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29 Types of Retail

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Retail is the direct sale of goods and services to customers. This is a competitive industry based on capabilities such as branding, customer experience, promotion, distribution, logistics, ecommerce, pricing and retail design. The following are common types of retail.

Department Stores

Large stores divided by category known as departments that may include everything from luxury fashions to gourmet food. Despite their size, it's not unusual for department stores to be focused on a particular demographic such as young women. Department stores may put significant effort into promotion with regular events such as fashion shows and celebrity appearances.


A flagship is a lead store in a prime location designed to show off the best of a brand.

Discount Store

Discount stores may rival department stores in size and are also typically divided by category. As the name suggests, discount stores are focused on price leadership.

Big-box Store

A general term for large format stores in basic buildings that resemble concrete boxes. They are usually located in suburban locations.


A term for very large discount shops that may include a wide range of goods and a supermarket.

Dark Store

A distribution center that is closed to the public. Resembles a large retail shop and is used to fulfill ecommerce orders. Dark stores may be run by employees who walk around the store filling orders. Alternatively, they may be mostly automated. In the case of full automation, the store can be run with the lights off for a shift.

Warehouse Store

A basic type of store that resembles a warehouse with goods that may be packaged in bulk. Warehouse shops may offer a somewhat random selection of products as compared with the organized selection offered by a supermarket or department store.

Warehouse Club

A warehouse store that charges a membership fee.

Consumers Cooperative

An organization run by consumers. Typically designed to pool purchasing power to negotiate better deals with suppliers. Some consumer cooperatives are essentially retail shops that aim to lower prices for members.

Dollar Store

A discount shop that offers a wide range of inexpensive items for a particular price such as $1 or 100 yen.

Variety Store

A small format discount shop.


Family run retailers that often have a single location.

Convenience Stores

Shops that offer a wide range of practical items in convenient locations and hours such as 7/24.

Specialty Store

A store that sells a particular type of good such as toys.

Category Killer

A store that aims to be a price leader for a particular type of goods such as electronics or sports equipment.


A location that offers many independent shops often with large anchor tenants such as department stores or discount stores.


A food retailer that aims to be a one-stop shop for groceries and other fast moving consumer goods.

Store In A Store

Retailers who offer space to other retailers within their premises such as a bookstore with a coffee shop.

Retail Kiosk

A small format shop often offered as a store-in-a-store or in a convenient location such as a busy street.

Vending Machine

Automated self-service retail kiosks.

Automated Retail

Another term for vending machine. Implies an advanced model capable of selling high priced items beyond the beverages and candy sold by traditional vending machines.

Pop-up Retail

Short term shops that sell seasonal items, trendy products or that take advantage of an event such as a festival. Often run by retail entrepreneurs as they have light upfront capital requirements. For example, restaurants based out of vehicles offer flexibility and require less investment than a fixed restaurant location.

General Store

A retailer that seeks to meet the needs of a rural community with a variety of practical items.


A small shop that isn't a discounter. For example, a fashion brand or collection of fashions that appeal to a particular demographic.

Ecommerce Retail

A retailer that sells by digital channels such as a website.

Bricks and Clicks

A retailer that sells both online and with locations. Locations may be leveraged for delivery, pickup and customer service.


A retailer that focuses on a particular hobby, interest, demographic or subculture to offer difficult to find items, expertise and experiences.


A shop that offers items commissioned by the customer such as a tailored suit.

Haute Couture

Literally "high dressmaking". A term for high end fashions that may be designed for the customer.
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