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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Down the home-stretch

Wow!  What an amazing semester it has been!

Just when we start to think that each semester can't possibly get any busier than the last, we get thrown into the madness that is each and every semester at UW-Madison.  But we wouldn't have it any other way!  This blog post will serve as a quick recap of what we and our students have been up to all semester.  While the following will give you somewhat of an idea, we encourage you to go to our website (, which is brand-spanking-new by the way, and check out this Fall's newsletter.  We don't think you'll be disappointed!

  • Speaking of our website, it is BRAND NEW and we love it!  It took a lot of hard work and a lot of time, but we couldn't be more pleased with the outcome.  We think we finally have an easy-to-use, yet professional website that reflects extremely well on us, our partners, and our students.  We welcome any feedback that you have!

  • Bridgestone renewed it's partnership with the Center this semester.  We are always amazed by the generosity of our donors, and we appreciate absolutely everything they do to make sure the Center continues to thrive as one of the leading academic Retail centers in the nation!

  • The Student Retail Association (SRA) continued to take wonderful steps forward as an organization.  Not only did they continue to offer high-caliber programming, but they also restructured to capitalize on their members' talents and initiative.  

  • The Center's Retail Lecture Series continued its established tradition of bringing superstar-speakers from partner companies.  This year's lecture featured Divisional Planning Manager Bob Baus, who fielded nearly 45 minutes worth of student questions!  After the lecture, a number of students and staff were invited to a networking cocktail hour and dinner with Kohl's representatives.  The students and staff alike were able to gain fantastic insight to the various career paths with one of the industry's leading companies.

  • Similarly, the Retail Leadership Symposium once again proved why any student interested in retail needs to take the class.  Boasting an AMAZING line-up of speakers, including current and former CEOs, as well as a co-owner, multiple Vice Presidents, and many more, students had the distinct opportunity to learn from those who have done it all in so many different areas of the industry.

  • Our students had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a number of amazing case studies.  Including cases from American Eagle, YMA - the Fashion Scholarship, and the National Retail Federation, students were able to use and expand their knowledge through real-world scenarios.  These case studies asked students to, among other things: Develop a marketing plan with the possibility of presenting to C-Suite officials, and having their ideas implemented in stores across the country; develop a creative, viable Private Brand for a retailer that fills a void in its current product offering; and researching/developing plans for mobile strategy implementation - particularly applying mobile technologies to customer service solutions.

  • Industrial and Systems Engineering Professors Raj Veeramani and Ananth Krishnamurthy were honored to receive a research grant worth over $220,000 from Center partner Hy-Vee, Inc.  They will lead the Center's research thrust area in retail supply chain optimization.  The goal of this project is to develop an evaluation framework and analytical models to gain fundamental insights into the impact that automation can have on the performance of distribution operations at an individual DC level, as well as the distribution network as a whole.

  • Student Ariel Arnson, President of the Textile and Apparel Student Association, has her hands plenty full, leading an organization, helping students develop their portfolios, and leading the planning for this Spring's annual fashion show.  Oh yeah, and she's competing in a competition for NASA.  Yes, that NASA.  Arnson and other colleagues at UW-Madison are competing to win a competition which focuses on creating an inflatable exploratory loft for astronauts to live and sleep in on extra-terrestrial surfaces.  

  • The last thing we will mention, but certainly not least, is that Kohl's Department Stores recently announced it would once again sponsor a trip for 30 students to study abroad in Hong Kong and China.  The trip will once again focus on Business, Culture, and the Retail Industry, primarily studying the overseas processes of sourcing, supply chain and distribution, design and product development, brand marketing, brand management, and more.  This year's trip will once again take place over Spring Break, and will again include stops in Hong Kong and Shanghai, but will not include Shenzhen.  Instead, students and staff will stop in Beijing, a city with far more cultural and historical significance.

As always, we wish to thank our partnering companies for all your generous contributions of your limited, valuable resources.  Without you, the Center for Retailing Excellence would not exist, and we and our students are extremely grateful for all that you do.

Remember to follow us on Facebook (Kohl's Center for Retailing Excellence) and Twitter (@kcre_uwmadison) to keep up to date on whatever the Center is up to, and be sure to check out our newsletter and brand new website!

Go Badgers (Rose Bowl bound!), and as always...

On Wisconsin!