What is a Retailer?

Definition: A retailer is a business organization that sells goods to consumers. Many manufacturers do not deal directly with their end customers. They require the help of retailers to fulfill this function.

What does Retailer mean?

Retailers play a very important role in the U.S. economy. According to the website of the International Trade Administration, which is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce, there are almost 3.8 million retail establishments in the country. Together, they account for about $2.6 trillion in sales and employ 29 million people.

Here’s a brief outline of the functions that retailers perform:

⇨ They help manufacturers to sell their products – manufacturers specialize in making goods. The skills that are required for selling them are quite different. Retailers play this role by acting as the link between the producer and the consumer.

⇨ They stock various products – when consumers shop, they would like to choose from a range of different options. Retailers perform this role by stocking goods manufactured by different companies.

⇨ They provide feedback to manufacturers – which are the features of a product that attract customers? What improvements are required? What is the expected demand for a particular product in the next quarter and in the next year? Retailers help manufacturers answer these questions by providing a channel of communication with customers.

Example of Retailer

A retailer could be a small mom and pop store that caters only to customers in the immediate neighborhood. At the other end of the spectrum, Walmart is a retail giant that sold goods worth $481 billion in 2017.

These are some of the different types of retailers:

⇨ Department stores – these retailers stock a wide variety of goods manufactured by different companies. Walmart and Costco are examples of department stores.

⇨ Online retailers – Amazon has made massive inroads as a retailer in recent years. Its low-cost model offers convenience as well as a wide range of products. Traditional brick and mortar retailers are finding it hard to compete with the e-commerce juggernaut.

⇨ Big Box stores – these stores, designed to look like a box, are massive and could have 50,000 square feet or more of shopping area. Walmart, Home Depot, and Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant, are examples of big box stores.


Retailers are crucial for connecting producers and consumers. They also play an important part in conveying the feedback received from customers to the companies that make the goods that they sell.