Talking shop: Retail experts to assemble at IU for a full-day forum

Guest post by Karen Land, who normally writes at the Art at IU blog:

The Retail Studies Organization at Indiana University Bloomington has a special day in store Feb. 9. Its annual retail and design forum will feature a lineup of industry leaders from DSW Inc., Google, Kohl’s, Under Armour and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union.

Janis Shaffer, a faculty adviser for the organization, said the forum offers all IU students the chance to learn more about current industry challenges and opportunities.

Janis Shaffer

Janis Shaffer

“The executives will be speaking about intriguing topics, and they represent some of the most successful companies in the retail industry. It is a tremendous gift to IU students that they volunteer their time, talents and financial resources to come to campus,” said Shaffer, a senior lecturer in the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Design.

In fall 2016, the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Design will join studio arts programs in the new School of Art and Design, which will remain in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Students leave this event with a newfound passion for retail every year,” said Alex Larson, president of the Retail Studies Organization.

Members of the organization also can sign up to attend small-group sessions with the visiting speakers. More information on these sessions appears on the group’s website.

Retail and design forum speakers

9:30 a.m. — Katherine Finder, vice president of product development at Kohl’s, “Brand Clarity and Connecting with the Customer”

10:45 a.m. — Julie Krueger, retail industry director at Google, “My Life Before and After the Internet”

noon — Panel discussion featuring all of the speakers

1:15 p.m.Adam Peake, executive vice president of category management at Under Armour, “Marketing in a Global Retail Environment”

2:45 p.m.Fred Bedore, senior director of business strategy and sustainability at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., “How Resource Scarcity and Technology Could Redefine Retail”

4 p.m. — Brian Seewald, vice president of transformation at DSW Inc., “Challenges in Operationalizing Innovation.”

Seewald, who assumed his present title in the DSW Office of Innovation in 2015, said retail customers now expect “omnichannel engagement.” In other words, customers want the ability to purchase goods both in stores and online.

“We realize now that ‘omnichannel’ is really just retail, that it isn’t something that differentiates your brand. The difference now is that we have to make that experience consistently excellent regardless of how the customer chooses to shop us,” he said.

“We have a few accomplishments under our belts, but there is a long way to go, and it is the most exciting work I have done in my career.  I can’t imagine a more exciting time to be in retail.”

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