Retailing a Growth Industry: Exchanging Money for Goods or Services

Article excerpt


Walk around on any college campus and ask students what is it they would eventually like to do and, undoubtedly, many will say, "I want to own my own business." If you press them for details of the kind of business they would like to own, their answers will inevitably involve the selling of some goods or some service. If you ask these same students whether they have considered retailing as a career, their answer will often be a resounding "No!" Between their desire to own a business and their unwillingness to consider careers in retailing lies a contradiction that is probably a result of students' perception of retailing. Those who indicated they would like to own their own businesses really want to be retailers, people who accept money in exchange for their goods or services. Some of the largest companies in the United States have made tremendous profits conducting this exchange effectively. Think of Wal-Mart, Sears, JC Penney, Macy's Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Parisian, Dillards, Burdines, Rich's, Lazarus, Target, KMart.... Now think again: Lowe's, Home Depot, AutoZone, Circuit City, CarMax, Amoco, BP Oil.... Think again: Kroger, Albertson's, Publix, Winn-Dixie.... Think again: The Gap, The Limited, Victoria's Secret, T J Maxx. ... Think again: Chili's Restaurants, The Olive Garden, The Red Lobster.... The Sharper Image, LL Bean, Barnes and Noble ... and the list goes on and on. All of these companies represent highly successful retailers who sell goods or services nationwide. They are profitable, they are growing and they need skilled managers and other professionals to maintain their profits and to sustain their growth. These firms are willing to pay competitive salaries for these services, and they are looking on college campuses for the kinds of talents they need.

Growth in Retailing

Retailing has exploded on university campuses across the nation as one of the "hot" professional tracks to pursue, and these programs are attracting some of the brightest young minds on university campuses. There are many reasons why, one of them being that retailing is not tied to location and the jobs available exist throughout the United States. This in itself provides a measure of security many other jobs cannot offer. But there are other reasons. Jeffrey Wells, senior vice president for Human Resources at Circuit City says," Consider what retailing offers people: opportunities to assume direct responsibilities soon after training, opportunities to manage people, clear paths for quick advancement, and work in an industry where you see the results you produce very quickly. Many people want general management responsibilities, and they want to make a difference on the profit and loss statements...retailing offers that like no other area..."

The growth in demand for college-trained people to enter retailing has been fueled, in part, by the tremendous growth in retailing. The growth in retailing has been phenomenal over the last twenty years, creating more jobs than any other sector has. Wal-Mart is now the nation's largest employer and will be a $200 billion company by the end of the century, according to Wayne Easterling, manager of Wal-Mart's Minority and Women-Owned Businesses Development Section. "The biggest obstacle to our growth is the ability to find the kind of managers that our business now demands," he says. Bob Wery, director of College Relations at Sears, echoes this sentiment. "We need managers who can make quick, correct decisions, who are sensitive to our customers, and who are technologically sophisticated. That's why we must look to college campuses. Our growth depends on it. We are creating several new formats within Sears, from some new initiatives in hardware to stand alone Home Life stores...we can't do it without the people to run these businesses." Paul Wehner, manager of Staffing Sales and Marketing for Amoco states the case more succinctly: "Retailing has become a highly complex business; we need people who are sensitive to marketing issues and customer service issues, who are aware of what our competitors are doing, and who have a clear vision of what it takes to be successful. …