Holiday shopping is increasingly migrating online, according to the 2017 C-CUBES™ Benchmark Retail Study. This is the first consumer holiday report conducted by Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

In 2016, about half of the participants (52 percent) did more than 40 percent of their holiday shopping online. This year, 62 percent plan to do more than 40 percent of their holiday shopping online. The vast majority of all consumers intended on shopping both store aisles and via digitally engaged devices, with fewer than 10 percent of respondents planning to only patronize physical stores.

This shift in consumer buying behavior is most affecting fashion products such as clothes and shoes, which top many wish list items at Christmas. About one in three respondents (34 percent) shop for these goods online.

The study is based on a nationally representative online survey of 5,881 adults conducted during October through November 2017. The margin of error is +/- 1 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

“Shoppers are the most clear about their shopping preferences during the holidays because of the planning it requires. These changes are here to stay,” said Shrihari Sridhar, Center for Executive Development Professor of Marketing at Mays Business School. Particularly retailers dealing in trend-influenced goods – like apparel, shoes, and jewelry – need to develop stronger digital options, because customers find online shopping to be a time saver and value generator.”

The 2017 C-CUBES™ Benchmark Retail Study was conducted by the Collaborative for Customer Based Execution and Strategy. Mays’ Center for Retailing Studies and the R.C. Barclay Endowed Library Fund sponsored the research, which analyzed shopping preferences across several consumer categories including fashion merchandise, grocery, health/beauty, office supplies, and pharmaceuticals. The goal of the study is to provide an evidence-based approach to incorporate the customer’s perspective in strategic planning and execution for retailers. “The report confirms that consumers are rapidly transitioning their holiday shopping from brick-and-mortar stores to online purchasing. The findings should guide retailers to invest in omnichannel capabilities, such as in-store apps, social media platforms, and efficient product search,” added Sridhar.

This is the first of five planned trend reports based on the survey. On April 11, 2018, the Center for Retailing Studies will host a half-day seminar in Houston for business executives to explore the findings in-depth.

The research team for the Benchmark Retail Study includes Vikas Mittal and Kyuhong Han at Rice University along with Biwong Im, a doctoral student at Texas A&M.

For more information, contact:
Kelli Hollinger, Director, Center for Retailing Studies
khollinger@tamu.edu; 979-845-5898

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Research, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) at Mays Business School welcomed new CRS board member and partner Jeff Mooney to campus on November 15. Mooney serves as Divisional Vice President for Dollar General, overseeing 1,800 stores in Texas and Oklahoma.

Speaking to students in three marketing classes and the Student Retailing Association, Mooney highlighted Dollar General’s rapid expansion, impressive shareholder returns, and humble company culture.

Dollar General is ranked #128 on Fortune 500, with 127,000 employees in over 14,000 stores across the U.S. Mooney’s territory alone recorded sales exceeding $2 billion. Dollar General has more stores nation-wide than any retailer outside of the food industry. In an era of store closure, Dollar General accounts for 80 percent of net new store openings in the U.S. since 2008.

Because of this growth and strong brand, Mooney stated “We cannot hire enough talent, we have to grow it.” Texas A&M is the first university to partner with the Nashville based retailer to launch an accelerated district manager career program. Recent graduates would start as store managers and progress to district supervisors with responsibility for 18 stores averaging $30 million in sales within two years.

To take care of its customers, Dollar General takes care of its employees. “The customer experience will never be better than the employee experience,” Mooney explained. Dollar General’s friendly employees are willing to make things more efficient for the customer. According to Mooney, it is easier to teach skills than to teach others how to connect with people.

Mooney also emphasized Dollar General’s culture of serving others. The company understands its customers, who are largely value-conscious consumers living paycheck to paycheck. Many rely on government assistance. He pointed out that delivering on the promise to serve others is crucial.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Store brands, often called “own brands,” have certainly come into their own. Some retailers, like Trader Joe’s, almost exclusively sell private label products. Overall, this category of manufactured goods represents about 20 percent of all products sold at grocery, drug chain, and mass merchant stores. Yielding a higher margin compared to national brands, like Tide or Doritos, the industry is poised only to grow and offer lesser-known, but highly successful, career paths.

In November, seven Texas A&M University students became the first Aggies to attend the Private Label Trade Show and University Outreach program in Chicago. The event attracts 2,800 booths exhibitors from 70 countries with over 5,000 buyers and visitors’ eager to discover innovative new products catering to modern consumer taste pallets, from organic spices, gourmet baked cheeses, to mango Sriracha beef jerky. Some of the attendees included companies partnered with the Center for Retailing Studies in Mays Business School.

Supply chain major and M.B. Zale Leadership Scholar Allison McGraw ’18 said, “I loved this experience! The opportunity to shadow a supplier on day one and then a retailer on day two allowed me to build a more complete understanding of the grocery business.” McGraw will intern next summer with PepsiCo/Frito Lay.

…Read more

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

App acts as social media address book

Mays Business School’s focus on the entrepreneurial mindset is personified in the success of Mays marketing senior Dylan Secrest ’17, the CEO and creator of SyncLink.

Dylan SecrestSyncLink is a new iPhone application that allows users to consolidate friends on all social media platforms, as well as store other forms of contact information, in one place. His vision was to “simplify the way the world connects, and essentially create a social media address book.”

Once a user has downloaded the app and created an account, he can sync social media profiles onto the SyncLink account and share it with the world. From there, the user can connect with other SyncLink users on social media with the click of a button.

Secrest has released the app locally, and has garnered more than 400 users and plans to expand further. He and his business partners – Noah Kaplan of Cornell University and Jay Dickey ’17, who graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in political science and is now a prospective law student – recently joined Startup Aggieland, a business incubator on campus. They are working with several entrepreneurs-in-residence and software mentors, and have applied to MassChallenge Texas.

…Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Startup Aggieland, Students, Texas A&M

Mays Business School senior Leslie Bonorden was selected to compete for a National Merit Scholarship after winning a $5,000 Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) during the first round of the advanced retail case study. Only one student from each university could be submitted to compete for the next round of scholarships, and Bonorden’s work proved to be Texas A&M University’s best.

In the first round of the competition, competing students evaluated the recent partnership with Etsy, an online marketplace for buying and selling unique goods, and Macy’s, the 159-year-old retail chain. Students were asked to (1) identify the end-use customer the collaboration should target and (2) identify Etsy sellers who would create the most demand. They also developed a marketing campaign and six-month financial plan for The Etsy Shop. Each winner received a $5,000 scholarship. Eight Mays students were named 2017 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund Recipients, including Bonorden, winning a total of $40,000 in scholarships.

Out of the eight scholarship recipients, she was chosen to compete for scholarships that were as high as $35,000 in the next round of the competition. She worked on the case study throughout the summer while doing an internship with Kohl’s.

Only eight finalists out of all the universities across the nation were selected, and although Bonorden was not selected as a finalist, the process was a great learning experience for her. She said that this project “taught [her] how to clearly communicate [her] thoughts and ideas in a fun and creative way,” and it also taught her that if she works hard at anything, she will be proud no matter what the result.

Cheryl Bridges, a professor of marketing at Mays, teaches the Advanced Retail Case Study course. She said she could not be prouder of Bonorden’s work, and how well she represented Mays Business School and Texas A&M in this highly competitive national competition. “When Leslie won the first-round scholarship last year, the Fashion Scholarship Fund Organization selected her paper as an example of a perfect one,” said Bridges. “I think this is a really good story about how our business school students compete and represent us so well in the fashion and retailing industries.”

Categories: Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

David Williams ’79, Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO of Noble Corporation PLC, kicked off the Mays Transformational Leaders Speaker Series with an overview of his industry and some advice for Aggies. He spoke to MBA students, undergraduate students, and faculty and staff members.

Mays Dean Eli Jones said when introducing Williams that he was a good fit for the series. “A Mays transformational leader is someone who has an ethical mindset, a global mindset, is analytical, and has the ability to embrace change and to try new things,” he said. “That’s what you are, Mays students, and that’s what Mr. Williams is. He is one of us.”

Williams obtained his bachelor’s degree in marketing at Texas A&M University. He was selected one of Mays’ Outstanding Alumni in 2009 for his career achievements, as well as his service and dedication to Texas A&M. His first job out of college was in a shipyard in 1979, and he has been in the offshore drilling service industry since 1981.

“I have traveled just about everywhere except Antarctica, and I wouldn’t trade my job for anything,” Williams said.  “It’s hard sometimes, it’s volatile sometimes and our work is complex, but our business model is really pretty simple:  We punch holes in the ground for money – that’s it. Our oil company clients hire us to drill wells below the oceans of the world for a fee.” …Read more

Categories: Alumni, Dean Eli Jones, Energy, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M

Eleven M.B. Zale Leadership Scholars traveled to the Houston headquarters of francesca’s® on Oct. 27 to learn about the company first-hand and further solidify the school’s partnership with the company.

President and CEO Steve Lawrence kicked off the morning. He explained the launch of francesca’s® in 1999 as a single boutique store in Houston, and its rapid rise to becoming a publicly traded company in 2012. Today the fashion chain operates 670 boutiques in 48 states across the country.

Lawrence also talked about the company’s decision to move its headquarters to an industrial park. Every department operates in one building, including its distribution center. He added that having everyone at the same location made it much simpler to work collaboratively, access samples, and troubleshoot problems.

Gift, home & beauty Senior Buyer Sadie Price addressed common misconceptions on what people typically think a buyer’s role is. It is not easy or glamorous as portrayed on television, and not about free merchandise or runway shows. “Success as a buyer requires loving product, creativity, innovation, data analysis, trend research, and thinking outside the box,” Price explained. She praised francesca’s® work culture, adding that it supports career growth and provides a fun environment. Employees can wear jeans every day and workout clothes a couple times a week.

The group also heard from Katelin Pollock, Manager of Visual, at francesca’s®. The company recently rolled out updates to brighten stores, highlight merchandise, increase capacity, and enhance window presentations. Pollock pointed out that 53 percent of francesca’s® traffic comes from walk-by onlookers attracted by each boutique’s visual appeal. She also explained how they have personalized boutiques to better fit their local region. For example, stores in Texas carry more artwork emphasizing the state of Texas, and the College Station store features maroon merchandise during football season.

Senior Planner Maurizio Menchaca ’09, EVP, eCommerce/CMO Erik Lautier, EVP – Chief Boutiques Officer David Minnix, and Senior Director of Real Estate Michael Stanley also addressed the group.

After hearing from each department, the students participated in a facilities tour of francesca’s®. They saw the warehouse, distribution center, in-house marketing, and photography studio. SVP of Supply Chain Ray Birden and Senior Buyer Cassie Schirra led the tour. Birden described how the warehouse can package all of the materials needed to open a new store into a single trailer, from flooring, chandeliers, dressing rooms, and more. The students also observed the process for online order fulfillment and store replenishment shipments.

Mays Business School is francesca’s® top collegiate partner in hiring. Two of the three interns last year were Aggies, and all interns will join francesca’s® after graduation. Unlike many brick-and-mortar retailers, francesca’s® is growing – and rich with career opportunities for students.

Senior marketing major and Zale Scholar Aricka Anderson ’18 added, “Opportunities like these can be rare to come by for students, and francesca’s® truly gave me an authentic preview of a day-in-the-life working for one of our nation’s top retailers!”

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School recognized two graduates – Kathleen Seiders ’95 and Wei Shen ’99 – with the Outstanding Doctoral Alumni Award. This award highlights former students who have achieved significant distinction in their academic field. The pair were honored during an awards presentation and reception on September 29.

“Kathleen and Wei are indicative of the high quality of individuals enrolled in our doctoral programs as well as the commitment that our faculty makes to help our students succeed,” said Mays Dean Eli Jones ’82, who received the honor in 2009. “Our doctoral candidates graduate with a deep knowledge of their subject area, a desire to expand the understanding in their field of research, and a commitment to educating future generations of students.”

Criteria for Mays’ Outstanding Doctoral Alumni include: sustained research productivity and visibility in the field; service to the profession as editor of a major scholarly journal; recipient of major awards for excellence in research, teaching and/or service; academic and administrative leadership; successful career progression at a peer or aspirational school; and holder of an endowed position. …Read more

Categories: Alumni, Departments, Former Students, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Ph.D., Programs, Texas A&M

The Texas A&M University Center for Retailing Studies will host its annual Retailing Summit on Oct. 12-13 at the Westin Galleria in Dallas.

Since its launch in 1985, the Retailing Summit has provided inspiring, original, content for retail executives. Hundreds of business leaders throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico attend the event.

“Most retailers can no longer differentiate on product or price alone. Experiences play a central role in brand perception,” says Kelli Hollinger, Director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School. “The Retailing Summit’s speakers will address how their companies deliver engaging experiences successfully across both the physical and digital worlds to excite customers and drive sales.”

The 2017 Retailing Summit will include appearances from two CEO’s, two of America’s top five retail firms by sales volume, several top 100 retailers, and other beloved brands.

A new and exciting addition to this year’s conference features a session with founders from four start-up companies launched by current and former Texas A&M students. The presentations showcase Texas A&M and its students as sources of technical innovation and new consumer brands in the retailing industry. The start-ups include AI technology, a grocery app, a nutrition snack, and an apparel line.

This year’s conference speakers include:

Crayola – Victoria Lozano, SVP & GM, Attractions & Retail
Zoës Kitchen – Kevin Miles, CEO
Dollar General – Steve Sunderland, SVP – Store Operations
Indochino – Drew Green, CEO
Walgreens – Kenya Jackson, Corporate Vice President
The Home Depot – William Bonnell, Senior Director of Site Reliability Engineering

“The disruption in retail justifies investing time away from the office to learn. The conference agenda is packed with insights valuable to traditional retailers and suppliers alike,” Hollinger adds.

Proceeds from the Retailing Summit support leadership programs and curriculum for students pursuing retail studies at Mays Business School.

Conference sponsors include Academy Sports + Outdoors, Alliance Data, BDO, brierley + partners, NectarOM, Protivix, REVTECH, ROOT, Shell, and Texas Retailers Association.

For further information on how to register for the 2017 Retailing Summit, visit retailingsummit.org.

 

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

The Survey of Marketing class (Marketing 621) taught by Professor Paul Busch recently welcomed guest speakers Dallas Shipp ’03 and Nicole Morten Lamb. Shipp runs a marketing strategy company called 6 Shooter Marketing and Lamb owns the video production company Water to Wine Productions.

The class focuses on developing marketing strategies including product, pricing, distribution, and promotion decisions. The pair’s presentation connected those principles by speaking on the “Power of Video.”

Shipp and Lamb reinforced the idea that even though facts are important, the emotion and storytelling behind marketing can sometimes leave a more lasting impression. Shipp introduced students to the idea that people want to do business with companies they feel connected to. Through marketing strategies, including video, you can relay emotion, explain difficult concepts, and make a connection with an audience, creating that vital relationship.  His simple mantra “facts tell, and stories sell” summarizes that idea. As for videos specifically, he emphasized the importance of quality video advertisement by sharing that use of an effective embedded video typically increases customer conversion by 80 percent.

Lamb focused on how to go about telling your story. She creates video projects for weddings, businesses, social media, and for clients in many different industries. Her passion resides with storytelling and bringing her clients vision’s to life. Understanding that so much work goes into creating a business, her hope is to communicate that idea and the finished result through professional, creative, and engaging videos. Lamb showed students a few videos she had produced advertising for businesses in Downtown Brenham.

Students were also shown the current and typical written information found on the Brenham website. When asked to compare the two, students instantly felt more connected to the experiences and emotion depicted the video instead of the written advertisements. This demonstration proved that it is possible to be informative and get the point across without sacrificing creativity and connection.

Their approach to marketing and advertising disproves the idea that there is only “one silver bullet for marketing success.” They encouraged focusing on constructing the right combination of practices to achieve the best marketing strategy for each client.

Categories: Alumni, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Students, Texas A&M