Retro Retail

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Norton School students, UArizona BookStores create unique e-commerce website

University of Arizona Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences students traveled “back to the future” this fall, in a unique collaboration with University BookStores.

Associate professor Kathleen J. Kennedy’s Digital Retailing class created, an online store featuring retro Wildcat merchandise.

“It’s my favorite class right now because it’s a real-live thing,” said Retailing and Consumer Sciences major Carlo Dollero, a senior who was project team lead for social media promotion. “It’s real money we’re dealing with.”

The class spent four weeks working on the store concept, merchandising plan, and promotional strategy. Then they spent seven class sessions working in functional departments to create, build, and launch their fully-functional online store, integrated social media, and publicity.

Kennedy said the collaboration between a university bookstore and a student project is one-of-a-kind.

“I searched far and wide and as far as I know this is the first university class that has created and launched an e-commerce business,” Kennedy said. “And they built this from the ground up.”

The students started with a competition among teams to determine a theme. They toured the UArizona BookStores Student Union flagship location for ideas, and one group took note of existing retro-themed merchandise and decided to package it into a Back to the 80s theme.

The concept was unanimously selected by UArizona BookStores, students in the class, the three student coordinators, and their instructor.

Kennedy said there’s more than just nostalgia and fun behind it. The students applied consumer science to identify what motivates people to buy, and found that among both Gen X alums—those who attended UArizona in the 1980s and 1990s—and current students there is a demand for throwback items.

“I’ve been impressed by how engaged the students are with everything,” University BookStores assistant director of general merchandise Jake Wright said. “We’re definitely happy with the end result. They did a great job of understanding the demographic and really tying it in.”

Joel Badzinski
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences