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Rocket Science Retailing: What Research Opportunities Does it Create for Us?

Monday, September 23, 2002 - 1:30pm - 2:20pm
Keller 3-180
Marshall Fisher (University of Pennsylvania)
Retailing is a big industry. In the U.S., retail business represents forty percent of the economy and is the largest employer. Retail supply chain management is still more art than science, but this is changing rapidly as retailers begin to apply analytic models to the huge volume of data they are collecting on consumer purchases and preferences. This industry-wide movement resembles the transformation of Wall Street that occurred in the 1970's when physicists and other 'rocket scientists' applied their analytic skills to investment decisions.

The rocket science retailing movement will create enormous opportunities for our profession. To better understand these opportunities, Ananth Raman and I have been working with about 40 leading retailers to assess their progress towards rocket science retailing and to accelerate that progress through selected research projects with the retailers. This talk will describe findings from this work including:

1) How do retail supply chains function?
2) What decisions arise in retail supply chain management that lend themselves to analysis?
3) Synopsis of prior research on selected topics including managing short life cycle products to maximize life cycle profits, merchandise testing and store level assortment planning?
4) What are the exciting future research frontiers?