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25 Retail Acronyms & Abbreviations You Should Know


Jan 4, 2021 - 5 minute read

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Paweł Krawczyk Chapter Leader & Senior Software Developer

He readily follows market trends and is passionate about technology—most notably, mobile and cloud solutions. Currently, he’s focused on bringing added value to the company’s commercial retail projects.

See all Paweł's posts

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Industry-specific acronyms can often have multiple meanings, and sometimes Wikipedia isn’t enough to decipher them. Shorthand only works, if everyone is on the same page. Otherwise, you’re just creating more chaos and unnecessary back-and-forth discussions. And in retail, there’s no time to waste.

I Can Just Google It, Right?

Yes, you can, but sometimes there’s no time for that. Have you ever heard an acronym, but you didn’t know the meaning behind it? This can really throw you off your game during a conversation. The retail industry has a very specific and complicated jargon. Learning it all over a short period can be a difficult challenge. This article’s goal is to help you with this process.

If you’re new to the retail sector, straight out of university, or simply starting to build a long-term career, this might be a useful starting point. It can help you understand a part of the wide array of acronyms that are used in this industry on a daily basis. Our team prepared a handy glossary of 25 of the most common retail acronyms and abbreviations.

A List of Common Retail Acronyms & Abbreviations

  • 3PL (Third-Party Logistics)The utilisation of third-party businesses to outsource sections of the distribution, warehousing, and replenishment services.

  • AOV (Average Order Value)A metric that calculates the average total value of every order placed with a vendor over a specified period.

  • CPFR (Collaborative Planning Forecasting Replenishment)A cooperative approach in logistics which utilises sharing information between retailers and suppliers to improve the functionality of supply chains.

  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)A set of practices that allows an organisation to manage and analyse its past, current and future interactions with customers.

  • CX (Customer Experience)— The impression the company makes on its customers. This includes direct interactions with the organisation’s stores and employees as well as the overall perception of the brand.
  • DC (Distribution Centre)—A warehouse or specialised building that stores product stock that will be sent out to retailers (or directly to consumers).
  • DSD (Direct Store Delivery)—A method of distribution in which the supplier transports the goods directly to the store, bypassing the retailer’s distribution centre.
  • EAN (European Article Number)—A system of barcode symbols and numbering standards used in global trade to identify a specific product type, packaging configuration, and the manufacturer that produced it.

  • EOL (End of Life)—A term used to communicate that the product is in the end of its relevancy period (from the vendor's point of view), and they will no longer market, sell, or sustain it.

  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)—A process of managing crucial day-to-day activities and other parts of business. It’s often assisted by software and technology.
  • ESL (Electronic Shelf Label)—A system which allows retailers to display product prices on shelves. The pricing is automatically updated whenever changes are made in the central server.
  • FSDU (Free Standing Display Units)—Standalone displays which present specific available products. They’re used in the retail industry to influence buying patterns.
  • GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)—An identifier for trade goods used to check product information in various databases. This can often be done by entering the number through a barcode scanner pointed at a specific item.
  • OOS (Out of Stock)—An event that causes the inventory of a certain product to run out. This acronym can also be used to communicate that the supply of the specific item was exhausted.
  • OSA (On-Shelf Availability)—The availability of products for sale in a given store; without the need to transport stock from a warehouse or another store.
  • POP (Point of Purchase)—The setup where retailers plan and execute the promotion of specific products, in the case of brick-and-mortar stores, it’s often near the place where transactions are completed.
  • POS (Point of Sale)—The time and place where a transaction is concluded. It’s where the total price of purchased goods is calculated and the payment is executed. It can be a till in a brick-and-mortar store or a specific page on an eCommerce website.
  • ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline)—A common trend in buying behaviour where customers research the products they’re interested in online. After they make their decision, they buy the selected product in a local store. This phenomenon is also known as online-to-store or webrooming.
  • RTM (Route to Market)—The way a retailer provides the products to the target demographic at the right time. It’s the channel or model of distribution which allows companies to sell their products to shoppers.
  • RTV (Return to Vendor)—The process of returning the products to the original vendor instead of the distributor. Oftentimes the item is returned to the retailer by the end user.
  • SCM (Supply Chain Management)—A group of processes that ensure the constant flow of goods and services from manufacturers to end customers. It involves the distribution of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods, from the point of origin to the point of consumption.
  • SEL (Shelf Edge Label)—A descriptor that helps the customer identify the product on the shelf. The label contains crucial information such as selling price, barcode, product description, etc.
  • SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)—A detailed description of a purchasable item that includes all its attributes such as size, colour and other data relevant to tracking a store’s inventory.
  • UPC (Universal Product Code)—A special code printed on product packaging that allows for the identifying of a particular item. It consists of two components—a unique series of black bars which serves as a machine-readable barcode, and a 12-digit number placed below it.
  • WMS (Warehouse Management System)—A software solution created to support and optimise the functionality of a warehouse and distribution centre. These systems assist the management in their activities related to planning, organising, and directing the resources at hand to ensure the smooth operation of the warehouse.


Gaining a mastery of these common retail acronyms is an important step in becoming a proficient and self-confident participant in business meetings. These crucial terms will help you find a common language with people within the industry, and help position you as an experienced professional. Take your time to learn and understand these 25 retail abbreviations, so you’re prepared when you encounter them during future projects.

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Paweł Krawczyk Chapter Leader & Senior Software Developer

He readily follows market trends and is passionate about technology—most notably, mobile and cloud solutions. Currently, he’s focused on bringing added value to the company’s commercial retail projects.

See all Paweł's posts

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