Lead Story

Get ready for the biggest-ever holiday season retail sales: Walmart and Amazon on steroids

Mays Business School, November 19th, 2018

By Venky Shankar, Coleman Chair Professor & Director of Research, Center for Retailing Studies, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Shoppers and retailers alike should be salivating this holiday season. This season is expected to bring in the biggest holiday retail sales ever at over $1 trillion! From Thanksgiving to Black Friday to Cyber Monday to pre- and post-Christmas, consumers will be shopping from all devices, touchpoints, channels for all kinds of items. Overall sales are expected to grow by 4.4-5.5 percent over last year. However, e-commerce sales may grow by a whopping 17-22 percent, topping $130 billion this season. The season looks like a case of Walmart and Amazon steroids!

How is this happening? The economy is good. Jobless rate is really low. Wages are up. Taxpayers will pay at lower tax rates for this calendar year. Importantly, consumers perceive they have more money to spend! For the first time, average spending per person may exceed $1,000 this season.

The upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday may make up for 30 percent of annual retail sales. This year, it could be the biggest ever. With 165 million people shopping, more retailers are starting Black Friday season early. Cyber Monday will last longer, and retailers will try to cash in on 24 x 7 consumer convenience. The Thanksgiving weekend is emerging as an extended period of shopping, eclipsing single day focus on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. …Read more

On a Saturday morning, during their 9 a.m. classes, students from the Professional MBA Classes of 2019 and 2020 were prepared to debrief a typical case assignment for their respective accounting course. The class of 2019 was in Mary Lea McAnally’s Financial Accounting course, and the class of 2020 was in Mike Kinney’s Managerial Accounting course. Both cohorts thought this would be a typical class discussion.

Moments into each separate class, the respective faculty announced that the student teams in both classes had a good start analyzing the case – but were incomplete in their analysis. McAnally told her Financial Accounting students, “To understand the complete picture of this company, the results they’ve generated, and the options in front of them, your team needs information from the managerial accounting team in Kinney’s class next door.” Kinney simultaneously announced to his Managerial Accounting teams that they needed to immediately partner with teams from financial accounting to complete a full analysis and generate valid recommendations.

The faculty said, “go,” and the teams from each class paired to complete a new “Combined Case” assignment in 90 minutes. After the 90 minutes, the combined teams presented their analysis and recommendations to a group of faculty who were assuming the role of the case company’s board of directors.

…Read more

Categories: Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, MBA, News, Programs, Spotlights, Texas A&M

In 2017, the average Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopper spent just over $400 purchasing gifts online for the holiday season. Cyber Monday alone broke a record with $6.59 billion in online sales.  At the same time, the average online gift to a nonprofit organization has remained steady at just over $100. In response to this difference, Giving Tuesday was established as an international day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

Giving Tuesday is a valuable opportunity for individuals and nonprofits to come together under the banner of generosity and philanthropy. On November 27th, people will make decisions, both large and small, to impact their communities. It is a powerful reminder that small acts of generosity can add up to significant change. The numbers provided above often make us think that generosity and philanthropy are words retained for the Bill Gates and Warren Buffets of the world. However, generosity can, and likely will, begin in smaller increments.

…Read more

Categories: Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Programs, Selfless service, Staff, Texas A&M

By Venky Shankar, Coleman Chair Professor & Director of Research, Center for Retailing Studies, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Shoppers and retailers alike should be salivating this holiday season. This season is expected to bring in the biggest holiday retail sales ever at over $1 trillion! From Thanksgiving to Black Friday to Cyber Monday to pre- and post-Christmas, consumers will be shopping from all devices, touchpoints, channels for all kinds of items. Overall sales are expected to grow by 4.4-5.5 percent over last year. However, e-commerce sales may grow by a whopping 17-22 percent, topping $130 billion this season. The season looks like a case of Walmart and Amazon steroids!

How is this happening? The economy is good. Jobless rate is really low. Wages are up. Taxpayers will pay at lower tax rates for this calendar year. Importantly, consumers perceive they have more money to spend! For the first time, average spending per person may exceed $1,000 this season.

The upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday may make up for 30 percent of annual retail sales. This year, it could be the biggest ever. With 165 million people shopping, more retailers are starting Black Friday season early. Cyber Monday will last longer, and retailers will try to cash in on 24 x 7 consumer convenience. The Thanksgiving weekend is emerging as an extended period of shopping, eclipsing single day focus on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. …Read more

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Faculty, Featured Stories, Jobs, Mays Business, Texas A&M

For the second year in a row, students from Mays Business School joined undergraduates from 20 colleges across the U.S. to participate in the University Student Outreach Program and Trade Show in Chicago, hosted by PLMA (Private Label Manufacturers Association).

The PLMA Trade Show highlights innovative private label brands and products from food & beverage, houseware, kitchenware, outdoor living, home & health, and more. More than 1,500 companies from 40 countries showcased their products. Exhibitors ranged from small producers to well-known national brand makers like Aspen Products, Delta Brands, and Jelly Belly who also supply store brands.

Students received hands-on learning experiences about private/store brands, retailers, and manufacturers to bring new products to store shelves. Each student paired with an exhibitor on the trade show floor to observe manufacturers pitching their products to potential buyers.

“The PLMA University Outreach Program was one of the most incredible and invaluable learning opportunities I’ve received in my education,” explained marketing major LeAnn Percivill `21. “I learned about global industry trends, how grocery retailers are staying competitive, and personal stories of triumph and success in the private label food industry. This gave me the opportunity to connect with suppliers and buyers from all over the world, from small pasta suppliers in Italy to large cookie suppliers in Canada.”

Mays participants received mentorship from industry leaders including: Deborah Ginsburg – CEO of Strategia Design, Peggy Davies – Vice President Association Relations at PLMA, Sam Mayberry – COO of Food Lifeline, John Evans – Director of Private Brands for Weis Markets, and Judy Clark – Senior Vice President of Sales for TreeHouse Foods. Educational sessions included topics on building a career, the role of store brands, eCommerce in today’s retail industry, along perspectives from retailers and manufacturers.

Jody Hall, Director of Resourcing, and Rovey Gutierrez, Global Resourcing Manager, from Center for Retailing Studies corporate partner H-E-B also provided mentoring opportunities for Radney and Percivill.

“I had the honor of shadowing H-E-B buyer, Rovey Gutierrez, while he was searching for water bottles to be sold under the H-E-B Hill Country Fare brand. He carefully explained the role of the manufacturer,” said marketing major Katherine Radney `18. “Rovey and his colleague, Jody Hall, set an amazing example with vendor relations. They both approached each of these manufacturer relationships with the utmost respect, doing business in a kind way that clearly makes the industry and world a better place.”

Students also attended the annual meeting for WISE (Women Impacting Store Brands Excellence), an independent non-profit professional development organization that promotes diversity and inclusion in the private label industry.

“This program offered me lifelong connections, wisdom, and inspiration and I can never thank the program or the Center for Retailing Studies and PLMA enough for the fantastic opportunity,” Percivill added.

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

Texas A&M’s team of four students was named as one of the nine regional winners of the Deloitte FanTAXtic, a tax case study competition. More than 60 teams representing more than 40 colleges and universities participated in the regional event from Nov. 9-10, held at Deloitte offices across the U.S.

Sophomores Courtney Jackson and Luke Kaminski , Junior Jeffery Quinn, and Senior Jacob Billings made up the regional winning team.

The team demonstrated the ability to work collaboratively to solve a complex business case simulation. They were also recognized for the quality of their overall presentation to a panel of live and virtual judges.

On Jan. 18-20, the Texas A&M team will compete for more than $50,000 in individual scholarships and institutional awards at the Deloitte FanTAXtic national competition. The competition will take place at Deloitte University, Deloitte’s national learning and leadership development center near Dallas, Texas.

About the Competition

Sponsored by Deloitte Tax LLP and supported by the Deloitte Foundation, Deloitte FanTAXtic is designed to educate and prepare the next generation of tax talent for a career in business and tax. The interactive program includes case simulation, role-playing, and presentations which provide students with insights and perspectives on challenges facing the profession today, future trends that may impact it tomorrow, and the overall changing business tax marketplace. Deloitte Tax LLP professionals participate in the event and offer the students support and guidance throughout the competition.

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

The student team of Edward Cho, Lianne Ho, and David Sung from the University of Southern California has won the $20,000 First Place prize in the Humana-Mays Health Care Analytics 2018 Case Competition sponsored by health and well-being company Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) and Mays Business School at Texas A&M University.

Nearly 700 master’s-level students representing 246 teams from 42 major universities in the U.S. registered for the national competition to compete for $35,000 in prizes. Students enrolled full-time in accredited Master of Science, Master of Arts, Master of Information Systems, Master of Public Health, or Master of Business Administration programs at an educational institution based in the United States were eligible to enter.

Cho, Ho, and Sung received the top prize following a presentation on Nov. 14 to an executive panel of judges at Texas A&M’s Mays Business School’s CityCentre Houston location.

The Second Place prize of $10,000 was awarded to Hanyin Nifrom, Uyanga (Melody) Sumiya, and Qi Xu from Bentley University, while the Third Place prize of $5,000 was presented to Kyle Cross, Ming-Hsin Li, and Efrat Mordechay from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Mays Business School is pleased to partner with Humana to bring together the brightest graduate students in the country to innovate using data analytics to solve a real-world business problem in health care, one of the three Grand Challenge areas of Mays Business School,” says Arvind Mahajan, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs at Mays Business School.

The analytics case received by the students was designed to be multi-faceted and complex, similar to a real-world business problem. The students were asked to predict the likelihood of a patient having a heart attack within the next three months using data collected from the previous year. Students had to evaluate more than 400 variables, including age of the patient, sex, geography, and other medical conditions.

“Being new to the health care industry myself, I was impressed with the expertise and professionalism of the students during the competition. We hope that our scenario encourages them to continue learning and growing their analytical skills. It is through creative, passionate people that we will be able to deliver high-quality care for generations to come,” said Heather Cox, Chief Digital Health and Analytics Officer for Humana.

The teams were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Ability to establish key performance indicators aligned to business needs
  • Quantitative analysis identifying key business insights
  • Ability to provide unique insights for business improvements
  • Professionalism and visualization skills

Participation in the Humana-Mays Health Care Analytics 2018 Case Competition represents a 132 percent growth over the inaugural 2017 competition, where more than 300 master’s degree candidates representing 109 teams from 19 major universities in the U.S. registered for the competition. Students Hongxia Shi, Shenyang Yang, and Xiangyi Che from Purdue University received the top prize.

About Texas A&M’s Mays Business School

Mays is a full-service business school that steps up to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,404 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its programs and for faculty research

About Humana

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is committed to helping our millions of medical and specialty members achieve their best health. Our successful history in care delivery and health plan administration is helping us create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Our efforts are leading to a better quality of life for people with Medicare, families, individuals, military service personnel, and communities at large.

To accomplish that, we support physicians and other health care professionals as they work to deliver the right care in the right place for their patients, our members. Our range of clinical capabilities, resources and tools – such as in-home care, behavioral health, pharmacy services, data analytics and wellness solutions – combine to produce a simplified experience that makes health care easier to navigate and more effective.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at www.humana.com, including copies of:

  • Annual reports to stockholders
  • Securities and Exchange Commission filings
  • Most recent investor conference presentations
  • Quarterly earnings news releases and conference calls
  • Calendar of events
  • Corporate Governance information

Categories: Featured Stories, Health Care, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, Students, Texas A&M

In a nationwide search, Texas A&M University has been ranked as a top university for graduate and undergraduate students interested in entrepreneurship. It was part of the Princeton Review Top Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Programs 2019.

Coming in at #22, Texas A&M boasts a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Startup Aggieland, Blackstone Launchpad, and the Texas A&M I-School.

More than 300 schools reported data about their entrepreneurship offerings and rankings are based on entrepreneurial curriculum, student, faculty and staff entrepreneurial ventures, extracurricular offerings, and scholarships and aid provided to students pursuing entrepreneurship.

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

By Audrey Adkins ’18, Business Honors

The pursuit of challenging experiences and an unwillingness to condone complacency are key factors contributing to Raja Akram’s success in life. His professional experience in the financial services industry provided a powerful message on the significance of seeking challenge and maintaining focus on long-term ambitions. These factors are important to consider throughout the lifetime of a career.

Akram ’95 (finance) and ’97 (PPA), Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of Citigroup, spoke Nov. 9 with a group of Business Honors students. He shared a number of stories and formative experiences from his career.

He encouraged students to pursue opportunities that promote growth and learning. In his career, growth was often the product of his willingness to work through challenging circumstances. When faced with challenging circumstances, Akram advised students to “focus on being solution providers.” He stated that value creation often comes in the form of solution creation, rather than problem analysis. …Read more

Categories: Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Mays Business, Students, Texas A&M

Sometimes brilliance in marketing and merchandising takes the shape of a beaver. Texas travelers know when they see billboards with quirky slogans telling them to “Buc-ee’s or Bust!” that clean restrooms, beef jerky, 79-cent fountain drinks, and beaver nuggets soon await them.

Arch “Beaver” Aplin ‘80, the co-founder and current president of Buc-ee’s spoke to almost 400 students, faculty, staff and local business leaders as part of the 20th annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series hosted by the Center for Retailing Studies. To excel in this industry, Aplin said, “I must exceed the customer’s expectations.” Buc-ee’s differentiates itself from the general convenience store category by building enormous “travel centers.”

The recently opened Katy store boasts 53,000 square feet of retail space stocked with interesting one-of-a-kind items, like pickled jalapenos. Typical convenience locations are about 3,000 square feet.

Aplin says Buc-ee’s is “always looking for products that get customers exclaiming ‘whoa, who would have thought they carried that!’” …Read more

Categories: Alumni, Entrepreneurship, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, Texas A&M

Returns are typically viewed as costly and problematic for retailers, particularly with shoppers who abuse return policies. But can legitimate returns be used as a way to build stronger relationships with customers and increase profits?

Professor James Abbey, in conjunction with Michael Ketzenberg and Rich Metters in the Department of Information and Operations Management at Mays Business School, highlight this concept in their recent MIT Sloan Management Review Article, “A More Profitable Approach to Product Returns.”

According to Abbey and colleagues, retailers are missing out on a large group of consumers who never make a return when they find a product unsatisfactory. These, often, one-time purchasers simply never return in every sense: no future purchases and no returned products. Using recent advancements in data analytics, the research team discovered that retailers can use legitimate returns as a profitable marketing tool to better meet the needs of these unsatisfied shoppers.

“Roughly 50 percent of customers never make a return. We refer to them as ‘non-returners.’ They make a couple of transactions, then poof – they’re gone. It’s as if they never existed, but you don’t want to lose these customers,” explained Abbey. “What we’re learning is they’re finding a flaw with the product or they don’t like something about it. Yet, these customers never give the retailer a chance to provide a better option.”

The researchers pose the question: What if companies took these dissatisfied non-returners who walk out the door, and convinced them to become occasional returners who continually come back as regular customers?

“A customer is someone who makes repeated purchases. They are the lifeblood of any business. Retailers incur substantial acquisition costs to attract new purchasers. One-time buyers may often cost the retailer more than they make from the sale,” added Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University.

Abbey’s team suggests that retailers look at non-returners as an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell a product to better meet the customer’s needs, which can lead to an increase in customer satisfaction and retailer profitability. In effect, focus on building a long-term relationship using returns as a selling tool.

“The people who never make the returns provide only a small fraction of the profit compared to customers making frequent returns. If you could find a way to create more loyalty and build a stronger relationship to get them to try more products, you can train these customers to be occasional returners,” Abbey noted.

“The question we’re really posing is not that continual abusive returners aren’t a problem. On the contrary, such abuse can cost millions of dollars per year. Rather, we’re thinking of how to re-engage with customers who don’t make returns. Retailers need to entice them to come back,” Abbey explained.

In order to convince these shoppers to come back, retailers need to understand their consumers. Abbey’s team advocates that data collection and analysis of transaction patterns of shoppers can be valuable tools in figuring out a path to draw these customers back. These factors could include more competitive pricing, targeted incentives, easier return options, or availability of complementary products.

“It’s really gotten easier to understand a customer, to understand their patterns, and understand what it means to get them back in the store,” said Abbey. “If a person truly does not return products and you see this in their pattern, and you can say hey, look if you waive your right to return, we’ll go ahead and give you an extra 10 percent off. This technique is already in action at WalMart’s online portal Jet.com.”

For some non-returners, such a discount could build loyalty because it rewards their preference to avoid returning items.

“In the end, the vast majority of customers who make returns are significantly profitable. In fact, the data shows that customers making sizable returns generate the greatest profit,” Abbey concluded. “Instead of considering all returns as a failure or undesirable outcome, there’s an opportunity to tailor your return options for customer’s needs as a means to form a long-term, profitable relationship.”

ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL

At Mays Business School, we step up to advance the world’s prosperity. Our mission is to be a vibrant learning organization that creates impactful knowledge and develops transformational leaders. Mays Business School educates more than 6,400 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its programs and for faculty research.

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