Truck Retailing is Picking Up Speed

In our Retailing tutorial, we present a number of ways in which retailers can be categorized.  One way of grouping is by the method a retailer uses to distribute to customers.  As we explain, there are two main distribution approaches ? store-based retailing, where customers visit a specific physical location to make purchases, and non-store retailing, where customers make purchases without visiting a retailer?s outlet.  Under the non-store retailing category we list three types: 1) selling online (i.e., Internet retailing); 2) selling by direct marketing methods (e.g., catalog); and 3) selling that occurs through vending machines not found at the retailer?s own location.

Given this story in USA Today, we probably should add another non-store retailing option ? selling from a truck.  The idea of truck selling is certainly not a new one as food trucks are a common fixture in many large urban areas.   Yet retail selling, where a truck moves from one location to another, is much less common and, in some cities, is not even legal due to decades-old vendor laws.  

Despite potential legal constraints, retailing from a truck is apparently a hot business.  In fact, there is even a special trade association for this type of retailing, the aptly named American Mobile Retail Association.  This organization claims this retailing method is growing rapidly.  And as this story discusses, much of this growth is coming from boutique clothing retailers, who travel to different locations then invite customers to enter their small trucks where they can browse products and make purchases.  These retailers are able to attract customers thanks to social media, where they communicate the locations their trucks will set up shop.