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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.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.

1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
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Entry requirements
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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:

  • 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 us 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

An introduction to retail management and marketing starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018 when we expect it to start for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic 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

    Entry requirements

    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 speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Mar 2019 £1464.00

    Registration closes 13/09/18 (places subject to availability)

    October 2018 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    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 your module has started.

    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.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

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

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. 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 module 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 module.  

    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 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 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 20/07/2018.

    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

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying B122 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Overcoming barriers to study if you have a disability or health condition website.