The Retail NaviGator - our communication to you about our research on retailing issues and the activities of the David F. Miller Center. This ongoing media change creates a direct connection to the retailing community in a way that keeps information current, direct and GREEN!
Retail Study Tour of China a Big Success
"Twenty-three UF students experienced the rapid pace of retail development in China "up close and personal" on a three-week study tour in May. Organized and led by the Miller Center staff, the group visited cities of different size, region, stage of economic development and retailing environment providing an articulated view of this diverse country. Tour stops included large cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong in addition to Yingkou, Chengdu and Shenzhen.
The tour actually began during the spring semester. Students attended a series of classes to learn about retailing in China. They reviewed key retail companies there and acquired an introductory understanding of China's culture and language. Students completed specific company reports in advance of the trip, plus more extensive research projects based on learning from the study tour. The program was offered as a four-credit course at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Dr. Elinore Fresh, who teaches Chinese language and culture at UF, joined Miller Center Executive Director Dr. Steven Kirn and Director of Student Programs Cecilia Schulz as tour leaders, while Research Director Dr. Hyunjoo Oh, was primarily responsible for organizing the program agenda, preparation and course direction.
The study tour was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which also included support for Center staff and students to develop instructional materials and curriculum in the area of international retailing – a topic which is typically given only passing attention in business, marketing and other classes in the U.S.
The tour was packed with learning experiences, including formal meetings and briefings from Chinese government and trade association officials, presentations and tours led by retail and manufacturing executives, and many "on your own" excursions designed to provide hands-on, personal encounters with retail formats and shopping experiences. Students also had the opportunity to explore some of the most famous Chinese cultural sites, including the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Panda Preserve and Research Center and traditional residential communities.
The tempo of growth and change in cities of all sizes, and the sheer scope and scale of cities such as Shanghai – with 23 million people – were especially striking to tour participants, leading many to conclude that there are outstanding opportunities for retail expansion in China. One student will be returning this Fall to open a Beijing location of his family's giftware business, while many others expressed an interest in returning for more touring or for internship or job opportunities.
The Miller Center plans to return to China in 2012. Plans are to visit some different locales and engage in more extensive pre-tour preparation.
This electronic newsletter from The David F. Miller Center for Retailing Education and Research is issued throughout the year to provide updates on what is happening in retailing at the University of Florida. Information regarding student outreach, jobs, internships, research and retailing connections throughout the country will be included. We hope you enjoy seeing what Gators are doing in the retail industry!