The Future of U.S. Retailing: An Agenda for the 21st Century

The Future of U.S. Retailing: An Agenda for the 21st Century

The Future of U.S. Retailing: An Agenda for the 21st Century

The Future of U.S. Retailing: An Agenda for the 21st Century


This book contains the output of a symposium that addressed the future of retailing. Background materials and commentaries are provided by distinguished academics and outstanding business practitioners. Topics covered include traditional retailing, the impact of technology and changing consumption patterns on retailing, and trends in direct marketing, direct selling, and multi-channel distribution networks. The book culminates in an agenda of propositions and issues that need to be considered by anyone seeking to successfully market to consumers in this decade.


The Future of U.S. Retailing resulted from a unique symposium held on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin in November 1990. Ime uniqueness of the symposium was exhibited in four distinct ways: mission, participant composition, approach, and sponsorship.

Ostensibly, the mission of the symposium and this book was to develop a series of informed speculations about the nature and structure of retailing in the year 2000. What types of retailers will exist in the next century? How many retailers will there be? What will be the relationship between retailing and society? in particular, how will society influence the nature and structure of retailing, and how will retailing influence the nature and structure of society (a concept perhaps alien to some but not really farfetched)?

More subtly, however, the purpose of the symposium and book was to provide an agenda for retailing leadership not only into the next millennium, but in the present decade as well. Leadership can only be achieved by possessing and successfully executing a vision. But a vision, by definition, is a normative view of the future--how things "should be" at some point in time, whether near or distant--and such a vision can be achieved only by peering into the future, constructing alternative scenarios of the future, considering present options, and carrying out those requisite activities that will ensure that the vision will "come true." This book provides a framework or foundation for simultaneously developing scenarios of the future and present-day options for retailing leadership.

The recipe underlying the symposium was simple. Identify individuals who collectively could circumscribe present retailing knowledge, yet provide insights into retailing in the future. Provide a conducive environment and format for these individuals to efficiently transfer and communicate their knowledge of retailing. Coalesce these individuals for . . .

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