RET500 - Understanding the Retail Business

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-07-04 15:17:31.82
Last review date 2018-07-16 00:15:00.527

Subject Title
Understanding the Retail Business

Subject Description
This subject is designed to give 4th semester students a broad understanding of current Canadian retail business trends. The operational aspects as well as the nature of various retail formats will be examined and discussed including buying, selling, customer service, advertising, store layout and design, technology and results measurement and evaluation.

Credit Status
One credit.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

1. Differentiate between the various retail formats and how current market trends, social influences and customer attitudes give rise to retail structures such as:
- department stores
- discounters
- factory outlets
- fashion chains
- big box/warehouse operations

Team written/oral projects will be completed to illustrate the differences between two existing retailers in directly competitive formats in areas such as:
- merchandise
- physical facility
- advertising
- customer service
- pricing and profit structure
- organization
- presentation
- sales promotion
- logistics

2. Explain the effect of external influences that cause industry reorganization and change such as:
- governmental
- demographic
- technological
- economic

3. Explain the many influences that trigger buying decisions such as:
- cultural
- social
- lifestyle
- age
- income
- family life

4. Describe the research tools available to the retailer and how this information can assist in developing a retail strategy.

5. Interpret the effect that key physical elements have on store profit and sales such as:
- layout
- design
- presentation

6. Explain the process of merchandise assortment planning, buying, and pricing as it applies to various retail formats.

7. Explain selling techniques and other sales supporting needs the customer responds to in developing a totally "customer focused" store environment.

8. Demonstrate the ability to apply research, the concepts of strategic planning, and integrate the learning outcomes above by participation in the completion of a written/oral team project that develops a viable retail concept. The project will include but not be limited to:
- market/competitive research
- strategic plan
- store type and image
- physical attributes
- merchandise plan
- marketing plan
- advertising and promotional plan
- customer service requirements

9. Demonstrate from a practical business standpoint, how retail managers are able to improve the results of these financial variables:

- Marketing
- Reductions
- Gross Margin
- Turnover
- Shrinkage
- Sales Growth

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.


Topic Outline

  •   Introduction to the work of retailing.
  •   Types of retailers. 
  •   E-tailing issues - Connecting to the customer.
  •   Retail consumer buying behaviour.
  •   Retail market strategy.
  •   Choosing store locations.
  •   Store layout, design and visual merchandising.
  •   International Retailing 

Mode of Instruction
This subject is delivered online. This may involve the use of digital materials and/or a text, group discussions, interaction with your instructor and online activities. 

Prescribed Texts
Title:           Retailing Management 
Edition:       5th CDN
Author:       Levy, Weitz, Watson
Publisher:    McGraw  
ISBN(13):   9781259269202

(updated text edition for Fall 2017)

Reference Material

Required Supplies

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation
Assignments are due on the dates specified. Should extenuating circumstances arise, please contact your instructor prior to the assignment due date so that an appropriate course of action can be established. Late assignments may be subject to a penalty of up to 10% per week and will not generally be accepted beyond two weeks from the due date.

In cases of cheating or plagiarism, the College Academic Policy will prevail. Please ensure that all assignments and reports are properly documented.

Students are referred to the following website for Seneca College Library style guides, Academic Honesty Policy and Copyright guidelines:  http:/

Dates for evaluations are specified in the weekly schedule addendum to this outline. The evaluation process may include, but is not limited to, tests, exams, assignments or presentations. Any absences or missed submissions due to medical or other reasons must be supported by medical or other appropriate documentation within one (1) week of the due date. The faculty and program area must be notified immediately in the event of a missed evaluation. Upon acceptance of the documentation, the weighting of the missed deliverable will normally be applied to the final exam.

English Competency
The ability to communicate effectively is essential for success in business. Therefore, you must demonstrate English competency in this course in both oral and written work. Ensure your written work includes correct sentence structure, spelling and punctuation. Always spell check, edit and proofread your work.

Grading is based on the following marking scheme:

Assignments 25%
Quizzes 40%
Final Exam - In Person-Online Format * 35%

* Final Exams: The final exam for online courses must be written at the Test Centre of the College at which you registered. If you are unable to do so, please make alternative arrangements through the College at which you registered. All the academic policies of the College at which you registered apply. This includes, but is not limited to policies related to grading, supplemental exams, deferred exams and accommodations. 

Please retain this course outline document for future educational and/or employment use.

Academic Program Manager:

Emiliano Introcaso

Approved by: Academic Program Manager Emiliano Introcaso