Some attempt to specialise, others want to be all things to all people. Some want the multi-site outlets, whilst other are happy to have one store, or even no stores and just to operate online.
However, I believe that it is possible to split retailers into 2 categories- those that compete on price, and those that don't. This may seem absurd at first sight - of course all retailers have to establish a competitive price, don't they?
Well, what I'm saying is-
Some retailers provide goods at the lowest possible price and use price as their marketing edge - Aldi, Poundland, Home Bargains, Tesco.
Some retailers provide a service or something else that goes above and beyond just a product for the lowest price, and subsequently can offer things at a higher price and still have a flow of customers - Boots, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer.
So back to the original question - what type of retailer do you want to be?
I think that this is the tougher way to distinguish yourself. I think that there is always someone who can undercut you, or attempt to undercut you. There are some massive competitors out there that can run lost-leaders or price promotions to drive you put of business, should they want to.
In my view, this is the way forward. If you can offer something to your customers that they can't get elsewhere, if they can't get it locally. I was once told that the definition of competitive advantage is -
"Doing something that your competition can't or won't do."
Now, to me, this isn't price - it's service. Build A Bear and the teddies that your kids have made themselves, Marks & Spencer and their superior quality food and service, or your local craft store that offers lessons for children.
As a successful retailer, or a potential succesful retailer, you need to find whatever this is for you and your business. We used to call it a USP, it's the reason your customers come back to you.
If you don't already know what this is, then work with your team, your customers and establish exactly what it is. Then accentuate it, run with it, use it on your marketing, talk about it ceaselessly. It's your future.