Retail NaviGator

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!

December: Issue 5, 2013

In this issue:

AT&T Speaker Inspires Retailing Students

By Lauren Sanchez

Rich Guidotti, Vice President and General Manager of AT&T's Greater Florida Market, stressed the importance of leadership during his appearance in the Sears Holdings Speaker Series. Guidotti's primary responsibilities are maximizing profitability while delivering exceptional customer service. Guidotti said one of the most important things a company can have is a leader. From a business perspective, Guidotti defined leadership as the ability to inspire and engage others to overachieve the stated and shared objectives. Some people he considers great leaders areStan Sigman (former CEO of Cingular Wireless), U.S. presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Guidotti revered these leaders because during tough times they were able to set a vision, and put that vision into action.


Why is leadership important? Because of the impact it has on the business. The top 10% of companies with great leaders generate significantly higher profits, and of the top 10%, 90% of employees are satisfied. As opposed to a manager, leaders inspire and motivate the people around them. Everyone has the ability to be a leader; whether or not you want to be a leader is up to you.

5 Critical Traits of a Leader

Being a leader starts from within. The first trait is your character (Are you a good person? Will you lie or cheat?). The other four traits are the interpersonal skills (Does your team like you? Can you lead a group of people?), personal capability (Can you get to the next level?), focus on the results and leading change (Can you move from point A to B without guidance?). Guidotti made the analogy of these five critical traits being like a tent with your character as the mid-pole, and the other critical traits being the peripherals, holding up the four corners of the tent. Great leaders are self-aware, never lose touch with their employees or customers, show empathy and humility, protect their workers, create a safe zone, are wise but can recognize when they are wrong, surround themselves with great people, establish and communicate a vision, are not afraid to take a chance and can develop people. Leadership is relevant in your personal life and future business life. At some point you will have to step up and be a leader.

Wrap Up + The Success Framework

A career in retail sales leadership is appealing because of:

  • Attractive compensation
  • Energized work environment
  • Growth
  • Abundant options
  • Sustainability

Guidotti ended his presentation with a success framework. The top tier is to dream big! Second, is to believe in yourself. The third contains the pillars of success: Develop a winning game plan, take risks, overcome obstacles and recognize opportunities. The bottom tier consists of principles; teamwork, integrity, credibility, attitude, vision and excellence.

Matt Hieronimus

Ellen Davis Brings NRF Cheer to Students

By Kristel Garnier

Students at the University of Florida had the opportunity to hear Ellen Davis, Senior Vice President of National Retail Federation (NRF). Davis shared the reality of the retail industry as always being the first industry to feel the impact of a recession; it is also noted as the first to rebound.

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To help students progress through their internship and career searches, Davis delivered a presentation about five ways in which students can get involved, hired and stand out. She approached the subject by advising students to network. She suggested registering for the NFR Student Association. The NRF sends students emails about retail news and trends, andsStudents are encouraged to like NRF on Facebook and to follow on Twitter. Students can stay current with retail news and have insightful topics to discuss with recruiters. She encouraged students to create a LinkedIn account to connect with retailers as well.

Davis recommended that students attend career fairs. The University of Florida hosts two main career showcases, but in addition, students can go beyond their university and attend the NRF virtual career fair on October 16 from 1-4pm. To attend this fair, students register and upload their résumé at This forum will allow them to interact with retailers virtually for internships and entry-level positions.

Scholarships are a great way to be recognized. Davis discussed an intriguing case competition that the NRF is hosting. The student challenge will consist of teams of two to four participants. Tasked with creating a new product for the company, the team will develop a business plan and a video pitch. Retail executives will be judging the competition and the winning team receives a $2,500 prize per student. For more information visit: The final round of the competition will be held in January 2014 in New York City at the BIG Show 2014, where students will be face-to-face with some of retail's biggest executives.

Davis also encouraged students to enter the NRF design contest and design a holiday card for the NRF to send out to all their retail partners. This card will allow students to show retailers your creative side it. The back of the card will feature the winner's picture & QR code to the student's resume. The winner will also receive $1,000 and a trip to NYC for Retail's BIG Show 2014.

Ashley Faber

Staying Customer-Centric when Working Omni-Channels

By Lauren Sanchez

The University of Florida welcomed Senior VP of Planning and Allocation of Dick's Sporting Goods, Mike Sablowski. He presented on how Dick's Sporting Goods leverages inventory when doing business through multiple channels with customers. The mission for Dick's Sporting Goods is to be recognized by customers as the #1 sports and fitness specialty retailer, grow their store base, continue to partner with brands, aggressively build the omni-channel presence and execute strategic marketing plans. The company sets itself apart from other sports retailers by providing multiple price points in each department. By doing this, all customers are served.

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Currently, Dick's Sporting Goods is the largest full-line U.S. retailer for sporting goods with an aggressive growth strategy for the next five years. By enhancing their website, newer capabilities (i.e. return to store) and store network leverage, the company believes it can triple the size of their ecommerce business by 2015.

Dick's Sporting Goods works with a company that holds and ships their inventory when an item is purchased online. When a fulfillment center is out of a product, the order is routed to the store closest to the customer. There are challenges with this system like how much of the ecommerce demand are transfers of demand versus market share growth? Also, coordinating the activities among all of the possible channels of business requires supervision to maintain efficiencies.

So to fight inventory deployment challenges, Dick's Sporting Goods uses a four-step merchandise model which includes planning, providing in-season merchandising, merchandise management and in-store management. The early adopters are transforming the customer experience through leveraging their brand, appropriate experimentation and innovation. For example, location-based offers, digital merchandising with endless inventory and personalized interactive technology are utilized. Retailers must develop critical building blocks to become truly omni-channel enabled and customer-centric.

Kaylee Kohfeldt

The NPD Group Inc.

By Lauren Sanchez

Don Unser, who leads The NPD Group's recruitment, product and business development efforts for a panel of retail partners, presented to a group of retail students this October. He began his presentation by describing how the NPD Group is a retail-consulting firm that provides sales data for a firm's point-of-sale tracking services for the more than 900 retail stores...

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The NPD team considers itself a business intelligence firm. It uses data, the strategy of the specific company and what they want to put in the store to come up with strategic decisions. Some remarkable retail statistics presented were: 3.6 million establishments in the U.S. are considered retail, 1 in 4 jobs are related to retail and NPD tracks $1 trillion out of $4 trillion that accounts for U.S. consumer spending. The retail community consists of consumers, retailers, manufacturers and service providers. NPD falls into the service providers.

Retail service providers are on the fringe of retail, but they are the drivers of retail. NPD uses the data and turns the information from these retailers into action. The steps NPD considers when consulting with a retailer include:

  1. What is happening in the market?
  2. What are the facts about the market and the retailer's performance in that market?
  3. What makes it important to the retailer?
  4. What are some insights leading to a decision, a plan of action and cost savings?
  5. What decision can be made with this information?

The NPD Group applies data from strategic planning, market sizing, trend and share measurement, assortment planning, pricing evaluation and optimization, opportunities/vulnerabilities and vendor line reviews to help companies make better decisions. Unser used an example of studying fashion footwear performance by channel. The analysis within the company begins with ideas for where the company can grow. This information leads to choosing the leader in the market. Next, you choose the hottest brand within fashion footwear (which happened to be Steve Madden in 2007). Finally, after choosing the brand, NPD takes a more in-depth approach into the particular style of shoe.

NPD tracks apparel, footwear, consumer electronics, accessories, home textiles, small appliances, mobile, toys, office supplies, auto, video games, beauty and commercial food service. By tracking these areas, NPD can analyze the data to help their partners make strategic decisions to move forward.

Unser ended his discussion by giving students advice for seeking a career. 1. Fall in love with the business model; 2. Fall in love with the people you are going to be working with and; 3. Make sure you are being compensated properly for your work.

Marissa Goldberg

Grabbing Customer's Attention to Make the Sale

By Lauren Sanchez

Jim Schneider began his career with P&G after graduating from Missouri State University. He moved to Reckitt & Colman where he held several positions of increasing responsibility during his 15 years of service before joining Signature Brands in 1992. As President and CEO of Signature Brands, he has guided the company through 17 years of growth and three acquisitions. Schneider is getting ready to retire this year.

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Signature Brands and Beech Nut Nutrition are companies held under a parent company, The Hero Group. The Hero Group was founded in 1886 and is a family-own business located in Berlin. The Hero Group has made its mark in 30 countries including the United States and worldwide sales for the group are approximately $2.5 billion with about 4,500 employees.

Schneider focused his presentation on Signature Brands, which operates in Ocala, Florida. The company makes dessert decorations under licensing with Betty Crocker and Breyers. In addition, Signature Brands makes seasonal products. For example, PAAS, the company that makes egg decorating kits for Easter and Pumpkin carving kits for Halloween. The company likes to find niches that other companies do not think of and make a profit from these products because there is less competition.

The main focus of Schneider's presentation was merchandising from the supplier's perspective. He defined merchandising as the process/art used to accelerate sales in retail. As a part of the process, the merchandiser pays very close attention to the drivers: product selection, price, promotion, positioning and competition.

Signature Brands has excelled from its in-store visual designs. Its use of displays attracts customers and grabs their attention to make the sale. Statistics show that 72% of purchases in the decorating supplies section are on impulse. Therefore, Signature Brands must make its displays and products appealing in order to be profitable; 27% of the company's sales are generated from off-shelf merchandising.

Along with their displays, Signature Brands also uses related item merchandising and mini-seasonal events to fill in the gaps during times when their major products are not in season. For example, it will use St. Patrick's Day or graduation season to market its products. Schneider was adamant about the use of displays and making it easier for the customer in order to maximize sales in the space given, and this is the reason why the company continues to stay profitable.

Retail Navigator

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!


College Info

Warrington College of Business
BRY 100
PO Box 117150
Gainesville, FL 32611-7150
Phone: 352.392.2397
Fax: 352.392.2086

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