Academic Program

Retail Supply Chain Management Concentration Overview

The Retail Supply Chain Management Concentration prepares students for a variety of careers within the consumer supply chain:

  • Retailing
  • Marketing
  • Supply chain management
  • Franchising
  • Brand management
  • Marketing research/data analysis
  • Family businesses in retailing
  • Selling to retailers

The Retail Supply Chain Management requires a minimum of 16 credits consisting of 2 required courses (Retailing Management and Supply Chain Management, 4 credits each) and 2 elective courses (4 credits each). There is a choice of 13 elective courses from which students can choose. Below are suggested choices for a specific career path within this concentration. If you would like to define your own career path, we can consult with you to choose the most appropriate courses.

Retail Supply Chain Management Careers

Retail Supply Chain Management is designed to prepare students who are interested in a career in retailing, supply chain management, brand management, marketing research/data mining, or family businesses in retailing, franchising, or selling to retailers.

Retailing

The typical career paths in retailing are merchandising (buying) and store operations (store management). Some firms hire our students specifically for buying positions, while others in store operations. Many firms require students to transfer from buying to stores and back to gain a breadth of experience.

Merchandising. Students going into merchandising typically start as an assistant buyer, while others are merchandise analysts. The assistant buyers work with buyers to select merchandise. Merchandise analysts are involved in the more analytical issues of determining how much of which types of merchandise goes to certain stores. As one goes up the retailing organization, buyers become merchandise managers who have several buyers reporting to them. Merchandise analysts may either supervise other analysts, or move into buying and merchandise managers positions.

Store operations. Students going into store operations typically start as either a department manager, or an assistant store manager, depending on the size and type of store. Since store operations managers are responsible for the successful running of a store, their primary responsibilities include the management of salespeople and staff, merchandising (making sure the merchandise is properly placed in the store and adequately replenished), and other general management issues. As store managers move up the retailing organization, they become district and then regional managers.

Supply Chain Management

A typical career path is difficult to map for supply chain management simply because it is so interdisciplinary and many firms have blurred responsibilities and lack specific titles. Supply chain management is involved in every aspect of getting products to customers, from cradle to grave. In most firms, a career will progress as students gain experience in both analyst type positions (where they are responsible for IT, process analysis or decision analysis) and line positions (where they are responsible for managing or coordinating groups of people).

In a manufacturing firm, students could start out in an inventory management or procurement role.

In a logistics firm, students could begin in the transportation department.

In consulting, students could start by assisting companies with software implementation efforts, by analyzing existing supply chains, or developing supply chains for new products or new customers.

Brand Management

The typical career path in Brand Management gives the student a wide variety of experiences in all phases of marketing. The new hire works within a "Brand Group" of 3-5 professionals and focuses on all aspects of building a brand's business over time. Emphasis is on strategic direction/positioning of the brand for long-term viability. Individual marketing strategies are then developed to maximize market penetration ... i.e., increase sales, margin, market share and bottom-line profit. The new hire helps to develop and implement specific plans in the areas of target market identification, product design and development, distribution opportunities, advertising and sales promotion programs, pricing determinations, competitive analyses, budgeting, conducting marketing research and participating in market share growth. The career path includes exposure to field sales, working with advertising agencies, market research and sales promotion specialists. As such, the typical Brand Manger is a generalist. He/she is able to bring together all of the specialist areas of R&D, sales management, advertising management, cost analysis, manufacturing issues, purchasing considerations, etc. to build a cohesive growth program for his/her brand. The Brand Manager is accountable for the top and bottom-line growth of his/her product.

Retail Intelligence

The typical career path in retail intelligence will focus on working on the marketing research and/or analytic side of either a retailer, a manufacturer, or a research firm. Most CPG firms use sophisticated scanner or panel data sets provided by firms such as www.infores.com. In addition, most CPG firms and retailers hire marketing analysts to help them gain an understanding the voice of the market. Pragmatic managerial insights into the market research process and the tools and techniques from both the "practitioner" and "user" perspectives are vital. Students working for retailers help them conduct research to develop and implement appropriate marketing strategies. These strategies could involve segmentation, positioning, branding, pricing, multi-channel design, advertising testing, tracking and customer satisfaction measurement and tracking methods. Students with these skills may end up working with marketing research and strategic consulting firms in their retail or CPG practices.

Retail Supply Chain Management Concentration Tracks

The retailers and their suppliers who will be successful in the coming decades will rely on Retail Supply Chain Management. When a retail sale is made, information is transferred to retail corporate offices and onto their suppliers. This information is used to forecast sales, plan purchases and deliveries—to be certain that merchandise is available for customers when they want it, where they want it, and in the quantities that are demanded. Purchase information is also used to design special programs for loyal customers and other promotions. It provides retailers and their suppliers with information about consumer trends and future demand. Students with skills to help retailers achieve their goal of satisfying demand and delighting their customers are highly sought after by recruiters.

The Retail Supply Chain Management concentration is designed to provide students with direction for various career paths:

Corporate Retail Management

This track prepares students to go into executive training programs for major retailers. Managers then specialize in either store operations (management) or merchandising (buying). Recommended for students that wish to work for firms selling merchandise to retailers in either sales or brand management capacities.

Analytical Retail Intelligence

This track prepares students to go into the more analytical side of retailing—marketing research, analyzing sales trends, and using scanner and panel data. This track is recommended for students that wish to work for major retailers, firms that sell data to major retailers (e.g., IRI or Neilsen), retail software providers (e.g., Oracle, SAS), major retail consulting firms.

Retailing for Entrepreneurs

This track prepares students to start their own business or go into an established family business involved in retailing or selling to retailers.

Supply Chain Operations

Retail supply chain management is the management of the flow of goods/services, information and financials from raw materials to the consumer. This track prepares students to work for retailers, their suppliers, or consultants in the areas of buying, transportation, distribution, merchandise allocation, and storage.

Internships in Retailing or Supply Chain Management

The Retail Supply Chain Institute works with the Center for Career Development (CCD) to arrange internships. Students should log into Career Connections to see available internship opportunities. Employers interested in recruiting students for internships should email undergradccd@babson.edu or call 781-239-4215.

Students will find internships in retail and supply chain management by utilizing many of the available search resources such as:

  • E-recruiting (Babson-based software)
  • internshipsearch.com
  • monster.com
  • retailology.com

Students should also search the websites of major brands such as TJX, the Neiman Marcus Group, Target Corporation, and the Walgreen Company. All of these brands and many others generally have a site which explains their internship programs and how to apply to them.

Although retail internships are more plentiful then those in supply chain management, various companies do have opportunities available such as Hormel Corporation, Kraft Foods, Quaker Oats, Raytheon and Sprint. Searching the website of companies such as these will be more beneficial than a general internship search engine.

Student can find other search resources by visiting the career development website.

Students should also think about networking with family, friends, alumni, and faculty members who are close to the fields. One of the ways we encourage students to inquire about an industry is utilizing the alumni network database. Connecting with alumni in the field and acquiring helpful information that could lead to internships yields surprising results.

Lastly, Students who are unable to acquire internships directly in the field may consider other internships that utilize some of the same skills. Good communication and negotiation skills are key for both functions. The ability to see the big picture and take a systems approach to delivering a service or product is essential for potential supply chain managers. Student should be strategic in their internship search and look towards opportunities that will allow them to practice and acquire skills central to a particular function.

Executive Education

The Retail Supply Chain Institute works closely with Babson Executive Education to create custom courses for your firm. The courses can take a broad perspective of retailing or supply chain management, or be very specific, such as data mining, or using scanner data. For more information, please email Director Michael Levy, Ph.D. or call 781-239-5629.

Corporate Engagement

If your firm would like to speak to a class or student organization on campus, please email Director Michael Levy, Ph.D., call 781-239-5629, or call 781-239-4381.