The function of business operations is to take varied inputs and process them into outputs which customers will buy. These inputs may be materials, manpower and capital and the outputs goods or services. This description of productive operations applies not only to manufacturers but also to other firms. The process performed by a retailer, for instance, is to take an input of varied goods in bulk and offer them to the public in locations, circumstances and quantities required by them. In addition to those inputs involved directly in the transformation process others are needed to ascertain the needs of the public and to inform them of and entice them to buy the goods and services the firm has for sale (the marketing function). Further inputs are required for the planning, co-ordination and control of the marketing and production functions and possibly for such other activities as research and development.
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