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Students Tackle Showrooming

Washington — A team of college students won scholarships from the NRF Foundation and American Express for their comprehensive marketing strategy to address showrooming.

The six-student team, drawn from universities across the country, competed in the annual Aspire2Retail Intercollegiate Challenge, which is designed to spur career interest in retailing.

This year’s challenge required students to describe all aspects of showrooming, outline its threats and opportunities, and propose customer service practices that enhance loyalty and maximize the use of the latest technologies.

A financial, merchandising and retail operations plan also had to be produced to complete and pass the challenge.

“Retailers have to move fast to keep pace with customers’ demands, and every business unit — from marketing to merchandising to IT — plays a huge role in addressing showrooming behavior,” said NRF Foundation executive director Ellen Davis. “This year’s challenge was a real example of something that retail companies are dealing with every day.”

The team, led by Jerry O’Brien, director of Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present its winning business plan at the NRF’s Annual Convention & Expo in New York on Jan. 14. Each student will also receive a $2,500 scholarship.