Three years ago, I packed up my car and drove 98 miles to Tucson and enrolled at the University of Arizona. Last summer, I packed up my car and drove 372 miles to Los Angeles for a summer internship. One week ago, I packed up my car and drove 752 miles to San Francisco where I will be a Merchandising Intern at Walmart Global eCommerce. The feelings were similar when I pulled up to each final destination: anxiety and fear, but also excitement and hope. Continue reading

As a college student, your answer becomes repetitive when talking about what you’re doing in school. We’re constantly asked “What are you studying?” and “Why did you choose to go to school in Arizona?” The answer to these questions had become so monotonous that my answer had started to seem rehearsed when asked. “I am going to be a Senior at the University of Arizona this Fall, and I chose to leave California to go to school in Arizona because the U of A had everything I wanted: sports, greek life, and the retail program.”

Today, the answer has become so much more. Not only did I fall in love with my school, I fell in love with the Retailing and Consumer Sciences program. I currently work at the Terry J. Lundgren Center For Retailing as the social media manager and it has been a wonderful opportunity to connect and build meaningful relationships with my co-workers and faculty. Without the Retailing and Consumer Sciences program, I wouldn’t be where I am today, at Macy’s Inc. headquarters in New York City.

This Summer, I have the opportunity to intern for Macy’s Inc. in their omni-channel buying program. Omni channel buying is purchasing items for both online platforms and the physical stores. The department I am buying for this summer is girls kids, sizes 2-16. I was accepted into my internship program nine months ago and I was thrilled to hear about my department placing after waiting so long.

I arrived to the big apple Thursday, June 2nd, celebrated my 21st birthday on Sunday, June 4th, and started my internship on Monday, June 5th. It has been a crazy seven days to say the least.

My first two days of work were very informative and gave a general overview of the retail industry and what to expect from our internship. Omni and Private brands collaborate to offer exclusive styles from market brands and brands found only at Macy’s. In my department, we work with both market brands and private label brands. More specifically, a role of an Omni Buyer includes leading the development of omni customer-focused assortment visions and managing pre-season and in-season assortment planning process and strategy.

As mentioned before, the first two days were very informative but the third day is where it all hit me. On Wednesday, I met my supervisor and head buyer, Olga Leykin, and the rest of the my buying team. I immediately hit it off with the assistant buyer, Katie, because we shared the same birthday. In that moment, they told me we would be going to market where we would be meeting with two vendors.

I was immediately thrown into the buying world as I found myself looking at the two vendors’ upcoming holiday and transition lines. The little girls shirt were so cute, I wanted to wear them myself. Not only was I able to completely immerse myself into the buying world, I felt comfortable and confident enough to voice my opinion. Olga even selected a few items I recommended. I never felt lost because my team did a great job at keeping me up to date on all of the lingo and terminology that they were using.

It was an amazing first three days at work and I am looking forward to diving into the analytical side of the buying process. I am so curious and I already have hundreds of questions to ask. This truly has been an opportunity of a lifetime and I feel so blessed to be here in New York in addition to working for such an amazing corporation.

New York intimidated me at first, but I am learning and finding my way around just fine. I have always enjoyed the fast pace lifestyle and I feel like I fit in here. I’ve also tackled the subway a few times by myself and I am starting to feel like a true New Yorker.

Retail Technology

In the first four months of 2017 alone, there have been 14 retail bankruptcies–almost as many as in all of 2016. Other companies, such as J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and Sears, have announced massive store closures.

Retailers who have adopted new forms of technology, such as artificial intelligence, are hitting record numbers. A few companies that have stood out so far in 2017 are Starbucks and Lowe’s.

Starbucks already allows people to order remotely and go into their retail locations to pick up drinks, and is presently deploying and A.I. assistant into their app. Called My Starbucks Barista, the feature will allow users to place orders with one tap of a button, then speak to a virtual barista. The bot then communicates with a nearby store, which makes the drink. This initiative should increase remote ordering, which already allows consumers to bypass long lines to the cash register. Smartphone payments already make up 25 percent of Starbucks’s transactions in the U.S.

Lowe’s the home improvement retailer, is proactively trying to figure out the future of retail–in fact, it has been testing store-mapping robots for two years now.LoweBots are designed to help customers find what they need in the store.

Each LoweBot employs natural-language processing to help customers find what they’re looking for. Customers can approach the LoweBot and ask for its assistance, either verbally or by typing on a touch screen. Additionally, LoweBots are equipped with 3-D scanners, so that if a person is, say, idling next to the cabinet fixtures section, it can approach and offer assistance. Once the bot knows what the customer is looking for, it then guides them towards the item in question, using smart laser sensors to navigate.

Retail Brands That Are Winning The Tech Game


Its no surprise Hershey company’s priority is to increase sales of its candy and snacks, but there are some facts and figures that could prove useful to retail managers. The company notes, that 56% of online grocery shoppers regularly make impulse purchases of candy and snacks before checking out. Hershey research also found shoppers linger in the candy aisle longer than any other aisle in the store, at 91 seconds (wine follows in a close second place, at 90 seconds).

As far as its own innovations go, the manufacturer noted its recently introduced stand-up candy bags provided a 5 % sales lift over its traditional lay-down bags. Hershey also touted its supply chain efficiencies, like a shelf-ready shipping box that uses 32% fewer materials that its conventional box.

Hershey’s Plan to Boost Sales

Check-Out Lines

In this day of mobile wallets and inserting cards, not everyone likes to be rushed at the checkout line. And not everyone can be. Tesco is testing a “relaxed” checkout lane at one of its stores in northern Scotland. The shopping lane is promoted to older customers, particularly those with dementia who may need a little more time to find their cash or close out the sale.

The lane includes a sign urging customers to “take as long as you need to go through checkout today.” And for those who might have strayed into the line by accident, it includes a warning: “Please be aware that you may experience a wait to complete your transaction.”

The idea came about when a Tesco employee attended a seminar on people with dementia, finding that pressure to hurry along at the grocery checkout can be stressful. Tesco has devoted two mornings a week to the relaxed lane, which includes personnel trained by a local Alzheimer’s organization to, for example, speak more slowly.

It’s a good reminder that, even in today’s zippy world, not everyone likes to be rushed. Some elderly shoppers might appreciate the social interaction.

Chill Check-Out Lanes


Apple’s mobile payments wallet is growing quickly. The number of Apple Pay transactions in the latest quarter rose 450% from the same period a year ago, CEO Tim Cook said on Tuesday during a conference call with analysts about his company’s quarterly results.The likely reason: Apple Pay expanded to a number of new international markets in 2016. It is now available in 15 countries.

In the past, Apple has said that one million new users sign up for Apple Pay each week. Apple Pay debuted in 2014 as a way to let shoppers load their credit card and debit card information onto iPhones’ “mobile wallets.” Customers can then use either their iPhone (or linked Apple Watch) to pay at retail stores equipped with point-of-sale registers supporting near-field communication (NFC) technology, which allows for payments between smartphones and registers. Apple Pay users simply place their phones or watches near the registers’ sensors for payments without having to swipe a card.

More Apple Pay Users

Energy of a Startup

“There’s a type of energy and pace that comes with startups. I enjoy wearing multiple hats.” said Jennifer Fleiss, a co-founder of clothing rental service Rent the Runway. After nine years with the company, Fleiss stepped down as CEO in March to join one of Walmart Stores’ newly launched incubator, Code 8.

Fleiss is excited to be in the fast pace startup environment again. Code 8 is still in the early phases, very different from Fleiss’ last role. In her new position, she will have six employees at their headquarters in New York City. The main product of Code 8 is a mobile, app-based experience meant to make shopping magical and delightful. It will also offer a “premium” experience not targeted to Walmart’s regular customers. Watch to see what Jennifer Fleiss does with Code 8, it sounds so intriguing. 

Walmart’s New Store: Code 8

Grocery Startup

Did the new grocery startup, Wasteless, just solve all the grocery stores’ problems? Wasteless, a startup with headquarters in Israel and New York, has introduced a new innovation dubbed the “Internet of Groceries” to reduce waste while saving customers and retailers money.

The Wasteless technology tags perishable foods in stores using an RFID chip that is intended to replace the use of the bar code. The RFID chip tracks the item’s expiration date and, using software, detects the appropriate price for the item to be sold. Newer products may cost retail price, while soon-to-expire products may be discounted by a few dollars.

The “Internet of Groceries” Startup

Tech Startup

This Dutch startup has been flying under the radar. The company turns activity data  from devices made by Strava or Garmin, and combines this with photos you’ve taken to create 3D animated videos.

Relive lets you create a more personal 3D video story of your outdoor adventures. It crunches your activity data and combines it with the GPS and timestamped photos from your phone or digital camera. The resulting video gives you a 3D fly-through of the route highlighting landmarks, including relevant images you’ve taken, pinned to a map.

The startup is still looking for investors but with almost a half a million users creating 100,000 videos a day, that shouldn’t be a problem

Relive – The Tech Startup

Ideas To Doors

The Ideas To Doors (I2D) conference, hosted by the Terry J. Lundgren Center For Retailing at The University of Arizona, is about the stories of retail entrepreneurs and Innovators. It is about the passion, the determination, the belief that they could take their ideas – as crazy as they may have seemed at the start – and get them into the doors of their retail stores and of their customers.

You will get a great deal whether you are a young student or professional or an industry veteran.  This conference is about getting an intimate peek into some amazing retail stories and innovations that are beginning to build their own legacy like many of the household names of retailing did in the decades and centuries past.  This is about feeling the energy and passion of entrepreneurs who don’t just go along but are finding their niche in the market and charging through it.

I2D is not your typical industry conference.  It isn’t about listening to speakers but about sitting in on a conversation.  It is about hearing the oftentimes gut-wrenching but always inspiring and head-shaking stories of real innovators as they navigate the startup challenge.  Learn more –>


PetSmart has fetched the biggest e-commerce acquisition to date, even larger than Walmart’s $3.3 billion deal for last year. The nations’s largest pet-supplier has acquired Florida-based, the markets No. 1 online pet retailer.

According to Recode’s sources, the deal in place is valued at $3.35 billion. Chewy’s active e-commerce customer and culture centered around a love of pets is the ideal partner for PetSmart’s large store footprint.  Chewy has seen explosive growth after being founded by Ryan Cohen and Micheal “Blake Day” in 2011. The privately held company registered $26 million in sales during its first full year in business and logged more than $900 million in sales in 2016, the company said. Although it was not yet profitable, Cohen said in February Chewy was projected to increase revenues to nearly $2 billion this year — nearly a 7,600 percent growth spurt in just six years.

Chewy will operate as an independent subsidiary of PetSmart run by Cohen and will remain focused on its current business strategy, while PetSmart will continue to execute its strategic initiatives across the combined company, PetSmart said.

PetSmart Acquires

Fashion Technology

Amazon has released the new, echo look. A $200 gadget that uses its depth-sensing camera and LED lights for style selfies and fashion advice. It lets people take full-length photos and videos of their outfits using just their voices, so they can more easily compare looks and share their fashion pictures with friends.

The new device, which will include the same Alexa voice assistant as other Echo devices, is available by invite only to US customers. Invites will be granted on a rolling basis.

Amazon’s Echo Look

Mobile Ordering

MealPal, a meal subscription plan, is attempting to resuscitate the workday lunch break, while giving it a makeover. One in five employees take a lunch break during the work day, and 28% rarely or never take a lunch break. Due to the monotony of eating the same thing day after day, MealPal are looking to give employees the motivation to duck out of work for a few minutes.

Mary Biggins, the cofounder of MealPal, thinks that a similar subscription-based model to her fitness service ClassPass will reinvent the lunch break. Biggins said MealPal was created to help meet the demands of both customers and restaurant owners by offering both parties a subscription-based plan designed to encourage office workers to cash in on their lunch breaks. Members choose a 30-day subscription plan, which costs around $6 per meal

Starting the day before pickup, members can choose the restaurant they want to visit between 5:00 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. the next day. The MealPal website and app displays an image of each restaurant’s designated MealPal meal, including the ingredients, and the customer can select the meal and schedule a pickup time. When lunchtime rolls around, they can skip the line when they arrive for pickup, and their meal will be waiting for them.

MealPal, The Subscription-based Meal Plan

Supply Chain

Amazon just won the patent for “on-demand apparel manufacturing,” in which machines only start snipping and stitching once an order has been placed.

The computerized system would include textile printers, cutters and an assembly like, as well as cameras designed to snap images of garments that would provide feedback on alterations needed. In order to increase efficiency, the goods would be manufactured in batches based on factors such as the customer shipping address.

By aggregating orders from various geographic locations and coordinating apparel assembly processes on a large scale, the embodiments provide new ways to increase efficiency in apparel manufacturing.

Amazon applied for the patent in late 2015 and it is yet to be determined if such a facility is being built. The e-commerce giant has its sights set on being a giant player in the clothing industry.

On-Demand Apparel Manufacturing Warehouse


The Global Retailing Conference 2017

The 21st Global Retailing Conference was one for the books! This year’s theme, What’s in Store, had various retailers proving that retail is not dead, it’s just the beginning. The conference had 450 attendees and 150 students from the Retailing and Consumer Sciences program at the University of Arizona. Here, we share a little insight into what was discussed at the conference this year.

To kick things off Thursday morning, Terry Lundgren, former CEO of Macy’s and now Executive Chairman, moderated a special NRF Executive Committee Panel. Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, discussed innovation within the brick-and-mortar store and how “The speed factor is very important along with making your company comfortable with that rate of change.” The riveting discussion definitely set the tone for the rest of the conference.

Gregg Throgmartin – Fabletics

Gregg Throgmartin is the General manager for the athleisure apparel brand, Fabletics. The company started as an online retailer with a membership program that encourages customers to purchase new athletic wear each month. When Gregg joined Fabletics to lead the omni-channel expansion plan, he already had years of experience in the retail industry and was ready to make Fabletics a successful omni-channel brand.

Working for the fastest growing fashion retail brand he was eager to take the online retailer to a physical store, but not just any store. Gregg noted that collecting numerous amounts of data can only be effective if it structured correctly. He said, “more data does not lead to more insight.” When Fabletics decided to open six test store, they patented a platform called Omnicart to track items customers tried on in fitting rooms. This technology allowed the retailer to collect big data in the physical store and used it to their advantage in their online platform.

Jeff Gennette – Macy’s Inc.,

As some of you may know, Terry Lundgren recently stepped down as CEO of Macy’s Inc., handing the reigns over to the President, Jeff Gennette. Jeff Gennette is still getting comfortable in his new role as Macy’s CEO, but he was thrilled to share what we can expect from Macy’s in the years to come.

Jeff Gennette had a lot to say about Reimagining Macy’s. Today retailers have more access to customer information and big data regarding consumer trends but he still believes in “the power of listening.”

Macy’s new strategy, like the Macy’s star, has five main points. The first point discussed at this year’s conference was the, strength of the brand. Brands can be a big part of customers’ life and you must be able to deliver, love, authority, and value. Through a campaign this Fall, Macy’s plans to show you exactly what they mean by hosting events and sales to maintain the Macy’s value. The other four points includes carrying products customers love, creating more experiences while shopping, integrating technology and human interaction, all while taking advantage of the critical role stores play in the business moving forward.

Angela Ahrendts – Apple Retail

The Global Retailing Conference was more intimate with Angela Ahrents, senior VP of Apple Retail, and Susan Hart, the Global Retailing Practice leader for Spencer Stuart.

Angela Ahrendt’s previous position was with the brand,Burberry. When she first started with the brand she said “I wanted to turn Burberry into Apple” expressing the similarity between the two luxury retailers. Products are changing people’s lives and business needs to keep up with the change of pace. She expressed how technology can help keep up with the pace and deliver the products consumers want.

Apple is known for their unique store design and over all feel of the brand. Angela expressed that if you want your customer to understand your company you must unify design all the way from the corporate offices down to store look and feel.  Helping bring design from a board room on Apple campus down to the store level, Apple wants you to feel like you work with apple, not just own their products. They’ve even taken the word, ‘store’ out of everything and they call the store by a specific name and location.

Touching on the millennial question, through Angela’s personal experience, she learned that you must communicate with millennials the way they’ve learned to communicate. Most of the time, this communication is leveraging various platforms to your advantage. Angela has demonstrated this communication in her personal and professional life by creating short video clips, sending a text message vs. an email, along with using other social platforms.

To hear more from Angela Ahrendts, watch her Tedx Talk

Kendra Scott – CEO, Designer and Philanthropist

It was a honor hearing Kendra Scott speak at the 2017 Global Retailing Conference. She was an inspiration and left an impression on everyone in the room.

Kendra Scott started her career with her very own hat store, Hat Box, after discovering her father had brain cancer. Kendra was inspired by the idea when visiting her father in the hospital when she noticed that the hats cancer patients were wearing could use an upgrade. The vision Kendra had in mind for her Hat Box store was everyone to wearing hats like the early fashion trends of the 1920’s. Unfortunately the Hat Box was a failed business adventure, but bridged the success to Kendra Scott’s next adventure.

As we learned at the conference, Kendra Scott is a go-getter. She loves when people tell her she can’t do something because it gives her the opportunity to “prove them wrong, give them a smile and say thank you.” Kendra has taken her failures, learned from them and turned them into a billion dollar fashion brand loved globally.

Her fathers saying “you do good” has driven her and her company to make the world a better place through philanthropic services. Explaining how life changing moments leave a big impact, when her dad was diagnosed with brain cancer she said “Everything I thought was important in that moment was gone, we need moments like these to bridge our future success.” Moments of impact teach and drive people’s core values, inspire people to paint their picture, and live their dream. Kendra’s lasting words from the conference were “use your passion to do good”


Retail Technology

This new device is built to expand the use of technology to improve the consumer’s experience in stores, or in the privacy of their own home. The new HiMirror has a camera that sits on top and has the ability to close in on your face and analyze your skin’s wrinkles, blemishes, dark spots, and even clogged pores. The mirror doubles as a computer screen and uses voice commands and responds to hand gestures while communicating. The mirror can even provide a weekly update on how your skin is aging and tell you what sunscreen to wear depending on the weather that day.

Top brands such as Ralph Lauren, and well as department stores like Bergforf Goodman, are investing in the technology. The goal is to keep consumers engaged and make them more confident in their purchases. The mirror does this by showing the customer what they would look like with a certain shade of eyeshadow or dress styles with out actually putting the outfit on.

The CEO, Simon Shen, of Kino Group was inspired to create the HiMirror after noticing his wife’s uneasy relationship with the bathroom scale. Did I mention the mirror tracks your body weight as well? Simon said that “Lots of people have questions as to weather their [skin care] products are really effective, but there’s no scientific measurements, so by every day taking pictures and [analyzing] their skin, they can understand where there is improvement in their skin condition.”

Interactive “Magic Mirrors” Are Changing How We See Ourselves—And Shop

Product Selection

Goodman Gluten Free introduces its gluten-free baked goods to Ahold USA this month, expanding its store reach to over 2,000 supermarkets since its 2015 launch.

The gluten-free market, initially targeting people with celiac disease and other gluten intolerances, has been showing up on Google trends reports for more than a decade. Since then, the trend has become a popular lifestyle choice for people without dietary restrictions as well, and gluten-free products are perceived as healthier — and even more premium — than traditional applications by many consumers.

The category’s broad, still-growing consumer base makes it a lucrative space for food manufacturers to expand into. Bob Goodman, who’s been associated with the bakery industry for 40 years, seems to have created a gluten-free line at just the right time.

Goodman Gluten Free’s addition of three new gluten-free product lines also suggests confidence in the staying power of this food trend, giving manufacturers who haven’t yet dabbled in the space an opportunity to get on board. According to Packaged Facts, U.S. sales of gluten-free products, estimated at $973 million in 2014, are expected to top $2 billion by 2019.

In-Store Bakeries Add More Gluten Free Options


Adidas has launched a new sneaker with a 3D-printed sole that they plan to mass-produce next year, part of a broader push by the German sportswear firm to react faster to changing fashions and create more customized products.

Adidas already lets people customize the color and pattern of shoes ordered online but new 3D printing methods will make small production runs, limited edition shoes and even soles designed to fit an individual’s weight and gait economical. Rivals Nike, Under Armour and New Balance have also been experimenting with 3D printing but have so far only used the technique to make prototypes, soles tailored for sponsored athletes and a handful of high-priced novelty shoes.

Normally 3D-printing is slower and more expensive but Adidas says its new partnership with Silicon Valley start-up Carbon allows it to overcome many of those difficulties to produce a sole that can rival one made by an injection mould, and at a speed and price that allow for mass production.

Adidas Will Mass-Produce a 3D-Printed Shoe

Supply Chain

Retailers and logistics companies have been opening warehouses at a record pace to ensure online orders reach customers as quickly as possible. Now they’re struggling to find workers to staff them.

Amazon Inc., Walmart Inc. and other e-commerce giants rely on armies of “pickers” to grab items off warehouse shelves and prep them for shipment. For years they’ve drawn from a seemingly limitless pool of people willing to take these jobs, which can be grueling but require little training or education.

Starting pay for warehouse workers rose 6% over the past year to $12.15 an hour in February, according to an analysis by ProLogistix, a logistics staffing firm. Hourly earnings rose 2.8% across all professions over the same period, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Booming sales mean e-commerce operations have to ship more items faster, and pay increases are imposing new costs. It estimates a $1-an-hour wage increase can raise labor costs by more than $2 million a year at “big box” warehouses employing as many as 1,000 workers.

Rising labor costs are speeding up the pace of automation and influencing where new warehouses are built. And as poaching becomes a bigger threat, employers are trying to make picker jobs more attractive, with perks like employee barbecues and holiday breakfasts, as well as more-flexible shifts.

Online Retailers’ New Warehouses Heat Up Local Job Markets


Business Insider is forecasting that in the U.S. alone mobile payments volume will increase to $503 billion by 2020 and will be used by 56 percent of the consumer population during that year. Meanwhile, Sweden, Singapore, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Belgium and the U.K. are already on their way to becoming cashless societies – with Australia, Brazil, India and much of Africa following suit.

While there are still barriers and limitations, such as security concerns and limited number of compatible vendors, digital wallets, and mobile payments are not only changing how we pay for goods and services, they also have the power to go beyond payments because of how they’re constantly being evolved – which is going to be important for both businesses and customers.

Today, however, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding digital wallets and mobile payments since these terms are interchanged so frequently. To be clear, a digital wallet is simply tokenization of data. While digital wallets are often associated with payments, they can be used to issue digital rewards, tickets or boarding passes, room keys, or identification.

For customers, digital wallets and mobile payments can replace carrying around a bulky wallet. Besides being a minor hassle, you no longer have to be concerned if you forgot your cash, credit card, or ID at home. All that information is stored on your smartphone. And, unlike your wallet, you probably never leave home without your phone.

Cashless Society