You are viewing information for England.  Change country.

An introduction to retail management and marketing

The retail industry is highly dynamic and innovative, which means it is very engaging to study . This module looks at how retailing has developed, how retail outlets operate and how retailers apply retail marketing techniques. During your studies you will consider contemporary factors that affect retailing: globalisation; the impact of ever-changing technology; and social and ethical issues. This module is designed for retail industry employees wishing to develop a career in management, and anyone interested in working in the retail sector, or simply wanting to know more about the world of retailing.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects


Module code
Study level
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

Enjoyed this course alongside B120 and found both the materials complemented the extension of learning. I would say that the...
Read more

I selected this module as I work in a retail environment but this module was really good. A lot of...
Read more

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

The module content has been developed through discussions with a range of retail employers. As a result it has practical relevance and is responsive to the employment needs of retailers and the skills and characteristics required for developing a knowledgeable, ambitious and motivated workforce.

It presents the principles of retail management and marketing, for students aiming for a higher qualification in retail management and for anyone wishing to develop their knowledge of retailing and the retail industry.

You will receive a number of core texts, each including a mix of discussion, readings and activities. These texts will be supported by a website and multimedia learning materials such as audio podcasts, video materials and web-based activities all presented online. Each book plus the associated online session makes up a single block as follows:

Block 1: What is retailing? This block establishes the historical and business context of retailing and sets out the competitive retail landscape. It considers the range and scope of types of retail formats and operations; and identifies the key issues affecting the development of retail brands. This block also examines retail law, including consumer protection, product liability, displaying prices, consumer credit and employee-related legislation. Finally, it introduces the remaining blocks and considers the linkages between them.

Block 2: Managing Retail Stores. This block explores the key elements of day-to-day store operations and focuses on issues associated with managing people and process. Key topics include: managing a retail store; store design; visual merchandising and stock management; retail store information systems; and managing and developing people in retail organisations.

Block 3: Retail marketing management. This block explores retailing from a marketing perspective. It examines how each of the elements of the marketing mix applies in a retail context: product; price; place; promotion and branding; and service delivery.

Block 4: Retail planning and supply. This block builds on associated issues raised in blocks 1, 2 and 3. Key topics covered are: retail location; retail logistics and demand-driven supply; alternative distribution channels; delivering customer value; and managing supply relationships, including the use of information systems.

Block 5: Contemporary issues in retailing. This block refers to issues raised in the other blocks and examines the major forces currently influencing and shaping retailing. It considers in some detail the influences of retail expansion, internationalisation, the changing retail environment, and the impact of technology including online retailing. Please note that this block does not have a printed book and is delivered online only.

In summary, each block examines issues, topics and theories that will enable you to build a solid understanding of the foundations of retail management and retail marketing. The identified themes focus on areas posing major challenges to retailers. Completing this module will give you a good grounding in retail business, enabling you to progress to further levels of retail and business studies.

You will learn

The academic purpose of this module is to introduce you to the main functions and management of a retail business and the key issues associated with understanding retail trading and retail environments. After studying the module, you should be able to:

  • explain relevant theories and concepts of retailing
  • describe the key elements of a retail business and the retail trading environment
  • discuss issues associated with operating a business in a retail environment/context
  • outline the key module topics and explain why each topic is important to understanding the principles of retail management
  • explain linkages between components of the module
  • organise your studies, including paper-based and computer-based services
  • continue to develop your awareness of how you learn and how different elements of the module applied to your individual learning style.

Vocational relevance

We recognise that there are many capable people working in retail with excellent shop floor skills, commitment, energy and experience but who lack the necessary academic qualifications to further their careers and to move into management both within and outside the retail industry. This module is for everyone from shop assistants to senior managers working in retail outlets of all types and sizes including the charity sector.

Outside the UK

This module is relevant to retailing both inside and outside the UK.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. If you are new to The Open University, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day-schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where tutorials are held depends on the distribution of students taking each module.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in April 2015. We expect it to be available twice a year.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school


This module is for anyone with an interest in retailing. No work or management experience, or previous educational qualifications are assumed. You will be expected to carry out some tasks online and to participate in online discussions.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Mar 2016 £1350.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

02 Apr 2016 Sep 2016 £1350.00

Registration closes 10/03/16 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2018.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time that is convenient to you.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 28/07/2015.

What's included

The printed books are complemented by online materials and activities. There is a printed study guide (Getting Started) and a website that hosts multimedia learning items including audio and visual material and activities.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

Transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

Part of this module is delivered through a website and includes the use of multimedia materials and online activities.  If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet and have concerns about accessing this type of material you are advised to talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service about support which can be given to meet your needs.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.