Retail is a large component of the current business world. It involves the selling of goods and services to consumers, as opposed to wholesale where companies sell to other companies. Corporate retail, in particular, involves a single business entity operating multiple store locations that sell direct-to-consumer. According to Statistics, the retail space is a $30 trillion industry that includes over 1 million companies. As retail continues to grow in the modern world, it becomes increasingly likely that many of you will work in the retail industry at some point in your career.
With this in mind, I interviewed Autumn Crum, who graduated this past fall with a major in marketing and a minor in art history. During her time in UBWA, she served as vice president of alumni relations and member relations. Since graduating, she has been working for Bath & Body Works as an intern for the Wellness and Aromatherapy merchandising team. Autumn will also start full time there as a Merchant in Training this summer. Her previous work experience in retail is what inspired her to continue pursuing a career in corporate retail. Autumn cites that there is something “so fulfilling [about] seeing a product you’ve worked on for months out on store shelves and delighting customers”.
Corporate retail is all about the customer. Companies and their employees must “be responsive to ever changing trends… and the needs of the business”. Working in retail means being able to adapt and overcome obstacles because there are external factors that can affect a business strategy and force you to pivot. Not all projects are going to be carried out in their entirety, and even the ones that are, will often undergo several changes throughout its duration. Autumn, specifically, tries “to go in with an open mind” as she works with design, product development, and inventory to ensure the customers’ satisfaction. Once a product is out on the shelf, it is critical to monitor sales data and collaborate with other teams to gauge how the customers are responding to the product. One way Bath & Body Works likes to do this is by receiving “insights from [their] store associates and customers directly”. Corporate retail is multifaceted and complex, so it takes a lot of teamwork, communication, and planning to ensure the company is able to stick to its timelines.
As with any other industry, it is important to explore your interests and try to gain hands-on experiences. For Autumn, it was incredibly beneficial to have background experience and knowledge of retail, and she encourages others who have an interest in this industry to physically work in a retail store. Directly putting yourself in the field will give you a better perspective of the store side of retail, which will help you transition to the corporate side. Working first hand with customers will also help you better understand consumer behavior as a whole. Another thing to keep in mind is to network and reach out to people whether on LinkedIn or other platforms. Talking to others about their experiences can help you get a better feel for the industry and help you decide whether or not corporate retail is something you want to pursue. Networking is also important for getting those hands-on experiences and job opportunities.
Autumn is super excited about her future in corporate retail, and she has graciously offered to answer questions and help those interested in entering the space! You can reach out to her via email: email@example.com.