The objective of this graded project is to apply what you’ve

learned throughout the subject. You’ll select a retailer from

the list provided and research, examine, and report your

findings in the following three areas:

1. Strategic Analysis

2. Store Layout, Design, and Visual Merchandising

3. Internet Retailing

You will be asked to consider what you’ve studied and apply

it to a specific retailer by answering the questions for each

section. Your answers to these questions will be put together

to constitute your project for this course.

Be sure to answer each of the questions as completely as

possible, using the information in your textbook, information

from your research, and any other information you’ve learned

to support your positions.


To satisfy the requirements for this project, you must prepare

the research project demonstrating your knowledge of the subject

matter. There’s no minimum or maximum number of pages

required for the project. The number of pages will depend

on the retailer selected and the information obtained from

your research. Answers to the provided questions should

be well thought out, written coherently, and answered in

essay/paragraph format using the following guidelines. Use

MLA format for the paper. Any references should be cited. A

minimum of three citations is required. Although this is a

research project, attention to English and the writing of

research papers should be paid attention to and will be

graded accordingly.



92Graded Project

The research paper will contain the following sections:

1. Title Page

2. Strategic Analysis

3. Store Layout, Design, and Visual Merchandising

4. Internet Retailing

5. Works Cited

Each section should begin on a new page and should be

labeled at the beginning (for example, Strategic Analysis).

The question(s) should be typed, followed by the answer(s)

in .6″ href=”” in_rurl=”” 91c4=”1″>×10.png” width=10 height=10>/paragraph format.

For this graded project, select a retailer that you’re interested

in from the following list:

Abercrombie & Fitch

American Eagle Outfitter

Ann Taylor


Bed Bath & Beyond

Best Buy

.6″ href=”” in_rurl=”” 91c4=”1″>Burlington×10.png” width=10 height=10> Factory




Dollar General

Dress Barn

Family Dollar

Finish Line

Foot Locker

.6″ href=”” in_rurl=”” 91c4=”1″>Home×10.png” width=10 height=10>

Hot Topics





Men’s Warehouse


.6″ href=”” in_rurl=”” 91c4=”1″>Office×10.png” width=10 height=10>

Pacific Sunwear

Pep Boys


Pier 1 Imports

Radio Shack

.6″ href=”” in_rurl=”” 91c4=”1″>Ross×10.png” width=10 height=10>






Wet Seal

.6″ href=”” in_rurl=”” 91c4=”1″>Whole Foods×10.png” width=10 height=10>


Graded Project93

Prepare a paper and presentation using MLA format about

your retailer using the guidelines that follow. Your graded

project will be due after the completion of the lesson exams

for Retail Management.


To ensure that you can get information about these retailers,

all of the listed retailers are publicly held companies, meaning

that you can access financial statements and annual

reports. Many reports can be found at the SEC’s website

(,and annual reports can be found

online at the company’s website or by calling the company

and requesting a report be sent to you as a potential investor.

You’ll find the information you need to complete the assignment

using databases and resources, such as Yahoo Finance,

MSN Money, Market Watch, Etrade, and ScottTrade; any

provider of financial and industry news information, including

theWall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Money

Magazine, MSNBC,or any other purveyor of news; magazine

articles; television; and Internet information. The assignment

will help you become familiar with the databases, industry,

market, and company reports, as well as other electronic

library resources. In preparing your report, be sure to cite

and reference the original sources that your information was

drawn from (not the database where you found the source).

Please don’t summarize information without giving credit to

the source from which it was drawn. (In researching and

preparing your paper, a minimum of three sources of information

are required for the project.)

1. Describe the current climate and situation that your

retailer finds itself in as it attempts to compete. Describe

what’s occurring in the industry. Provide a brief overview

of the retail sector in which the retailer operates. What

economic factors and environmental factors (if any) are

affecting the retailer? Describe competitive pressures,

changing demographics and buying preferences, consumer

behavior issues, image issues, and so on that affect this

retailer and how they conduct business. How has the

industry changed because of e-commerce and technology?

94Graded Project

2. How has your retailer changed and evolved over time?

What is your retailer’s primary business? What is their

business model (how do they choose to operate)? What

is their corporate strategy? What are their goals? What

parts of their business are growing and generate the

most revenue? How is your retailer seeking to increase

revenue in the future?

3. Complete a corporate analysis by answering these questions:

Has the retailer been profitable during its last fiscal year?

What are its projections for the future? Is the retailer

expanding or contracting its operations? How does this

retailer compare financially to other retailers in its industry?

4. Do a financial analysis of your retailer and two to five of

its top competitors. Include revenue growth, ROA, Gross

Margin, Net Margin, GMROI, Inventory Turnover, and so

on. What does this analysis say about how your retailer

operates and its profitability? What can your retailer do

to improve its profitability?

5. Analyze the competition by answering these questions:

nWho are the retailer’s competitors (both direct and

indirect)? How does your retailer compare to these

competitors in terms of its size, market dominance/

share, sales, profitability, and so on?

nWhat is your retailer’s competitive strength? How do

they try to compete? Are there strategies that haven’t

worked for them?

nWhat retailers have they identified as competitive

threats? Why?

6. Determine the retail market strategy:

nWho is their target audience? (Describe the audience

demographically and psychographically, if possible.)

How does this compare to the competition?

nWhat image do they want to convey? How do they

attempt to position themselves in the minds of consumers

in the market? What is their current image

in the industry and in the minds of consumers? Is

this image working for them? How does this compare

with the image of competitors?

Graded Project95

nHow do they make use of technology (web and

e-commerce, supply chain management, information

systems, and so on)? How has technology affected

the way they conduct business?

nWhat is their global presence and strategy? What

countries have they entered? How successful have

they been expanding into these countries? What

obstacles have they faced?

nWhat is their location strategy? Why have they

chosen this strategy?

nWhat is their approach to managing human

resources (if this information is available)?

nDescribe their merchandising strategy: how they buy,

what they buy, breadth versus depth of merchandise,

and so on. How is it reflected in their financial strategy?

nWhat is their pricing strategy, and how does this

affect their profitability?

nDescribe their approach to advertising and sales

promotions. Has it been effective for them?

nWhat challenges does your retailer face in terms of

the retail strategy variables just described? Do some

appear to be working better than others?

7. Summarize your retailer’s primary strengths and weaknesses

and support your assessment. What are the retailer’s

largest opportunities? What are their biggest challenges

now and in the future? How are they preparing to meet

those challenges? What do they view as their opportunities

for the future?

8. What do you think the future holds for this retailer?

If you were hired as the CEO, what specific strategies

would you pursue in the future for this retailer? What

opportunities would you capitalize on? Why?

96Graded Project



Go to the retailer and evaluate the store layout, design, and

visual merchandising techniques employed. Be sure to reference

the concepts you’ve learned in your chapters. (You may

want to let an employee or manager know that you’re taking

notes because you’re a student at Penn Foster doing research

for a graded project.)

Select a particular product. You’ll be using this product to

compare with your Internet shopping experience. Review the

next section on Internet Retailing to understand the information

that will need to be gathered complete the next section of

the research project.

Explain your answers to the following questions:

I. Appearance

A. Is the store layout, design, and visual merchandising

techniques used consistent with the exterior of the

store and the location? What does it say about the type

of store this is and the market it is trying to attract?

B. Is the store’s ambiance consistent with the merchandise

presented and your expectations as a customer?

C. Does the store need a face-lift, update, remodel, or

renovation? What improvements would you suggest?

II. Fixtures

A. Does the lighting highlight merchandise,

structure space, capture a mood, or downplay

unwanted features?

B. Are the fixtures consistent with the merchandise

and the overall ambiance of the store?

C. What type of image do the fixtures portray?

Graded Project97

III. Promotion

A. Evaluate the store’s signage. Does it effectively sell


B. Has the retailer used any theatrical effects to help

sell merchandise?

C. Does the store make creative use of wall space to

sell product?

D. Does the sales staff use suggestive selling?

E. Is the sales staff friendly and helpful?

F. Is the image of the staff consistent with the image of

the store?

IV. Layout

A. Does the store layout help draw people throughout

the store? Why or why not?

B. How does the layout facilitate purchases?

C. What type of layout is used? Would another type of

layout be better?

V. Merchandising

A. Has the retailer employed any techniques for

achieving greater space productivity such as

using the “cube,” downsizing gondolas and racks,

minimizing no-selling space, and so on?

B. Are there any displays that increase interest

in the products being offered? If not, would

you recommend any?

C. How has the retailer organized merchandise?

What improvements could be made?

VI. Summarize your suggestions on how this retailer can

improve the shopping experience for their customers,

increase sales, and improve their image.

98Graded Project


Go to the retailer’s website and shop for a product. (You do

not need to purchase any products or services.) Select the

product and place it in the shopping cart. Go through the

checkout procedure up to the point where you’re asked to

enter credit card or checkout information. Answer the following

questions in detail:

1. How do you compare your experience shopping on

the Internet to shopping in a local store for this type

of product?

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the

Internet shopping experience?

3. Describe the Internet shopping experience using the

following criteria:


nSuggestive selling

nWebsite features

nDesign of website

nEase of website use

nClosing of the sale

Graded Project99



1. Create a title page with the following information:

a. Title: Retail Management

b. Your name

c. Your student number

d. Graded project number: 08001400

e. Current date

2. Prepare your questions and answers to the three sections

in a word-processing program. Each section should begin

on a new page. Each answer for that section should be

labeled by its number/designation and question and

should be answered in an .6″ href=”” in_rurl=”” 91c4=”1″>×10.png” width=10 height=10>/paragraph format.

3. Double-space your answers, with left and right margins

of 1 to 1.25 inches, flush left and ragged right. Use a

plain 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.

4. Incorporate and properly reference any sources of

information you’ve used to develop your answers.

To cite your sources, please follow this procedure:

a. Use in-text citations to indicate references to information

from outside sources. Include the author’s

name and the relevant page number(s) in parentheses.

Here’s an example: Human beings have been described

as “symbol-using animals” (Burke 3).

b. At the end of your paper, include a Works Cited

page, listing all of the sources you’ve consulted.

Use MLA format for this page.

5. Read over your work carefully. Make sure it’s professional

with correct formatting, grammar, spelling and citations,

along with adequate support for any arguments you make.

6. Submit the final draft of your work, along with the title

page, only after you’ve completed writing your questions

and answers to each section.

100Graded Project


Your project will be graded on the following criteria:

Strategic Analysis40%

Store Layout, Design,

and Visual Merchandising30%

Internet Retailing15%

Written Communication and Format15%

Here’s a brief explanation of each of these criteria.

Strategic Analysis

Each “numbered” section (set of topics/questions) is

worth 5 points each.

Store Layout, Design, and Visual Merchandising

Each “numbered” section (set of topics/questions) is

worth 5 points each.

Internet Retailing

Each “numbered” section (set of topics/questions) is

worth 5 points each.

Written Communication and Format

This is worth 15 points in total. Student should

nProvide a title page

nUse correct grammar, spelling, punctuation,

and sentence structure

nProvide clear organization by using words and phrases like

first, however, on the other hand, and so on, consequently,

since, next,andwhen

nMake sure the answers contain no typographical errors

nProvide citations in the correct format

nFollow MLA guidelines

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