The retail industry has been facing some tough quarters as a result of the recent recessionary period, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still opportunity for minority firms. The most recent data (2009) from the U.S. Census Bureau puts the size of the U.S. retail sector at $4.13 trillion, and nine of the top 20 retail firms worldwide are U.S.-based. Retail is a market hungry for both products and services, offering minority and women-owned (MWBE) businesses many contract niches to explore.
Major Trends & Issues
When it comes to retailing, minority firms looking to compete have to be aware of both trending items and costs. More than most other industries, retailers compete on costs and make their profits at the margins. Minority firms have to be ready to come to the table with solutions that deliver quality at a profitable price point.
Staying abreast of key trends is also important for minority retailers, particularly those targeting apparel or gift segments of the market. Consumer desires shift quickly and accurate forecasting for leading seasonal items is critical. MWBEs have to be just as ready as their client partners to shift through the data for nuggets of insight.
On a brighter note, the retail industry is more receptive than other market segments to diverse suppliers, thanks to the very nature of the business. Sources for high quality merchandise are welcomed from any corner, and retailers have an established precedent of scouring the globe for exactly what their customers want, regardless of who makes it. Many retailers also have employee diversity policies to match their customer bases, and extend the same inclusion programming to their supply chain. In fact, thanks to consumer demand for fair-trade, ethical, and charitably-tied products, all retail sectors are looking for products and services with a story to go with the solution, giving minority firms more open and receptive ears when going to market.