Trade, or commerce, involves the transfer of goods or services from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. A network that allows trade is called a market.
The original form of trade, barter, saw the direct exchange of goods and services for other goods and services. Barter is trading things without the use of money. Later one side of the barter started to involve precious metals, which gained symbolic as well as practical importance. Modern traders generally negotiate through a medium of exchange, such as money. As a result, buying can be separated from selling, or earning. The invention of money (and later credit, paper money and non-physical money) greatly simplified and promoted trade. Trade between two traders is called bilateral trade, while trade between more than two traders is called multilateral trade.
Trade exists due to the specialization and division of labor, in which most people concentrate on a small aspect of production, but use that output in trades for other products and needs. Trade exists between regions because different regions may have a comparative advantage (perceived or real) in the production of some trade-able commodity—including production of natural resources scarce or limited elsewhere, or because different regions’ size may encourage mass production. As such, trade at market prices between locations can benefit both locations.
Retail trade consists of the sale of goods or merchandise from a very fixed location, such as a department store, boutique or kiosk, online or by mail, in small or individual lots for direct consumption or use by the purchaser. Wholesale trade is defined as the sale of goods that are sold as merchandise to retailers, or industrial, commercial, institutional, or other professional business users, or to other wholesalers and related subordinated services.