Re-Inventing Retail

From the Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute.
Tips | Tactics | Insights on the Business of Retailing.

A Retailer? Or a Merchant? Bookmark

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Anybody can be a retailer, and almost everybody is at one time or another. 

Maybe you put on a garage sale. Or sell on eBay or Amazon or Etsy. Or at a farmer's market. Or your own stores. 

Wherever you are selling to the ultimate consumer, by definition, you are a retailer;

But, just as in education, or in sports, there exists a higher, ultimate level of professionalism. In retailing, this is to be a "Merchant".

How Do We Define a "Merchant"?

These are the attributes that separate Merchants from "just retailers":

Merchants source for a particular group of customers. They are agents for the customers, not agents for - or beholden to - any vendor.

Merchants closely monitor any changes in their customer group.

Merchants judge every piece of inventory they own on whether it (still) appeals to their customer group.

Merchants dispassionately add or delete products, services, locations, personnel as needed to best serve "their" customers.

Merchants are zealous about the key metrics of inventory control: turnover; gross margin percent;  GMROI; markdowns percent; and the like.


Think of retailers around you. Clearly, some are or have been led by Merchants: Starbucks, Costco, Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, etc.

Now, think of recent or pending retail failures. Their leadership is more likely characterized by "just retailers."

Whether large or small, the distinction between success in retail or failure is traceable to the Merchant instincts of the top people.

And, in our view, only those retailers who are now or become Merchants will actually thrive, or even survive!

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About The Co-Founders

Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt, The Co-Founders of The Retail Owners Institute®, have been called "The Zen masters of retail finance!"

Since 1999, they have been assembling  their proprietary content into a unique self-help website. The Retail Owners Institute is an unmatched resource that assists retailers worldwide with basic financial training, assistance and easy-to-use tools.

Their engaging and empowering how-to resources about the financial levers in retailing are informative, fun(!), and retailer-friendly. Their promise: "Everyone will 'get it'!"

Pat and Dick are recognized experts in strategic retailing. Working only as a team – Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists, LLC – they have been consulting, publishing, and speaking professionally throughout North America since 1990.

They focus exclusively on retail, or wherever retail is involved. They work with CEOs, CFOs, boards and owners of retail operations, as well as manufacturers or wholesalers expanding into retail. And they also are Retail Turnaround Experts.

Since 1999, empowering retailers and store owners to "Turn on your financial headlights!"