By Katie Nicholos, Manager, Research & Innovation
Since we launched the (R)Tech Center for Innovation last year, we heard one of the biggest obstacles for retailers to innovate is from getting the technical talent they need. In today's highly competitive tech job market, that talent is attracted to the orbit of high-flying tech firms, but not necessarily to retailers. Retailers do not yet have consistent access to this ever more critical workforce.
RILA's Talent Pipeline strategy exposes and attracts young people with tech backgrounds – data science, engineering, behavior science, design, and strategy – to opportunities in retail. We're supported by our growing (R)Tech Collegiate Network members to help drive this initiative, including Arizona State University, McGill University, Georgia Tech, Santa Clara University, Texas A&M, and others.
The strategy to attract people with these critical skills into our industry has three phases, beginning with hosting hackathons, driving a global competition, and opening live-learning stores…
In January, Wegmans helped us kick off our first hackathon at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in their hometown. Check out this video to see how students found a unique way to engage with one of their favorite local brands – and how grocers have gone tech.
(R)Tech and Wegmans at BrickHack
This coming weekend, we're headed to Boston with Qurate Retail Group (SM) – who owns QVC, HSN, zulily, Ballard Designs, Frontgate, Garnet Hill, Grandin Road, and Improvements – to participate in HackMIT. At the event, students will reimagine the way consumers shop alongside software engineering and retail mentors - creating innovations that will enhance the shopping experience using 3D product technologies.
We will hold two more exciting hackathons in November. The first is on November 2-4 at Vanderbilt's VandyHacks, where Dollar General will bring their own challenge for students to solve. Then we'll join forces with Arizona State University and Petco to co-host their first retail-focused event, (R)Tech's InfernoHacks, in conjunction with ASU's inaugural Innovation Day, November 16-17.
(R)Tech Global Retail Challenge
RILA and the Bensadoun School of Retail Management at McGill University are excited to tackle the pressing issues surrounding retail and the Grand Challenges facing our societies through an innovative retail case competition, sponsored by VF Corporation and Canadian Tire Corporation.
This opportunity brings students teams from around the world together virtually for a crash course in design thinking principles as they work to tackle the circular economy in the retail industry. Teams will be guided by retail mentors over the course of 7 weeks leading up to a live final's presentation event in Montreal, November 15-17, 2018.
Live Learning Stores
As a cornerstone of the Talent Pipeline, the (R)Tech Center will partner with Intel and select universities across the country to create physical, flexible, modular, multi-use experimental stores. They will be used as experimentation and interdisciplinary research spaces for new technologies, designs, marketing, merchandising, and experiences; as an event space for student competitions and hackathons; and as an educational space for students and retail executives.
Read about our program launch here.
It's an exciting moment to see a student discover retail in a new light and reimagine what a career in our industry means to them. This year is full of opportunities to engage students globally with (R)Tech and bring new life to retail through the commitment of our member companies to support campus initiatives.
To learn more about the (R)Tech Center for Innovation visit www.rtech.org; for more about the (R)Tech Talent Pipeline visit http://rtech.org/talent.