UNT students named semifinalists for scholarships from National Retail Federation

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 15:53

DENTON (UNT), Texas — Four students in the University of North Texas College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism are among 25 students in the nation named semifinalists in the 2015 Ray Greenly Scholarship Competition sponsored by the National Retail Federation.

The UNT students — Maggie Brown, a senior from Flower Mound; Nichole Fallis, a senior from San Antonio; Taylar Gomez, a sophomore from Friendswood and Marcy Plefka, a senior from Hurst — are all double majoring in digital retailing and merchandising. Each student will each receive $1,500 to attend the Annual Summit and Student Program of Shop.org, the digital retailing arm of the National Retail Federation. Oct. 5-7 in Philadelphia.

“Nineteen of the 25 semifinalists are undergraduate students, and we are very proud at UNT to have four of those 19 students in our digital retailing degree program,” said Richard Last, director of the digital retailing degree program in UNT's College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism.

The Greenly Scholarship Competition was established in 2006 and is named in honor of a longtime staff member of Shop.org. The top scholarship is $25,000, with the four other finalists each receiving $10,000. The five finalists will be named in August.

As part of the scholarship application, students must submit a case study project describing how to improve a retailer’s existing omnichannel strategy, which may include e-commerce and mobile shopping, social media and loyalty programs and other methods of interacting with current and potential customers. The students must also create story boards to visually describe the improvements to the omnichannel strategy, as well as include two essays and letters of recommendation in the scholarship application.

Brown chose the women’s clothing retailer Chico’s, where she is currently working in a merchandising internship, for her case study. With Chico’s currently installing radio-frequency identification chips into their merchandise to help track inventory, Brown suggested the chips also be used to gather sales data, including which items are being taken into dressing rooms by customers and which items are put back on display instead of being purchased.

Fallis wrote a case study for Michaels Stores. She suggested the arts and crafts retailer use Pinterest to build connections and attract younger customers through a Create & Curate program. The program would have users complete a project using supplies from Michaels, upload an image of the project to Pinterest and tag the Michaels account.

Gomez chose Macy’s for her case study, focusing on changing the department store chain’s existing app to increase the time that customers’ items will remain in the virtual shopping cart and adding a wish list. She also suggested creating a virtual closet for the app, MyStarStylist, which will allow a user to create a personal avatar to try on garments and accessories.

Plefka chose Whole Foods Market for her case study. She recommended a Click and Go service for the food retailer that would allow customers to purchase anything in a store online and pick it up at a store, and a Scan and Go shopping option for customers to scan the price of products on their mobile phones or via in-store handheld scanners before checking out. 

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