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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Inspiring innovation

Tucson’s weather provided an ideal setting for the UA’s annual Global Retailing Conference held at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. The Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing drew more than 325 paid attendees along with 165 UA students.

The Lundgren Center attracted well-known senior executives from major retailing companies across the globe including QVC, Airwatch, Bottling Investments Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Crate and Barrel, Acento, Supima Cotton, Brooks Brothers and J.G. Boswell Company.

The conference’s opening keynote speaker, Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive operator of Macy’s Inc., described his aspiration to make the future in-store shopping experience similar to that of online shopping. He outlined the progress of working to bring online shoppers into local stores by focusing on the customers’ specific needs. Macy’s is also developing Quick Response codes for their products that can be scanned with a smartphone. This will open related ‘how to’ online videos.

 

Martha Stewart was also present at the event and gave a speech titled, Designs for Living: Building a Brand at Retail, which covered Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. in association with Home Depot and Macy’s.

 

“”Do we want it,”” Stewart asked. “”If it’s not good enough for ourselves, it’s not good enough for our customers.””

 

Stewart attributes her success not to passion, but to what she called “”HW”” or Hard Work.

 

“”You can have all the passion in the world, but if you’re lazy, forget it,”” Stewart said.

 

Raul Vazquez, the CEO of Walmart, gave his presentation, Multi-Channel Retailing, and said that, “”It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptive to change,”” a quote from Charles Darwin. He recommended students read the book, The Innovators Dilemma, because “”retail requires a good strategic mind and a good analytical mind.””

 

“”Look at Blockbuster and Circuit City,”” he said. “”There are serious consequences if you decide not to innovate, not to change.””

 

Ira Kalish, director of global economics for Deloitte Consulting LLP, explained several ways to maintain a stable retailing industry.

 

“”Having a strong brand name, standing out from your competitors, being the first to do something innovative and keeping a quality customer experience are essential,”” Kalish said.

 

Dana Spaniol, student ambassador chair for the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing, said she enjoyed helping run the event.

 

“”Getting the opportunity as a student to volunteer for this is incredible,”” Spaniol said. “”Students are allowed to network with CEOs and have the option of attending a question and answer discussion with panelists during a private student luncheon.””

 

Susan Lyne, chairman of Gilt Groupe, an online retailer, said that “”just having a store open 24 hours a day is not enough.””

 

“”Consumers are looking for exciting and fresh shopping experiences,”” she said. “”You must give them a reason to come back often. Do not ignore mobility, it is quickly becoming a new retailing channel.””

 

Michael Archbold, the CFO of Vitamin Shoppe stressed the complexities of the retail business.

 

“”Retail is a…fascinating business and is the glue of commerce,”” he said. “”It connects capital markets and consumer markets. One key to being a good retailer is being a good investor.””

 

The conference concluded with a presentation by Tommy Hilfiger, principal designer of Tommy Hilfiger Group. Starting out as a stock boy in a sporting goods store, Hilfiger purchased jeans and bell-bottom pants, which he customized and sold at his first store: The People’s Place. “”I designed what I thought was missing, a cool preppy brand, an all American look,”” Hilfiger said. “”We are always looking for something unique and new to do while still staying true to our roots.””

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