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

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

The Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University will host the 20th annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series at 12:40 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9.

The lecture will follow a presentation of the M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Award to 2018 honoree Arch “Beaver” Aplin III ’80, president and founder of Lake Jackson-based Buc-ee’s stores.

After earning his degree from Texas A&M in 1980, Aplin opened his first Buc-ee’s in 1982. His intention was to build the Buc-ee’s brand methodically, with a goal to become the best convenience store available for service and selection. Today, Buc-ee’s enjoys a cult-like following of enthusiastic customers who make stopping for Beaver Nuggets and clean restrooms part of the family vacation.

In an era when many retailers are closing stores, Buc-ee’s is expanding beyond its Texas footprint into Alabama and Florida. Its enormous “travel centers” near 70,000 square feet, dwarfing typical 3,000-square-foot convenience stores.

The M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series, held at Mays Business School, highlights the role of innovation in the success of retail businesses.

Established in 1998, this annual lecture series honors creative merchandising in today’s marketplace. The series also serves to recognize the late M.B. Zale as a legendary retailer, a visionary businessman and esteemed philanthropist.

The speaker chosen to present this lecture epitomizes the leadership, service philosophy and creativity demonstrated by M.B. Zale.

Past honorees include Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear; Blake Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom; Karen Katz, former president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Group; and Rodney Faldyn ’88, former CEO and president of Academy Sports + Outdoors.

The event is open to the public.
RSVP: crs@mays.tamu.edu

For media inquiries, contact avernon@mays.tamu.edu.

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

The Center for International Business Studies (CIBS) at Mays Business School has been awarded a four-year federal grant totaling $1.23 million. The U.S. Department of Education awards the funds as part of its Center for International Business Education (CIBE) program. The grant commences on Oct. 1 and will cover the 2018-22 period.

Mays was among the 15 high-impact business schools in the country – and the only one in Texas – to be awarded the grant out of some 50 applicants. CIBS has successfully competed nationally for the four-year award since 1990.

…Read more

Categories: Center for Business International Studies, Centers, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and health and well-being company Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) are launching the Humana-Mays Health Care Analytics 2018 Case Competition to showcase students’ analytical abilities to solve a real-world business problem. The case competition is open to all accredited colleges in the United States.

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 are eligible to enter. Students are invited to join in groups of two to three students—from the same school—to tackle a real-world case that will be announced in September. …Read more

Categories: Dean Eli Jones, Former Students, Health Care, Mays Business, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

If you entered the Grand Stafford Theater on the evening of August 13, you would have been surrounded by some of the biggest proponents of entrepreneurship in Bryan/College Station. Business owners, Texas A&M University faculty, and members of local agencies such as the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation came together around one common interest: Startup Aggieland.

The McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the Startup Aggieland Reveal Party after hinting that those in attendance would have a chance to “meet the new Startup Aggieland.” Attendees were treated to canapés provided by Chef Tai Lee and enjoyed the industrial-chic atmosphere of the historic downtown Bryan concert venue. Conversations drifted among clusters of attendees, each of them buzzing about what exciting new plans the McFerrin Center had in store for Startup Aggieland. …Read more

Categories: Centers, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Featured Stories, Mays Business, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, News, Spotlights, Staff, Startup Aggieland, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Categories: Alumni, Dean Eli Jones, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Mays Business, Mays Innovation Research Center, McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship, Selfless service, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Janet Parish Headshot

Janet Parish has been honored with a University Professorship for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence (UPUTE) and was recognized as part of the Transformational Teaching and Learning Conference on April 18. She is a clinical professor and associate department head in the Department of Marketing in Mays. In addition, she is the director of the department’s Professional Selling Initiative.

The award is conferred only upon the university’s most distinguished teachers of undergraduates. The faculty members selected to receive past awards have exhibited uncommon excellence and devotion to the education of undergraduate students of Texas A&M University, according to university officials.

“I am very honored by this recognition,” said Parish. “The administrative and service roles in which I serve have given me a great platform to influence undergraduate education outside of my own classrooms.” 

These professors are not only exceptional classroom teachers, but are also innovators in pedagogy, exploring new teaching methods and seeking engagement with other educators in pursuit of excellence.

“Texas A&M University strives to meet our unique mission for Texas by supporting and recognizing our faculty’s outstanding efforts in teaching, research, and service,” said Carol A. Fierke, provost and executive vice president of Texas A&M. “These University Professorships acknowledge the particular expertise these faculty hold in working with our undergraduate students, as they become the future productive citizens of Texas and beyond.”

Yadav Manjit, interim department head of the Department of Marketing, said he is pleased Parish was selected for the award. “Over the years, Dr. Parish has shown considerable leadership in developing initiatives that have significantly impacted undergraduate education in Mays Business School,” he said.

The professorships are made possible through endowments by George and Irma Eppright, and Arthur J. and Wilhelmina Doré Thaman.

About Parish:

Janet Parish is a Clinical Professor and Associate Department Head in the Department of Marketing in Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. In addition, she is the director of the department’s Professional Selling Initiative, which is aimed at creating new opportunities for students in sales-related careers. Parish is a Mays Teaching Fellow and a recipient of the Association of Former Students College-Level Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching and the Mays Business School Faculty Service Excellence Award.

Categories: Alumni, Departments, Faculty, Featured Stories, Marketing, Mays Business, News, Staff, Texas A&M, Uncategorized

Positive economic trends – including lower interest rates, high consumer confidence, and low unemployment at 4.1 percent – continue the encouraging pace as we enter the spring shopping season.

Chocolate bunnies and baskets are just around the corner
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosperity Insights & Analytics, Americans spent a record $18.4 billion on Easter in 2017, an average of $152 per person, with estimates expected to nearly match those numbers this year. Of all planned Easter purchases, 89 percent involve candy. Traditional treats like chocolate bunnies, cream-filled eggs, jellybeans, and marshmallow chicks will continue to top shopping lists.

Toys and crafts are still a hit
There are plenty of basket stuffers for the little ones, and you don’t have to spend much. Discount stores like Dollar General offer a wide variety of Easter gifts. In fact, consumers will look to discount stores more than online or traditional department stores this year. For special surprises, Personal Creations offers customized toys and accessories for your child’s Easter basket. For convenience, Amazon features an assortment of toy-filled plastic eggs in bulk, delivered to your doorstep in two days or less.

Dining
Easter Sunday is a time for gathering with family over a special meal. Shared experiences are highly valued. This year, 60 percent of Americans will visit family and friends, and 58 percent will cook at home. Southern Living and Tablespoon offer a wide variety of recipes, along with special treats for the kids. If you don’t feel like spending time in the kitchen, there are thousands of restaurants with special Easter brunch hours for April 1st.

Passover
The Jewish holiday of Passover will be celebrated from March 30 through April 7. Consumers seeking kosher-friendly items is a major focus this time of year. Not only are kosher foods more easily available today, but they have become increasingly popular because of the high demand for gluten-free and all-natural products. Since 2012, the number of Passover food products has more than doubled to over 53,000. Special culinary creativity is important, since the absence of leavening is a central practice of this tradition. There are numerous Passover recipes and a variety of products ranging from the primary food of matzah to special meats and kosher wines.

Time for home repairs?
Spring is the time of year for consumers to spend more on home improvements and new appliances. The Home Depot and Lowe’s recently announced they would hire around 130,000 temporary workers for the peak season of spring. In addition, Lowe’s also announced that the company will pay employees up to $1,000 in bonuses and expand benefits in 2018 as a result of the recent tax reform.

Goodbye to another historical brand
While the macro-trends for 2018 are positive, Toys “R” Us recently announced the company will close or sell all of its U.S. stores. Liquidation sales have already started. The retailing giant known for the jingle “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid” filed for bankruptcy in late 2017. Declining sales, burdensome debt, and heavy competition from both digital players and big-box stores proved to be too much for the once iconic brand.

“Retailers are still adjusting to changed consumer habits. There will be more store closing this year from retailers who haven’t evolved their business models enough,” says Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School. “But, 2017 predictions of the ‘death of retail’ or the click-bait phrase of ‘retail-apocalypse’ are wrong. Retail is very much alive.”

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

The Center for Retailing Studies (CRS) proudly announces its partnership with the (R)Tech Center for Innovation. Texas A&M becomes one of 10 inaugural affiliate universities to align with the (R)Tech Center, organized by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and create a retail-tech talent pipeline.

RILA is the trade association for America’s largest and most respected retailers, representing more than 200 members. The partnership between Texas A&M and RILA strengthens corporate relationships with current CRS partners like H-E-B and Dollar General, while connecting CRS with other top retailers such as Best Buy, The Home Depot, and Apple.

The (R)Tech Center for Innovation, launched by RILA in 2017, focuses on helping retailers navigate the industry’s transformation through research, innovative technologies, and creating a culture of innovation – exposing retailers to the technologies and innovations driving change in retail.

“For 35 years, Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School has promoted retailing as an aspirational career choice. Our graduates possess the business acumen to drive sales at America’s largest companies. The partnership with RILA enhances our ability to train students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and build essential technical skills so they can become transformational leaders in retailing,” said Kelli Hollinger, director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M.

The (R)Tech Talent Pipeline will attract and expose young graduates with tech backgrounds to opportunities in the industry, helping shape a 21st-century retail workforce as retailers continue to innovate.

“We are excited to bring innovation to the forefront of retail and provide a test bed for new concepts, technologies, and user experiences. Supported by strong research in the area of design, augmented reality and consumer behavior, we expect this will lead to significant new insights into today’s consumer, and what retail of the future will hold,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Hillman was among the Outstanding Doctoral Alumni from Mays Business School in 2008.

Beginning this year, RILA and the (R)Tech Center for Innovation will address the need for recruiting employees with technical skills in three phases. Phase one will focus on four strategies that initiate the talent pipeline: hosting hackathons that expose students to retail challenges, facilitating a global case competition for creative student ideas, creating multi-use experimental stores with physical locations on select campuses, and launching an online certification specifically for mid-to-senior-level retail executives to educate them on innovative trends. Phases two and three will involve a program to recruit new talent into the industry and help retailers build tech skills in-house.

For more on this announcement, visit www.rila.org.

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