Specialized Retail Education Programs

The Miller Center and Education develops specialized retail executive education programs for individual companies, industry specific groups, and international retailers. These executive education programs are customized to meet the needs of each group, drawing upon the best minds in the retail industry along with university-based researchers, to deliver a combination of insight and practicality that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Custom Retail Seminars

The Miller Center provides custom-designed three and five day seminars for managers in retail firms. There is a wide variety of topics that have been the focus of these programs. See below for examples of retail seminar topics.

International Retailer Study Tours

Through its contacts with retailers, the Miller Center can arrange for visits to the corporate headquarters of major U.S. retailers. Executives in these firms discuss their cutting edge practices in merchandise management, store location, marketing, multi-channel retailing, and supply chain management.

In addition, the Center can arrange for guided tours of retail stores in which new concepts are being tested and major shopping venues.

U.S. Study Tours for Chinese Retail Executives

May 18-29, 2008: the Miller Center for Retailing Education and Research and the Chinese Retail Research Center at Tsinghua University are offering a study tour of the U.S. for Chinese retail executives. The 13-day tour will involve lecture/discussions from industry leaders, visits to shopping centers, and meetings in corporate headquarters.

Retail Seminar Topics
Trends in Retailing

Retailing is evolving into a global, high tech industry. Some of the trends discussed in this session are: providing services to differentiate offering (animal care at PetsMart, clinics in drugstores), consolidation of industry, centralization of merchandise management, growth of private label merchandise, issues in hiring and training store employees, customer relationship management, supply chain efficiencies, and use of analytical methods for improving operations.

Retail Strategy

The growing intensity of retail competition due to the emergence of new competitors, formats and technologies plus shifts in customer needs is forcing retailers to devote more attention to long-term strategic planning. This session would review the elements in a retail strategy - the definition of the target market and offering and the development of sustainable competitive advantages - and illustrate approaches used by retailers to effectively develop sustainable competitive advantage. Some examples of effective approaches for developing competitive advantage that will be discussed are customer service (Nordstrom), branding (Starbucks), supply chain management (Wal-Mart), customer relationship management (CVS), exclusive merchandise (Macy's), tailoring stores to local customer needs (Best Buy) and human resource management (Whole Foods).

Shopping Behavior and Store Design

Considerable research has been conducted by academics and practitioners about the factors consumers consider in selecting a retailer to patronize and how the store environment affects their shopping behavior - the amount of time they spend in the store and the amount of merchandise they buy. For example, Envirosell, founded by Paco Underhill, specializes in anthropological research that videos and interviews customers as they are shopping. This research provides interesting insight into where merchandise should be placed, the most effective design of checkout counters, and the width of aisles. Some issues that could be addressed in this session are: how customers perceive the assortments offered by stores, what is the appropriate excitement level for a store, where should different types of merchandise be located in the store, and what the design tradeoffs between making the experience convenient and preventing losses due to shoplifting.

New Retail Technologies and the Store of the Future

A major trend in retailing is the use of technology to improve the customer's shopping experience and reduce operating costs. Some examples of new technologies are: RFID technology to improve supply chain efficiency and reduce inventory shrinkage, digital signage to increase message effectiveness and flexibility, electronic price tags, and handheld devices and kiosks to provide more information and better service customers.

Multi-Channel Retailing

Ten years ago, traditional store-based retailers were concerned about the impact of Internet entrepreneurs. Today, however, except for a few notable exceptions such as Amazon.com and Dell.com, most of the Internet-only retailers are niche players that sell hard-to-find products and services, hobbies, and collectables. The rest of the electronic retailing activity is controlled by retailers who have their roots either in traditional stores or catalogs. Most store-based retailers have evolved into multi-channel retailers offering their customers a seamless interface through multiple channels. Some of the issues examined in this session could be approaches a that retailers are use their Internet channel to complement their store channel; best practices in the website design; and the use of Internet technologies to build assurance even though they can touch and fell merchandise.

Merchandise Optimization/Category Management

Retailers are increasing using sophisticated analytical methods to optimize their merchandise management. Some examples of these methods that can be demonstrated in this session are software for developing merchandise budget plans, determining the optimal depth and timing of markdown, and tailoring merchandise assortments to local markets. The use of these methods has given retailers better insights into how to manage categories of merchandise to meet customer demand and reduce the number of SKU's and inventory carries in the category.

Customer Service

Customer service is becoming an important approach for differentiating retail offerings. Providing good customer service is particularly challenging because the employees providing service are often at the low end of the income and education scale. In this session, we can discuss how customers make judgments about service quality, the cues that retailers use to influence these customer service judgments, and approaches used by the best customer service retailers for effectively managing service providers.

Customer Relationship Management

Traditionally, retailers have focused their attention on encouraging customers to visit their stores, look through their catalogs, and visit their websites. Now retailers are beginning to concentrate on providing more value to their best customers using targeted promotions and services to increase their share of wallet-the percentage of the customers' purchases made from the retailer-with these customers. This change in perspective is supported by research indicating that it costs three to six times more to sell products and services to new customers than existing customers and that small increases in customer retention can lead to dramatic increases in profits. This session would focus on methods used by retailers to identify their best customers and then programs, such as loyalty cards, used to build loyalty among their best customers and increase the lifetime value of customers.

Developing Retail Brand Image and Private Label Merchandise Brands

To differentiate their offering and build a competitive advantage, retailers are placing more emphasis on developing their brand image, building a strong image for their private-label merchandise, and extending their image to new retail formats. In this session, we will discuss the components of brand image and positioning of brands relative to competition, best practices for developing strong names, the advantages and disadvantages of developing private label merchandise, and approaches that retailers are using to design and source private label merchandise.

Vendor-Retailer Relationships and Supply Chain Management

In the past, the relationship between retailers and their vendors has been adversarial. They focused on bargaining over whole prices and terms and conditions. Recently, vendors and retailers have tried to build partnering relationships leading to improved supply chain efficiencies, fewer stock outs, and fewer clearance markdowns. Some issues discussed in this section are: the various tools used in these coordinated efforts (VMI, EDI, ECR); the nature of these relationships; and how these relationship are built over time.

Study Tour Retail Site Visits
Walgreens Corporate Headquarters

Walgreens is the largest drug store chain the U.S. and it's growing rapidly - opening up 500 new stores each year. Walgreens is an exemplar of the use of the Internet to provide information and build customer loyalty. The company also has innovative systems that make it easy for customers to refill prescriptions at any store in the U.S.

Sears Holding (Sears/Kmart/LandsEnd) Corporate Headquarters

Sears Holdings Corporation, the parent of Kmart and Sears, Roebuck and Co., is the nation's third largest broadline retailer, with approximately $55 billion in annual revenues, and with approximately 3,800 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada. Sears Holdings is the leading home appliance retailer as well as a leader in tools, lawn and garden, home electronics and automotive repair and maintenance. Key proprietary brands include Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard, and a broad apparel offering, including such well-known labels as Lands' End, Jaclyn Smith and Joe Boxer, as well as the Apostrophe and Covington brands. It also has Martha Stewart Everyday products, which are offered exclusively in the U.S. by Kmart and in Canada by Sears Canada. The company is the nation's largest provider of home services, with more than 13 million service calls made annually.

jcpenney Corporate Headquarters

jcpenney is one of America's largest department store, catalog, and e-commerce retailers, employing approximately 151,000 associates and operating over 1,000 stores. It is widely recognized for its private label merchandise and quality control laboratory. The firm is also one of the most successful multi-channel retailers - one of the largest catalog and Internet retailers complementing its stores. Company managers will discuss the issues involved in coordinating their store, catalog, and Internet channels; the process they use in developing private label brands and supporting merchandise; and the use for reverse auctions to buying merchandise and store equipment.

Zales Corporate Headquarters

Zales is one of the latest jewelry store chains in the US. Its strategy is to make a luxurious product more accessible to everyone was implemented through a revolutionary credit plan of "a penny down and a dollar a week."

Radio Shack Corporate Headquarters

One of the nation's most trusted consumer electronics specialty retailers and a growing provider of a variety of retail support services. The company operates a vast network of sales channels, including: more than 6,000 company and dealer stores; over 100 RadioShack locations in Mexico and Canada and nearly 800 wireless kiosks. RadioShack's knowledgeable and helpful sales associates deliver convenient product and service solutions within minutes of where 94 percent of all Americans either live or work. Company managers will discuss their strategic planning activities and the steps they are taking to position their firm relative to competition.

Mary Kay Cosmetics Corporate Headquarters

Celebrating more than 40 years in business, Mary Kay is in the pink and in Avon's shadow (considering Avon's more than $8.1 billion in revenue in 2005) as the US's #2 direct seller of beauty products. It offers more than 200 products in six categories: body care, color cosmetics, facial skin care, fragrance, nail care, and sun protection. More than 1.6 million independent sales consultants demonstrate Mary Kay products in the US and some 30 other countries. The firm has unique programs for motivating sales consultants offering rewards each year, ranging from jewelry to the company's trademark pink Cadillac (first awarded in 1969). Company managers will discuss the issues in operating a direct sales force and creating incentives to motivate salespeople.

Tuesday Morning Corporate Headquarters

Tuesday Morning offers big discounts every day of the week, but not every week of the year. The closeout retailer sells discontinued merchandise from name-brand manufacturers at steep discounts. Its merchandise typically includes linens, china, cookware, rugs, and collectibles. Tuesday Morning's 760-plus stores, located in 46 states, operate only during monthly sales events (with the exception of January and July). The retailer keeps costs down by selling from low-rent locations and using seasonal help -- less than 25% of its workers are full-time employees.

IBM Corporate Headquarters

Meetings and tour IBM's "Store of the Future". A facility at there corporate headquarters that demonstrates the latest technologies they are implementing with retailers - a look at the store of the future.

Macy's East Division Headquarters

The five division of Macy's, owned by Federated Department Stores, are pursuing an interesting new direction for the future. Federated has launched Macy's as a truly nationwide department store. Macy's has made significant progress in each of the four strategic priorities that guide its business decisions. Its four priorities - Assortments, Price Simplification, Improving the Shopping Experience and Marketing - have sharpen its discipline and creativity. The firm are segmented its customers into four categories and developed retail programs tailored to each segment.

Disney World

Since its founding in 1923, The Walt Disney Company has remained faithful in its commitment to producing unparalleled entertainment experiences based on its rich legacy of quality creative content and exceptional storytelling. Today, Disney is divided into four major business segments: Studio Entertainment, Parks and Resorts, Consumer Products, and Media Networks. Each segment consists of integrated, well-connected businesses that operate in concert to maximize exposure and growth worldwide.

Home Shopping Network Corporate Headquarters

HSN originated the TV home shopping concept in 1977 and has since evolved into a global multi-channel retailing giant, offering thousands of unique products in fashion, beauty, home, jewelry and electronics. HSN's product offerings can be found across a number of retailing platforms ranging from TV, where HSN reaches 89 million U.S. households and is now the 4th largest cable television network in the U.S.; the Internet, through its easy-to-use Web site, www.hsn.com; and catalogs. In 2005, HSN generated worldwide consolidated sales of over $3 billion, answered 66 million calls and delivered more than 60 million products worldwide.

Publix Corporate Headquarters

Publix is one of the largest and fastest growing supermarket chains in the U.S. It operates 900 stores in five states and has recently opened prototype supermarkets catering to the Hispanic market and health-oriented customers competing with Whole Foods. The firm is judged as one of the best retailers to work for and is extensively involved in community affairs.

Office Depot Corporate Headquarters

Office Depot, founded in 1986, sells more products and services to more customers in more countries than any other company. Its distribution channels include stores, direct mail, contract delivery, the Internet and business-to-business electronic commerce. Its Business Solutions Division caters to the needs of customers who are interested in having their office solutions delivered directly to them. Based on the needs of its customers, it has a dedicated Contract Sales Teams, Telephone Account Managers, Catalogs, Direct Mail and multiple Websites. Customers can easily place orders via its network of Call Centers, Online, Fax or by shopping in any of its over 1,000 Retail locations. Meet with executives who will discuss the operations of an office supply category specialist. Discuss with managers about the issues of coordinating retail store operations with wholesale operation (selling merchandise to other businesses).

BrandsMart Corporate Headquarters

BrandsMart is a highly successful regional chain selling appliances and consumer electronics. Its BrandsMart's success is based on to two factors: efficient operations and differentiation from competitors. Its two-tier store in Sunrise combines the best of a power retailer along with a boutique approach to certain product categories, notably big-screen television, camcorders, car audio and home office, each of which has its own alcove or soundproofed room. Otherwise, products are stacked on a racetrack around a "well" that contains home appliances. The company stocks 80,000 sku's, and the average department runs the gamut from entry level products through extremely high-end goods. The most dramatic example: ranges run from $189 to $44,000.


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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