July 24, 2014

Georgetown-University-retail-lecture-imageI had the great honor and joy of being a guest lecturer at Georgetown University earlier this week. I was invited to speak to Prof.Skuba’s class on Global Retail.

I first met Prof. Skuba in the store, we were chatting about Retail and it’s role in the Economy. This led him to consider teaching a class at Georgetown which I greatly encouraged him to do so. I mentioned that the National Retail Federation was here in town and an old student of his was now President, Matt Shay. Moreover the NRF would be a great resource for him and his students. Fortunately Prof. Skuba did pursue it and here I was in front of a class of 46 students!

I chose to share with them my own retail journey from London to NYC to Washington, D.C. I shared with them my observations on how retail was experiencing a huge transformational and disruptive period. We talked about the technology driving change…tablets, mobile, analytics, along with the merchandising challenges…homogeneity of product, commoditization of product, Amazon. We discussed the impact of social media, Facebook, Pinterest , Twitter etc.

The students were interested to know why I chose to remain a single store…I love to do the buying, to be on the floor which allows for more interesting selections. I told them that unless you get to 10 stores quickly, you have all the problems but not the advantages of scale.

They asked about how we went about selecting merchandise. I answered that one needs to educate oneself on the category, visit trade shows and factories, and find a great mentor to share experiences!

The time flew by and I am happy to report I was asked back for next year!