Industry-infused education evolution

Companies share technological advances to better prepare retailing students for the jobs of today, tomorrow

Retailing department chair Mark Rosenbaum arrived at the University of South Carolina in 2017 with a mission in mind: Increase the department’s focus on digital and omnichannel retailing education. As part of that mission, Rosenbaum is strengthening collaboration with technology leaders in the retail industry to redesign courses and provide students with in-demand skillsets.

Beginning in spring 2018, retail management students in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management will have access to new courses offering hands-on software training in everything from e-commerce to logistics.

The new partnerships powering the curriculum innovation include a $6 million in-kind software donation from JDA Software Group that will allow students to practice using supply chain management software that is used by global companies such as Nike, Starbucks and Volvo. The donation is one of the largest of its kind for the college and will provide students and faculty with a suite of software tools used to manage inventory planning, floor space and logistics.

“Perhaps no other major is going through a state of flux like retailing,” Rosenbaum says. “With the decline of brick-and-mortar stores and the rise of e-commerce, we’re working with industry partners to co-create timely, relevant courses that are in lockstep with industry trends. Technology moves quickly, so we can no longer wait for knowledge to be printed in a traditional textbook.”

In addition to JDA, selected HRSM as its first academic partner. The global web development company is providing retailing students and professors at Carolina with free access to its platform so that they can build and actually operate e-commerce stores as part of the curriculum. It will also roll out a new certification program for students and faculty later this year.

“This is a school of practice, not just theory. Our success depends on our ability to provide students with opportunities for gainful employment.”         -Mark Rosenbaum

“We can now have students learning e-commerce management on a unified platform in multiple classes across all HRSM disciplines,” Rosenbaum says. "Having access to powerful software and the opportunity to be innovative with it in a collaborative learning environment where professors are mentors and coaches adds tremendous value to students’ education and supports early entrepreneurship."

The industry-infused teaching approach and emphasis on partnerships is a continuation of the college’s focus on helping students find great jobs in their field, and a sign of retail’s trajectory towards a tech-dominated future.

Taking a comprehensive look at how technology has changed the industry, the college's retailing department is also collaborating with customer relationship management leader and social media monitoring company Keyhole. USC will prepare students for the modern world of customer satisfaction management, which no longer relies on surveys and happens in real time across multiple social channels. Through the partnerships, students will earn training certificates along with their academic credit.

“This is a school of practice, not just theory. Our success depends on our ability to provide students with opportunities for gainful employment,” Rosenbaum says. “We’re creating partnerships with companies who want to help reinvent education and put students in an awesome position to thrive in the changing retail marketplace.”

The tech-centric course offerings will begin showing up in retail management and fashion merchandising classes this semester and take full effect in fall 2018.

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