As part of the NC Retail Merchant’s Association’s (NCRMA) vision to highlight the retail industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, we made the decision last year to partner with the Wake Forest University Center for Retail Innovation’s Annual Case Competition and to sponsor the MVP undergraduate winner. Participating in this event was one of the highlights of my year last year, and as my co-worker can attest in her recent blog post – 5 Sales Lessons Revisited From Judging The WFU School of Business Case Competition – hers as well! The work that is being done at the Center for Retail Innovation is inspiring many smart and talented young people to consider careers in the retail industry. This year’s MVP was University of Maryland student Ashley Jager.
“This event exposes students from across the globe to a new level of marketing data analysis, critical thinking, professional presentation and networking,” said the Center’s Executive Director Roger Beahm. At Wake Forest, we’re educating a new generation of marketing professionals who analyze data, extract insights and create actionable strategies.”
The eight graduate and six undergraduate student teams chosen from dozens of applications had just one week to analyze real-world data sets and solve a business case that challenged them to leverage mobile technology for shoppers’ in-store experiences. Three undergraduate and MBA teams were chosen to present their solutions to a panel of judges and the 600 or so executives attending. The audience voted by text for their favorite presentation, serving as the “fifth judge” during the competition’s final rounds.
Meet One of the Summit’s Brightest Young Stars
This month Ashley Jager walked away with an experience she won’t likely forget. Her University of Maryland team won first place in the undergraduate case competition at the Wake Forest School of Business Marketing Summit. Ashley also earned the undergraduate MVP award and a $1,000 cash prize from the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.
The work began in Maryland, with a 10-day-challenge to address real-world data and consider how mobile technology could be leveraged for in-store retail experiences. When the clock started ticking, her team got down to business. They met around classes, both day and night, and in the end their marketing acumen was apparent. When they arrived at WFU to present their work, they were only ones who started with a survey.
“We asked customers why they don’t use store apps on their mobile phones to begin with,” says Ashley. “It turns out limited wifi was the biggest reason.”
From there, the team came up with innovations to incorporate mobile apps in the shopping experience. They suggested a mobile stand to latch onto a shopping cart, they suggested a GPS feature to map out stores, and they introduced a shopping history intelligence that could help customers remember what products might be forgotten.
“Judges wanted to know how we made our presentation and if we outsourced,” says Ashley, a marketing major with emphasis on graphic design. Her talents were put to good use in the creation of an animated, digestible presentation that made their ideas shine.
Think you know retail? You may be surprised.