Strategic Planning and Management in Retailing Program runs again at Babson in 2018

The Strategic Planning and Management in Retailing Program was conducted in Wellesley, Massachusetts, at Babson College in September 2018. Retailing executives attending this year’s class represented seven countries. After 36 years, the program continues to be very popular. This program currently is offered annually twice in North America (at Babson College and at the College of William and Mary) and once in Australia (hosted by the Swinburne University’s Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship). The program is next offered April 27–May 3, 2019, at the College of William and Mary. Those interested are encouraged to apply early. For more information, please visit Strategic Planning and Management in Retailingemail Dayle Lipsky or call +1-781-239-3915.

The program kicked off with “The Eight Ways to Win in Retailing,” and featured cases on Fast Retailing Group (Uniqlo), Amazon, Best Buy case series, Midwest Markets, T. J. Maxx, Ulta Beauty, and Sephora. The Burberry case featured the company’s award-winning use of digital technology in its stores. The T. J. Maxx case was paired with a new article on store positioning using perceptual mapping and an article about the company in Fortune magazine. The Sephora and Ulta cases focused on the use and evaluation of social media in retailing and the competitive cosmetics and beauty market. The Fast Retailing/Uniqlo case traced the strategic evolution of Uniqlo from a small Japanese men’s shop to worldwide competitor to Zara, H&M, and Gap.

The class paid particular attention to the company’s culture and its CEO’s “change or die” philosophy. The Amazon case appraised the various businesses and challenges facing the world’s premier online retailer. The Best Buy case series closed the program and traced the history of the “Sound of Music,” to Best Buy Concepts 1, 2, and 3, to customer centricity, the digital revolution and the recent revitalization of Best Buy under Hubert Joly. In addition, the faculty delivered lectures and exercises on financial and productivity analysis, strategic thinking and planning, category scorecards, merchandise management, and customer and associate satisfaction.

On Wednesday afternoon, September 12, the group participated in a store tour. We visited BJ’s Wholesale Club, Target, Ulta Beauty, Whole Foods Market; Shopper’s World Power Center (including Best Buy, DSW, Toys “R” Us, Barnes & Noble, T.J. Maxx, Sports Authority, and others); the Natick Mall (Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Sears, JCPenney, Zara, H&M, and numerous other specialty stores, as well as the newest and largest Wegman’s Supermarket). The highlight of the trip was our visit and guided tour of recently renovated Jordan’s Furniture and its IMAX Theater.

We introduced a new feature to the program in September 2012, and it is now a staple of the program: that was our multichannel shoe shopping exercise. For 2018, we had a multichannel beauty shopping exercise. It was incorporated into our store tour activities, described above. This exercise was designed to analyze shopping experiences in different channels. Participants compared the following shopping channels in the beauty category:

  1. Shopping through search engines (Google)
  2. Shopping via retail websites
  3. Shopping via traditional bricks and mortar stores

Participants visited several sites online including Nordstrom, Macy’s, Sephora, Ulta, and MAC. They evaluated the online sites on a variety of criteria and then visited the “bricks and mortar” stores and compared the “clicks” with the “bricks” for each.

Program participants represented seven countries: The United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, South Africa, and Sweden. The participants came from companies in a wide variety of retail sectors, and the class was composed of senior-level executives representing all the functions of a retail organization. Professors Larry Ring, John Strong, and Ron Hess were the primary program faculty for each of the programs. Mary Siegel served as program manager and housemother, and looked after all members of the diverse group of participants.