises is creating greater financial resources at the disposal of the manufacturer which has resulted in considerable diversification into related product lines. Thus a range of items can be offered to individual retailers, resulting in viable aggregate orders which can be handled economically. Furthermore, the adoption of 'brand image' ONLINE MARKETING techniques backed by powerful consumer advertising helps to create a rapid demand which in turn provides for economic production runs.

The Function of the Retailer

The function of the retailer in the modern pattern of distribution has become increasingly complex. Essentially, his role is that of a local supplier of merchandise offering a direct service to the public. The means by which he provides this service are extremely varied. He frequently breaks bulk. He prepares the goods for resale, often providing expertise and advice for his customers and maintaining an after-sales service. He provides credit and hire purchase facilities.

In former times the boundaries between one trade and another were clearly defined. New ONLINE MARKETING concepts have tended to blur these boundaries, particularly as the result of the technique of 'related selling' where additional sales may be achieved by the offer of related items of merchandise.

Categories of Retailers

The last half-century has seen a revolution in the structure of retail trade in Britain. The independent shop, once pre-eminent, has been declining rapidly in the face of changes in the pattern of social behaviour on the one hand and the growth of large-scale retail enterprises on the other.

Shopping has ceased to be a social occasion. To 'go shopping' was once an important and, for many housewives, one of the only opportunities for social intercourse. The advent of the family car, the increase in the employment of women, which reduces the time available for shopping, plus a general increase in leisure-time pursuits, has increased the popularity of buying a wide range of goods under one roof. This has resulted in the development of large-scale retailing, epitomized by the supermarket for foodstuffs and many other items in the regular housekeeping budget.

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