RE-THINKING MANAGEMENT EDUCATION
Ever since Prof. Dr. Thomas Rudolph started lecturing at the
University of St. Gallen, he envisioned students managing a real store one day.
In 2017, his dream became reality:
Together with his team, he developed a unique retail management class, where graduate students improve the sales and profitability in a real-life setting.
This website summarizes the 7 factors which make this course unique.
Instead of sitting in the class room, the students are working twice a week in a real store.
Instead of learning theory by heart, we translate theory into action.
We offer students the opportunity to work on site with the sales managers of four partner companies and boost profitability at the point-of-sale.
The students are granted a lot of freedom: They can move shelves, relocate products and adjust the communication in the store.
In the first part of the course, an interactive, two-day "Retail Marathon" will teach students the fundamentals of applied retail marketing to increase profitability in stationary retail. They can then apply this knowledge directly in their partner store and test its practical relevance.
Instead of believing in the power of knowledge, we use sophisticated tools to measure and improve the impact of in-store marketing measures.
We use thermographic cameras in order to facilitate the students' decision-making process. The cameras are installed especially for the course and generate so-called 'heat maps' with information about customer flows and dwell times at certain points in the store. On the trail of customer behavior, these maps are used to locate unpopular and popular zones of a store and strategically reposition products.
A tailor-made sales app gives students an insight into the daily sales figures of their and the competing management-led stores. In this way the students can see how successful the measures of the respective groups are in comparison to other stores from the same retailer.
3D STORE MODELS
On request, the participating stores are being scanned with 3D cameras. This enables students to digitally walk through the store, analyze it and discuss measures outside the opening hours and without disturbing the customers.
Instead of acquiring abstract knowledge, students are strengthening their social competences while learning from managers and employees at the point-of-sale.
"Dealing with frontline employees sharpens the social competence of the students - they get to experience the challenges of good management and the complexity of retailing. They also realize how important good communication with employees is for the success of a store."
Prof. Dr. Thomas Rudolph
Director of the Institute of Retail Management
University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Learning mainly happens in the partner stores. The students visit their stores several times a week and meet their lecturer in the store for coaching sessions. Throughout the project, the lecturer maintains close contact with the students and advises them on implementations, helps with the analysis of the data and supports decision making.
Instead of just listening to a lecture, students engage in discussions with the lecturer during insightful coaching sessions.
Instead of just studying for the best grades, students compete with management teams for the biggest sales impact.
*Actual score board retrieved from the sales app after one semester of competition between graduate students and managers in a major Swiss grocery retailer.
Throughout the entire project period, each student store is directly compared with management-led stores of the same company. Our algorithm-driven application translates sales figures into an actual scoreboard.
This gamification approach does not only empower the students but also the frontline employees.
Instead of writing another exam, the students are asked to create a creative and insightful video.
All videos were produced by graduate students as part of a master-level course at the University of St.Gallen. The respective partner companies approved the content and publication.
WHAT STUDENTS SAY
“I would like to express my gratitude to the professors and assistants who built this wonderful course.”
University of St. Gallen
Institute of Retail Management
9000 St. Gallen