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Glossary of Retailing Terms - Index of All Terms

Learn more about the retail business by browsing this dictionary of retailing terminology. The following retail-related words on this page feature definitions of all terms. For detailed descriptions, view the individual glossary entry page for each term.

Glossary Index: A | B | C | D | E | F | G| H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

80/20 Rule
A commonly used rule of thumb, the 80/20 Rule, implies that a small number of events (20%) is responsible for a large percentage (80%) of the results. The principle was suggested by Joseph M. Juran and named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Acid-Test Ratio
A measurement of how well a business can meet its short-term financial obligations without selling any inventory.

Ad Slick
Ad slicks refers to the final, camera-ready advertisement. It gets its name from the glossy paper on which it is printed.

Add-On Sales
Add-on sales is the promotion of additional products or services to a customer at the time of purchase.

Anchor Store
A major retail store used to drive business to smaller retailers. These larger department stores or grocery stores are generally part of a retail chain and are the prominent business in a shopping mall.

Atmosphere
Atmosphere is the physical characteristics and surrounding influence of a retail store that is used to create an image in order to attract customers.

Average Inventory Cost
Average inventory cost is found by adding the beginning cost inventory for each month plus the ending cost inventory for the last month in the period. If calculating for a season, divide by 7. If calcualting for a year, divide by 13.

Big Box Stores
Large stand-alone store with varying market niches.

Bill of Lading
A bill of lading is a document used as evidence that a transport company or carrier received goods from a shipper.

Black Friday
Black Friday is used to describe a number of historical Fridays in which an event led to public chaos or disaster.

Blue Law
Rules created to prohibit particular activities to certain days or hours. Many blue laws have been removed from the law books or are no longer enforced.

Booking Program
A vendor booking program is the opportunity to view new products or samples now and to place an order for that merchandise to be delivered at a later date.

Brand Awareness
A gauge of marketing effectiveness measured by the ability of a customer to recognize and/or recall a name, image or other mark associated with a particular brand.

Brand
A brand is a name, symbol or other identifying mark for a seller's goods or services. It is distinct from other sellers.

Break-Even Point
What is the break-even point? The point in business where the sales equal the expenses. There is no profit and no loss.

Brick and Mortar
Brick and mortar store refers to retail shops that are located in a building as opposed to an online shopping destination, door-to-door sales, kiosk or other similar site not housed within a structure.

Business Blog
A business blog is a written set of entries by a business and published online with blogging software. These entries are generally displayed in reverse chronological order and feature industry-related information, photos and/or links. Business blogs may also allow comments for added interaction with the reader.

Business Model
A retail business model is essentially how a retail business is planned, organized and operates in order to cover expenses and generate a profit. Our business model is how we make money.

Business Plan
A detailed document describing the past, present and future financial and operational objectives of a company.

Capital
Capital is money available to build and grow a retail business. These liquid assets represent the amount of ownership and risk in a business.

Cash Discount
A percentage reduction in price for payment within a specified period of time.

Cash Flow
The movement of money in and out of a business and the resulting availability of cash.

Category Killer
A large retail chain store that is dominant in its product category. This type of store generally offers an extensive selection of merchandise at prices so low smaller stores cannot compete.

Chain Store
One of a number of retail stores under the same ownership and dealing in the same merchandise.

Co-operative
What does co-op stand for? What is a co-operative as relating to retail business? Learn more about this and other retailing terms.

Comp Sales
What are comp sales? Comparable-store sales is a measurement of productivity in revenue used to compare sales of retail stores that have been open for a year or more. Historical sales data allows retailers to compare this year's sales in their store to the same period last year.

Competition
Competition in retail is the rivalry between sellers striving to obtain the same customer.

Contribution Margin
Contribution Margin is the difference between total sales revenue and total variable costs. The term is applied to a product line and is generally expressed as a percentage.

Cost of Goods Sold
The price paid for the product, plus any additional costs necessary to get the merchandise into inventory and ready for sale, including shipping and handling.

Coupon
A promotional tool in the form of a document that can be redeemed for a discount when purchasing goods or services. Coupons feature specific savings amount or other special offer to persuade consumers to purchase specific goods or services or to purchase from specific retailers.

CRM - Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business strategy designed to reduce costs and increase profitability by strengthening customer loyalty.

Cross-Sell
Cross-selling refers to a sales technique in which the salesperson recognizes what a customer is purchasing and will make suggestions or recommendations of other related merchandise the shopper may also be interested in purchasing.

Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year for online retailers. Retailers notice a spike in sales on this day as many consumers who were too busy to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend or did not find what they were looking for, headed to the web on Monday from work or home to find bargains.

Dead Stock
Does your retail store have dead stock? Learn more about this retailing term for used or unsold merchandise.

Digital Signage
Digital signage refers to a variety of technologies used to replace traditional retail signs. Instead of static print signs and billboards, digital signage is composed of electronic signs dispersing content and messages in the most targeted, interactive way.

Drop Shipping
Drop shipping is the process in which a retailer markets a product, collects payment from the customer and then orders the item from a supplier, to be shipped directly that customer. The retailer's profit is the difference between the amount collected and the amount spent. No inventory is held and the retailer is not involved in the shipping.

EIN - Employer Identification Number
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, and is used to identify a business entity. Most businesses need an EIN. You may apply for an EIN in various ways, including online.

Exit Interview
Written or verbal conversation with a departing employee that show why the employee is leaving and how the business is viewed by others.

Facing
The number of identical products (or same SKU) facing out toward the customer. Facings are used in planograms and when zoning a retail store.

Fair Trade
Fair trade is an organized movement developed to promote standards of environmentalism and fair wages, alleviate global poverty and ensure that companies negotiate with the growers, manufacturers and producers of products for a fair price. This social-responsibility movement focuses on exports from developing countries.

First In, First Out
A method of stock rotation in which goods that are received first are sold first. Newly received product is stocked behind the older merchandise.

FOB
Shipping term used to indicate who is responsible for paying transportation charges.

Gross Margin Return On Investment
A measure of inventory productivity that expresses the relationship between your total sales, the gross profit margin you earn on those sales, and the number of dollars you invest in inventory.

Gross Margin
Gross margin is the difference between what an item cost and for what it sells.

Inventory Turnover
The number of times during a given period that the average inventory on hand is sold and replaced.

Inventory
Inventory is the merchandise a retail store has on-hand. The term also refers to the act of counting, itemizing and recording in-stock merchandise or supplies.

Journal
A journal is the electronic or paper documentation of all transactions that have been recorded on a cash register.

Keystone
Keystone pricing is a method of marking merchandise for resell to an amount that is double the wholesale price.

Kiosk
The term kiosk, as related to retailing, refers to a small stand-alone structure used as a point of purchase. This can be either a computer or display screen used to disseminate information to customers or may be a free-standing, full-service retail location. Kiosk are often found in malls and other high-traffic locations.

Layaway
Layaway is the act of taking a deposit to store merchandise for a customer to purchase at a later date.

Loss Leader
Merchandise sold below cost by a retailer in an effort to attract new customers or stimulate other profitable sales.

Loss Prevention
Loss prevention is the act of reducing the amount of theft and shrinkage within a business.

Margin
The amount of gross profit made when an item is sold.

Markdown
Planned reduction in the selling price of an item, usually to take effect either within a certain number of days after seasonal merchandise is received or at a specific date.

Marketing Calendar
A marketing calendar is a tool used by retailers to show what marketing events, media campaigns and merchandising efforts are happening when and where, as well as the results.

Markup
A percentange added to the cost to get the retail selling price.

Merchandise Mix
A merchandise mix is the breadth and depth of the products carried by retailers. Also known as product assortment.

Minimum Advertised Price
A suppliers pricing policy that does not permit its resellers to advertise prices below some specified amount. It can include the resellers retail price as well.

Mystery Shopping
What is a mystery shopping program? Learn about this retailing term to effectively improve business.

Odd-Even Pricing
A form of psychological pricing that suggests buyers are more sensitive to certain ending digits.

Open-to-Buy
Merchandise budgeted for purchase during a certain time period that has not yet been ordered.

Operating Expenses
The sum of all expenses associated with the normal course of running a business.

Planogram
Visual description, diagram or drawing of a store's layout to include placement of particular products and product categories.

Point-of-Purchase Display
Point-of-purchase displays, or POP displays, are marketing materials or advertising placed next to the merchandise it is promoting. These items are generally located at the checkout area or other location where the purchase decision is made. For example, The checkout counters of many convenience stores are cluttered with cigarette and candy POP displays.

POS
Point of Sale (POS) refers to the area of a store where customers can pay for their purchases. The term is normally used to describe systems that record financial transactions. This could be an electric cash register or an integrated computer system which records the data that comprises a business transaction for the sale of goods or services.

Private Label
Products which are generally manufactured or provided by one company under another company's brand.

Product Breadth
The product breadth is the variety of product lines offered by a retailer.

Product Depth
Product depth is the number of each item or particular style of a product on the shelves. Product depth is also known as product assortment or merchandise depth.

Product Life Cycle
The stages that a new product is belived to go through from the beginning to the end: Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline.

Profit Margin
A ratio of profitability calculated as earnings divided by revenues. It measures how much out of every dollar of sales a retail business actually keeps in earnings.

Purchase Order
A purchase order (PO)is a written sales contract between buyer and seller detailing the exact merchandise or services to be rendered from a single vendor.

Quantity Discount
A reduction in price based on the amount purchased. May be offered in addition to any trade discount.

Retailer
What is the definition of a retailer? One who sells goods or commodities directly to consumers. These items are generally sold in small quantities, at a marked up price from the manufacturer or wholesaler.

Retailing
The sale of goods or commodities in small quantities directly to consumers.

RFID
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) refers to the technology that uses radio waves to transmit a product's unique number from a tag to a reader.

Run of Paper
Run of paper is an advertising term by newspapers referring to an advertisement that may be placed anywhere within the paper.

Sales Floor
The sales floor is the location of a retail store where goods are displayed and sales transactions take place. For example, the receiving of merchandise takes place in the stock room, but all direct sales and customer interactions are done on the sales floor.

Sell-Through Rate
Sell-through Rate is a calculation, commonly represented as a percentage, comparing the amount of inventory a retailer receives from a manufacturer or supplier against what is actually sold to the consumer.

Shoplifting
What is shoplifting? Shoplifting is the theft of property which is worth less than $500 and which occurs with the intent to deprive the owner of that piece of property. The crime of shoplifting is the taking of merchandise offered for sale without paying.

Shrinkage
Retail shrinkage is a reduction or loss in inventory due to shoplifting, employee theft, paperwork errors and supplier fraud.

SKU
The Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) is a number assigned to a product by a retail store to identify the price, product options and manufacturer.

Sliding
A loss prevention term referring to the act of a cashier passing merchandise around the cash register barcode scanner without actually scanning the item.

Softlines
A store department or product line primarily consisting of merchandise such as clothing, footwear, jewelery, linens and towels.

Standard Industrial Classification Code (SIC Codes)
A coding system using four digits to identify specific industrial sectors within the Federal Government. The first two digits identify the broad industrial sector and the last two digits represent a facility's specialty within this broad sector.

Staple Goods
Staple goods are products purchased regularly and out of necessity. Traditionally, these items have fewer markdowns and lower profit margins. While price shifts may raise or lower demand for certain kinds of products, the demand for staple goods rarely changes when prices change.

Sustainability
Sustainability refers to the characteristic of certain products that provide environmental, social and economic benefit. Sustainable products are produced with minimal energy and packaging. They are considered eco-friendly as they cause no harm to the environment throughout their entire life cycle.

Trade Credit
An open account with suppliers of goods and services.

Trade Discount
A discount on the list price given by a manufacturer or wholesaler to a retailer.

Triple Net Lease - NNN or Net-Net-Net
A triple net lease is a rental agreement on a commercial property where the tenant agrees to pay all real estate taxes, building insurance, and maintenance on the property.

Visual Merchandising
Visual merchandising is the art of implementing effective design ideas to increase store traffic and sales volume.

Wholesale
Wholesale is the sale of goods, generally in large quantity, to a retailer for resale purposes.

Word-of-Mouth
Possibly the most effective form of marketing. It is the verbal recommendation and positive approval by a satisfied customer.

Working Capital
Liquid assets available to build and grow a retail business. It is measured by current assets minus current liabilities. A positive working capital is needed until the shop can produce a profit.

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