Retail is the process of selling consumer goods11 or services11 to customers through multiple channels of distribution11 to earn a profit. Retailers satisfy demand identified through a supply chain11. 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 wholesale12, corporate12 or government clientele. Shopping12 generally refers to the act of buying12 products. Sometimes this is done to obtain final goods12, including necessities such as food and clothing; sometimes it takes place as a recreational12 activity. Recreational shopping often involves window shopping12 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 peddlers12. 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 level12 decisions including the type of store12, the market12 to be served, the optimal product12 assortment, customer service12, 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 age12, an increasing number of retailers are seeking to reach broader markets by selling through multiple channels, including both bricks and mortar12 and online retailing12. Digital technologies are also changing the way that consumers12 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.