Learn it Today, Use it Tomorrow: An Independent Study with Sears Holding Corporation

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Our mission at LFGSM is to provide the best business management education possible. Academically, we strive to set our students up with a broad knowledge base in the areas that are critical for today’s evolving business environment which, in turn, can be applied in a variety of professional settings. Often times, through programs like Global Focus and, most recently, a U.S.-based corporate partnership, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in real-world scenarios requiring the application of the leadership, management and analytical skills acquired at LFGSM.

This past summer, three MBA students in my Strategic Thinking class-Wendi Frederick, Jason Grala and Konstantin Kozhemyakov had the incredible opportunity to participate in an independent groupsearsstudy with Sears Holding Corporation (SHC). The objective of the study was to apply the skills learned in our class to a competitive analysis of the Shop Your Way program by SHC. The goal of this analysis was to provide recommendations as to how they could make the program more efficient and attract more customers. The students used several different avenues to examine the Shop Your Way program including online shopping, retail field trips, focus groups and personal interviews. Weekly conference calls with the team at SHC, including Rob Gerlach, divisional vice president and Paula Douglas, manager of loyalty programs. These calls offered students the opportunity to review progress reports, gather expert insights and stay connected.

Through intense review of the loyalty landscape, including 10-20 loyalty programs, the team was able to identify what draws in a customer and keeps them there – and that was brand. The details of the loyalty program are not what keeps people walking through the door, it is the brand. The team took this information and began thinking about what this meant for SHC. How could the company win loyalty in the retail marketplace? It came down to a unique value proposition. Student participant, Wendi Frederick, felt this made the most sense for the program moving forward.

Frederick said, “As the best cost, integrated retailer focusing on specific demographics, SHC could create an enjoyable shopping experience and build momentum for their loyalty program. Personal shopping, brand partnership and use of connective technology between the online and retail experience were a few of the recommended organization activities to support the proposed value proposition.”

These recommendations were received well by the SHC team.

“Having the LFGSM MBA students complete an analysis of the Shop Your Way program provided unique insights for our marketing team,” said Gerlach. “The approach taken by the students was professional, comprehensive and validated many hypotheses about our business model. We look forward to welcoming more students to participate in this partnership going forward.”

Having our students participate in this study ties into our mission at LFGSM of making significant business contributions. Through the immersive and interactive experiences in the classroom and in business, we are able to put our “learn today, apply tomorrow” Principles into action. This was not only a phenomenal opportunity for our students but a worthwhile one for the team at SHC. We hope to offer more of these opportunities in the future.

If any businesses are interested in partnering with LFGSM and inviting our students to apply their knowledge and expertise to a project, please contact Bryan J. Watkins, Ed.D., Vice President and Chief Academic Officer  at bwatkins@lfgsm.edu.


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