Retail Terms Every Modern Retailer Should Know

Table of Contents

When the only thing that’s constant in this industry is change, we know how hard it can be to keep up with all the latest retail lingo. That’s why we’ve broken it down into this list that includes the most important retail terms to know. Whether you’re a newbie or just looking to refresh your knowledge, these terms are key in the industry. 


Buying Activity

  • Anything that impacts the future inventory position.
  • Examples are, placing a buy, cancelling a purchase order (PO) or moving the delivery date for a PO.

Choice Count (aka CC)

  • A customer's unique style-color choice (e.g., Blue Crew Neck vs. Red Crew Neck) independent of sizing.

Continuity Product (aka Key Item)

  • Basic products that are sold year after year with little variation.
  • These are often managed automatically, with little intervention from the buyer. T-shirts, socks, etc. are good example of these. Many buying platforms will have a key item management capability to manage these.

Delivery Window

  • Start / end dates for each delivery.
  • This should be captured along with the assortment plan, so that the relevant parties know when the products will be hitting the store.

Launch Date

  • When a particular product will be hitting the stores.


  • Some brands deliver all the SKUs in one go but other brands can deliver 10 SKUs in with drop 1, 10 SKUs with drop 2, etc.

End Date

  • The last day a product is available for ordering (or for sale).
  • This is particularly relevant for continuity products that are sold year after year. If you want to terminate that product, you place an end date so that the system stops ordering it.

Seasonal Products

  • Products that are more appropriate for a limited time-frame or season. Fashion items are most often seasonal products.

Market Week / Buy Week

  • It is the time-frame during which brands (or suppliers) open up their showrooms for retailers to visit and place orders.

Keying an Order

  • Once a brand gets an order from a retailer, the order is keyed in once the brand confirms and puts that order in their systems.

Raising an Order

  • Retailer sending an order to the brand.

SMU - Special Make Up

  • If a product was a continuity and if it’s being deprecated then, they could have a special order for another retailer.

Key Item

  • Key item is a term that is used interchangeably with continuity products.


Available To Sell (ATS)

  • Number of items available at hand to sell.

Available To Ship (ATS)

  • When brands have products in their warehouses that are available to ship to retailers immediately.
  • This is more important within in-season planning, where retailers could request more products if they are selling out.

Cover Level

  • This tells you the number of days of sales you would be able to support with the inventory at hand. Typically measured in days.
  • Ideally cover level should be low enough to reduce your inventory cost and high enough to protect you from disruptions in your suppliers.


  • Minimum order quantity.
  • The brand wouldn’t make an SMU if that MOQ is not met.

Sales Activity

  • Any retailer activity that will increase or decrease sales, hence change inventory position (e.g. markdowns, marketing, reallocation, etc.).

Ready for the next step?

Check out how to apply these terms in our list of basic retail math formulas to know.

Eytan Daniyalzade
CEO & Co Founder