module specification

MC7071 - Retail Design, Buying and Merchandising (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Retail Design, Buying and Merchandising
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 200
155 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Individual presentation 20 mins
Coursework 70%   Individual report 4,000 words
Running in 2020/21
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

The module addresses those elements of the commercial process that determine the nature of the transactional interface with the consumer.  It integrates academic models pertaining to the scope and function of the buying and merchandising processes that determine not only the availability of products but also the manner in which these are perceived. It also introduces the concept of retail design as an intrinsic part of marketing strategy in order that students acquire a sophisticated and theoretically informed understanding of how the various players in the retail environment interact in catering to consumers’ needs in addition to maximising profitability.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

The aims of this module are to:

• Develop a critical awareness of, and introduce a range of theoretical approaches to, issues extant in contemporary retail design, buying and merchandising.

• Propose insights into the differentiated decision-making processes of commercial practice and furnish students with understandings of buying behaviours across a fast-changing retail environment.

• Foster creativity in the application of knowledge, developing sophisticated techniques of research enquiry and contributing to practical understanding of the field in order to advance scholarship.

• Facilitate students in gaining a holistic overview of professional practice in a range of consumer-facing contexts within the global marketing context.

• Enhance cognitive, practical, academic and transferable skills (time-management; problem-solving; numeracy; creativity; written, verbal & visual communication) together with applied decision-making abilities needed for a successful career in marketing and other related disciplines.


- Flagship stores

- Retail store design; bricks-and-mortar and online store layout

- Atmospherics and product presentation

- Semiotics and visual merchandising

- Trend prediction and technology

- The buying cycle

- Trade shows and exhibitions

- Inventory control and product performance measurement

- International product costs and life-cycles

- Supply chains, distribution and logistics

- Service culture

Learning and teaching

The module embraces a student-led approach to learning at post-graduate level as students engage in the co-creation of knowledge alongside their peers and members of staff.  Project-based activities and case study methods linking theory with practice in applied decision-making contexts will be supported by development of an on-line collaborative learning environment in addition to Weblearn, where appropriate contributions can be made by any member of the cohort in order to enhance learning opportunities. The module mobilises a blended learning strategy that employs a ‘flipped classroom’ system where the advance posting of material on particular topics/issues frees up classroom time for group discussion and peer interaction. The first three weeks of the programme feature diagnostic assessment to determine the cohort’s academic level and abilities, but as participants in a post-graduate programme students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning – engaging in self-directed study and being actively involved in negotiating the format of the assessment tasks. Industry contacts will be drawn on to identify guest speakers and these events will facilitate networking and broaden students’ understanding of career options. Students will be encouraged to follow enterprising trajectories by engaging with internal agencies such as the Accelerator and required to demonstrate a reflective attitude towards their academic performance through regular recourse to personal development planning during the module and by setting goals for their progress over the academic year.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students are expected to be able to:

1. Critically explore, analyse and evaluate a range of contemporary issues and practical aspects in the arenas of retail design, buying and merchandising.

2. Apply core concepts, theories and models to own practice and/or work environment in order to   address current and potential future challenges.

3. Demonstrate sophisticated understandings of the manner in which products are sourced and the logistical challenges involved in transporting, storing and presenting these in the retail environment.

4. Mobilise a range of differentiated theoretical approaches that address consumer behaviour and motivations on both macro- and micro-levels.

5. Articulate informed critiques of business ethics and corporate social responsibility that evidence awareness of the need for cultural and social diversity to be embraced in the global retailing context.

6. Use high-level academic writing and public presentation skills in gathering, organising, editing and deploying relevant qualitative/quantitative data and disseminating complex ideas using a variety of communicative media, including digital platforms.

Assessment strategy

The module focuses on the variety of elements that combine to construct the retail environment and the theoretical models that underpinnings these practices. Accordingly the module is assessed by two main components, which gauge achievement of the learning outcomes: an individual presentation including supporting material (weighting 30%) and a piece of individual coursework (weighting 70%).

Constructive alignment of assessment strategy to learning outcomes and skill development

Assessment Learning Outcomes Skills Development Details
Individual Presentation
1,2,3,4,5,6 Oral presentation (P,A); critical thinking (P,A); data analysis (P,A); self and time management (P,A); application of knowledge (P,A); researching (P,A), evaluation of ideas concepts, theories (P,A) Rolling presentation to peers
Students are required to make a 20-minute presentation to their peers on a topic negotiated with their lecturer. The analysis should demonstrate a theoretical-informed approach to the issue under consideration and provide an overview of the relevant academic literature. Students should be prepared to field questions from the audience and to defend their conclusions. The presentations will be scheduled on a rolling basis and to ensure fairness a similar period of notice regarding the topic will be given each presenter
Individual report (70%) 1,2,3,6 Exercising critical judgement regarding quality & validity of data (P,A); synthesis of theoretical ideas to make meaningful analysis (P,A);  application of knowledge (P,A);  researching (P,A); academic writing (P,A);  referencing (P,A) Comparative merchandising report
This comprises of a 4,000-word report, based around in-depth case studies of the bricks-and-mortar retail environments of two competing retailers operating at a similar market level. The piece should be comparative in nature – documenting the main elements of the institutions’ respective merchandising strategies and addressing the retail design of the two sites. The discussion should feature application of relevant theoretical models and evidence of wider reading



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Bell, J. & Ternus, K. (2012), Silent Selling: Best Practices & Effective Strategies in Visual Merchandising, Fairchild Books
Bryman, A. (2012), Social Research Methods, Oxford University Press
Clodfelter, R. (2009), Retail Buying: From Basics to Fashion, Fairchild
Diamond, J. & Pintel G. (2012), Retail Buying, Prentice Hall
Easterling, C. et al. (2007), Merchandising Math for Retailing, Prentice Hall
Ennis, S. (2016), Retail Marketing, McGraw Hill.
Ghauri, P. & Gronhaug K. (2010), Research Methods in Business Studies, London: Financial Times Press
Hoffman, A. (2011), Fundamentals of Merchandising Math and Retail Buying, Prentice Hall
Malhotra, N., Birks, D. & Wills, P. ( 2013 ), Essentials of Marketing Research Pearson Education Ltd
Poloian, L. (2013), Retailing Principles. Global, Multi-channel and Managerial Viewpoints, Bloomsbury
Posner, H. (2014), Marketing Fashion. Laurence King.
Raymond, M. (2010), The Trend Forecasters Handbook, Laurence King
Saunders, M. et al. (2012), Research Methods for Business Students, Harlow: Prentice Hall
Schmidt, M. & Hollensen, S. (2006), Marketing Research: An International Approach, Pearson Education.
Solomon, M. (2014), Consumer Behavior: Global Edition, Pearson Higher Education

European Journal of Marketing,
International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 
Journal of Brand Management
Journal of Brand Strategy
Journal of Consumer Marketing
Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management
Journal of Fashion Marketing Management
Journal of Management and Marketing Research
Journal of Marketing Communications
Journal of Retailing, Journal of Retail and Consumer Services 
International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
International Journal of Research in Marketing
Retail Bulletin
Retail Merchandiser