Today, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the trade association for America’s largest and most recognized retailers, announced a groundbreaking collaboration with Intel and universities from all corners of North America to create a robust retail-tech talent pipeline. This project is part of RILA’s (R)Tech Center for Innovation, launched last year. The (R)Tech Collegiate Network announced today at Shoptalk, will generate an (R)Tech Talent Pipeline that exposes and attracts young people with tech backgrounds to opportunities in retail.
A centerpiece of the (R)Tech Talent Pipeline is the creation of a network of live-learning stores at Arizona State University, McGill University, and the University of Minnesota and retail-focused collaborations with Georgia Tech, Santa Clara University, Texas A&M, and others. The (R)Tech Center for Innovation is working with each of these universities to open on-campus physical, learning stores to test creative new store concepts and engage students and faculty alike in the industry’s future.
“Accelerating retail innovation has been RILA’s mission from day one,” said Adam Siegel, senior vice president of innovation for RILA. “As retailers continue to transform, RILA is committed to help them attract the best talent that will build their businesses to meet consumers’ changing needs. We are thrilled to work with Intel and our university partners to build a dynamic, creative, fun, and entrepreneurial network that exposes future employees to the exciting opportunities in retail.”
RILA launched the (R)Tech Center for Innovation at Shoptalk 2017. Since its launch, the Center has focused on helping retailers navigate the industry’s transformation through authoritative research, connecting retailers to innovative technologies and ventures, and assisting the industry in creating cultures of innovation. Specifically, the (R)Tech Center for Innovation empowers retail innovation chiefs and exposes other executives to the technologies and innovations driving change in retail.
“The retail industry is evolving and so with it are the needs to speed the pace of innovation and to attract diverse talent. RILA and Intel’s collaboration will offer students exposure to the opportunities within the retail ecosystem and retailers the access to a new generation of innovators,” said Stacey Shulman, chief innovation officer of Intel's Retail Solutions Division.
As retailers continue to innovate, the (R)Tech Talent Pipeline will help the industry shape a 21st century retail workforce. The strategy will advance four tactics in 2018 to expose young people with the retail-technology skills needed to accelerate the industry’s future:
OPENING LIVE-LEARNING STORES
The Center will partner with Intel and select universities across the country to create physical, flexible, modular, multi-use experimental stores. Three world-class universities have energetically volunteered to initiate this store network: Arizona State University, McGill University, and the University of Minnesota.
“As the nation’s No. 1 most innovative university according to U.S. News & World Report, we are excited to bring innovation to the forefront of retail and provide a test bed for new concepts, technologies and user experiences. Supported by strong research in the area of design, augmented reality and consumer behavior, we expect this will lead to significant new insights into today’s consumer, and what retail of the future will hold,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
The Center will partner with its retail members and universities across the country to expose students to retailers’ exciting challenges and develop solutions. This January, the Center partnered with Wegmans and the Rochester Institute of Technology to host a hackathon to create original projects using the company's API. Many other universities will host hackathons later this year with (R)Tech Center members’ data or API.
FACILITATING A GLOBAL CASE COMPETITION
The Center will host a global design thinking case competition to develop creative ideas for redesigning retail in the circular economy, a challenge shared by many companies across the industry. The competition will culminate with a world-class final event in Montreal hosted by McGill University.
“Our partnership with RILA through the (R)Tech Center and the Global Case Competition, allows us to tackle some of the grand challenges impacting retail and ensure the future talent of the retail industry are well equipped to respond to these challenges,” said Professor Saibal Ray, Academic Director, Bensadoun Retail Initiative, McGill University.
“We are thrilled to explore the future of retail through exciting and innovative projects such as the Global Case Competition in partnership with RILA. The Competition is unique thanks to its design thinking approach and global in scope. We look forward to hosting teams from all over the world in Montreal this November,” said Charles de Brabant, Executive Director, Bensadoun Retail Initiative, McGill University.
LAUNCHING A (R)TECH ONLINE CERTIFICATION
Recognizing that existing retail executives also need to develop tech expertise, the Center will create an online certification specifically for mid-and senior-level retail executives to educate them on innovative trends, technologies, and practices.
The (R)Tech Collegiate Network is open to the best universities that are focusing on retail and/or tech skills, specifically data science, engineering, design, behavioral science, and strategy. RILA welcomes additional universities as members.
“For 35 years, Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School has promoted retailing as an aspirational career choice. Our graduates possess the business acumen to drive sales at America’s largest companies. The partnership with RILA enhances our ability to train students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and build essential technical skills so they can become transformational leaders in retailing,” said Kelli Hollinger, director Center for Retailing Studies, Texas A&M.
"Developing strategic leaders with the advanced skills necessary for success in the technology infused world of retail is at the core of our mission. Collaborating with RILA provides us the opportunity to engage across the Retail Talent Pipeline, expanding our reach and building valuable connections, for our retail studies students, that will ultimately impact and transform their retail career options. Now is a very exciting time to be a part of the retail industry experience," said Cynthia Gamage, associate director for the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University.