Retail is the process of selling consumer goods8 or services8 to customers through multiple channels of distribution8 to earn a profit. Retailers satisfy demand identified through a supply chain8. The term "retailer" is typically applied where a service provider fills the small orders of many individuals, who are end-users, rather than large orders of a small number of wholesale8, corporate8 or government clientele. Shopping8 generally refers to the act of buying8 products. Sometimes this is done to obtain final goods8, including necessities such as food and clothing; sometimes it takes place as a recreational8 activity. Recreational shopping often involves window shopping8 and browsing: it does not always result in a purchase.
Retail markets and shops have a very ancient history, dating back to antiquity. Some of the earliest retailers were itinerant peddlers8. Over the centuries, retail shops were transformed from little more than "rude booths" to the sophisticated shopping malls of the modern era.
Most modern retailers typically make a variety of strategic level8 decisions including the type of store8, the market8 to be served, the optimal product8 assortment, customer service8, supporting services and the store's overall market positioning. Once the strategic retail plan is in place, retailers devise the retail mix which includes product, price, place, promotion, personnel, and presentation. In the digital age8, an increasing number of retailers are seeking to reach broader markets by selling through multiple channels, including both bricks and mortar8 and online retailing8. Digital technologies are also changing the way that consumers8 pay for goods and services. Retailing support services may also include the provision of credit, delivery services, advisory services, stylist services and a range of other supporting services.