By Venky Shankar

11/11 or November 11 is celebrated as the World’s Singles Day. It is an entertaining event widely popular among Chinese people. November 11 was chosen because it contains multiple instances of the number one that best represents an individual alone. In recent times, it has also become the day with the biggest single day sales. Promoted by giant Chinese e-commerce retailer Alibaba as a mega sales day event, revenues from the Singles Day has grown exponentially from just $100 million in 2009 to $18 billion in 2016. This year, Alibaba’s Singles Day sales are expected to reach $22 billion.

But Alibaba is not alone in this journey. JD.com, its main Chinese online rival, has teamed up with Tencent, another Chinese online behemoth, and Walmart to cash in on the binge buying that takes place that day. Although Alibaba cornered about 71 percent of overall single day revenues last year, its competitors may be able to bite into more of its share this year.

Such is the volume of online sales on Singles Day that it trounces sales done on other mega event days, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day, which are also expected to rise this year. By comparison, Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales totaled $6.8 billion in 2016.

Why is Singles Day important for the future? By 2022, Chinese middle-class shoppers are predicted to surpass U.S. shoppers both in number (550 million vs. 340 million) and spending. Because it is online, Singles Day offers the potential of tapping into global shoppers for maximizing sales revenue for many U.S. retailers as well.

With all these online excitement, where is retail headed? Globally, more commerce is moving rapidly online as shoppers use more of their mobile devices and online channels to browse, compare, click, purchase and return items, and communicate with others and retailers.

That doesn’t mean physical stores are getting irrelevant. True, some of the predominantly brick-and-mortar retailers such as Sears and Macy’s are struggling. However, omnichannel retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy are thriving. Even pure e-commerce retailers such as Amazon are moving offline. Amazon is opening physical bookstores, bought Wholefoods, partnering with Kohl’s to handle product returns, and is testing a new self-scanning and electronic paying store concept called Amazon Go. Even Alibaba has acquired In-Time department stores and has its own experimental He Ma supermarket stores. In addition, it has enabled 100,000 convenience stores to become smart centers. Shoppers want 360-degree access to retail from multiple touchpoints and demand a seamless experience. The retail universe is becoming an increasingly mobile-led omnichannel universe.

Whatever the prediction for the future, one thing is clear: Sales on Singles day is going to get only bigger this year.

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Venky Shankar is the Coleman Chair Professor in Marketing at Mays Business School as well as director of research at Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies. His areas of specialization include digital business, marketing strategy, innovation, retailing, international marketing, and pricing.

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Research, 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

The Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University announces a new partnership with the Texas Retailers Association as a 2017-2018 TREF grantee.

The Texas Retailers Education Foundation (TREF) is the charitable educational foundation of the Texas Retailers Association (TRA). TREF was founded to promote a better-trained workforce in retail, through investment in high school and college education programs that focus on teaching retailing career competencies. Approximately $1.4 million has been awarded from TREF to the Texas Grant Program since 2001.

“Texas A&M University is proud to partner with the Texas Retailers Association. Since opening our doors in 1983, the Center for Retailing Studies’ purpose has been to promote and prepare young people for careers in retailing,” said Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M. “This fully aligns with the Texas Retailers Education Foundation’s mission to provide scholarships and learning opportunities that encourage the next generation of retail professionals in Texas.”

For more than 90 years, TRA has represented retail professionals in Texas, and provided them with a voice in Austin and Washington D.C. TRA has worked to support and protect the concerns of its members through government advocacy, industry information, education programs, and scholarship funds.

Members of TRA include major Texas-based retailers such as H-E-B, JCPenney, and Academy Sports + Outdoors, as well as hundreds of independent jewelry shops, hardware stores, specialty apparel boutiques, booksellers, and more.

As a TREF grantee, Texas A&M becomes the first Tier 1 Research university to partner with TRA.

“Developing transformational leaders to work at companies that drive a robust state economy is central to the public service that a flagship university like Texas A&M provides,” Hollinger added. “The distinction as a Texas Retailer’s Education Foundation recipient university is an honor.”

Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Mays Business, News, Spotlights, 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

Each semester, the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) hosts 15-20 industry leaders for the Executive Professor Speaker Series, designed to connect retail students with working professionals as guest lecturers.

“Visiting executives share their personal experiences with students and promote career opportunities within their companies,” said Lauren Osborne ’05, program manager.

“Hearing first-hand from our speakers is the highest-rated learning experiences by our students as they incorporate what they learn from their coursework.”

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Categories: Center for Retailing Studies, Centers, Executive Speakers, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, Students, Texas A&M

A group of Mays Business School students attended the annual New York City Market Tour, which the Center for Retailing Studies hosts, immersing students in business tours and dynamic cultural experiences they cannot get in Central Texas.

Open to the M.B. Zale Leadership Scholars and members of the Student Retailing Association, this one-of-a-kind spring break travel opportunity provides students aspiring to careers in retail a behind-the-scenes look at some of the world’s greatest brands and retail flagship stores in Manhattan.

“In preparation, I thought about all the different versions of the city that I had seen from sitcoms and movies and had high expectations going in,” said Allison McGraw ’19. “New York blew my expectations out of the park!”

…Read more

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