The retail industry is in the midst of significant strategic change with greater consumer demands for personalization, flexibility and responsiveness and operational demands driven by competition in supply chain management, store operations and consumer analytics.

The idea that retailing is just store clerks, cash registers, and hand carts is the thing of the past.  Retailing today is about deep strategy, rich insights and fast paced demands.  Many of these advances are driven by technology as complex and far-ranging as one would find in the most sophisticated global manufacturers.

A Retail Technology Pitch Competition

The ri.lab at the Terry J. Lundgren Center of Retailing, in cooperation with other key departments and colleges on the University of Arizona campus, is hosting a retail technology pitch competition.  rilab_2This competition is driven by a series of retail technology areas that are defining the retail landscape.

In this competition, student teams drawn from across the campus and across different academic disciplines, will have the opportunity to work together in creating and then pitching solutions to these pressing retail challenges.  This process will involve many focused workshops and mentor/team interactions developed specifically for ri.lab as well as relying on the expanding startup infrastructure and opportunities already in existence on the University of Arizona campus.  Students are not expected to know all the intricacies and challenges of the retailing industry but be interested in learning how they can apply their knowledge – be it in business, entrepreneurship, technology, software programming, and others – to one of the fastest changing industries in the world.

To register for this information session, sign up here:  http://ri-lab-orientation-session.eventbrite.com

Retail 101 – How Technology is Addressing Retail Challenges

For those students new to the technology issues and opportunities in retailing, faculty from the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing will provide several focused workshops to participants on the pressing challenges confronting retailers today.  These are wide ranging and reflect an increasingly competitive environment for retailers – big and small (see inset to the left for a couple examples).  Examples of the key issues that will be discussed is the growing need to make a retail supply chain that connects producers in the smallest villages in Asia and Latin America to consumers in every town in the United States more responsive, flexible and cost effective and the increasing desire by consumers to have a very personalized experience with retailers yet with the privacy and security that makes that interaction comfortable for them.  How retailers are utilizing technology to address these types of issues will be discussed but is also the core objective of this pitch competition.

Interaction with UA’s Startup, Technology and Retail Communities

Participants will also engage other existing programs and initiatives that have been developed over recent years through the Office of Student Engagement and InnovateUA.  These programs – including PitchFest and Hack Arizona – will allow students to dig deeply into their retail rilab_3technology solutions in preparation for the final pitch presentations in April.  This presentation will happen on the afternoon of April 21, 2017 at JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson which is the site of the Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing’s annual Global Retailing Conference.  This conference – attended by retail and technology leaders from across the globe – will be a wonderful opportunity for students to learn from an amazing lineup of speakers and then to present their ideas to those deeply involved in this growing and competitive industry.

Teams may also end up with an opportunity to earn some prize monies at various stages of the competition and get exposure for their ideas.  Regardless, it is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn how to work across disciplines and how they can develop an amazing career in the real retail industry.

Schedule of Pitch Competition Process

The graph below provides a high level view of the process through which students will proceed during the academic year.  As this is a work-in-progress, some of these dates and interactions are tentative.  But, regardless of any particular activity, students will have many opportunities to engage one another, faculty, business mentors and others as they develop their initial concepts and their pitch presentation.

So, please join us at our All Campus Information Session on Friday, October 7th at 2:00pm in Lecture Hall 103 in McClelland Park (across the street from Park Student Union at 650 North Park).  You will learn much more about this competition and how you can get involved.  If you have any immediate questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Scott Hessell, Director, Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing at shessell@email.arizona.edu.

To register for this information session, sign up here:  http://ri-lab-orientation-session.eventbrite.com