Retail Management Syllabus

                                  Fall 2004 Semester: Dr. Mark Houston

             Office: 339 Cornell Hall / Phone: 884-9707 / e-mail:

                 Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 10:00-10:45am and 1:00-1:45pm
                         Other times by appointment (please call or e-mail first).


        I’m glad you are here. Since you are investing your time and money, I will do my best to make
the course up-to-date, applicable and interesting.


         Marketing is about people. What do people want? Why do they want it? How can I find out
about their wants? How do you produce and deliver the things that people want? Marketing is also about
money and business. Companies have to sell products or services to consumers at a profit or else receive
support from some other source to stay in existence. If no money comes in, then the doors will eventually
shut. So companies are trying to find out and do what it takes to become the customer’s choice at the
retail level. In this class we focus on the retail settings where customers and a company come into direct
contact -- the “moment of truth.”


i.   To introduce you to the field of retail management. We will take a strategic approach to retail
     management, emphasizing the things that influence the decisions made by retailers. While we will
     borrow some concepts and theories from the social sciences to better understand the psychological
     and inter-personal aspects of retailing, we will also look at “how to do it” to begin to prepare you for
     a career in retailing. My goal is for you to learn and apply to the problems and issues faced by
     retailers today your understanding of retailing, the retailing environment, and the financial
     implications of strategic retail decisions.
ii. To refine the communication and interpersonal skills necessary for success in both upper-division
     course work and the “real world.” Skills in writing, group work, presenting and attention to detail are
     keys when it comes to job hunting time. Poor communication skills are the number one complaint
     that employers have about recent college graduates.
iii. Become aware of current happenings in the “real world” of retailing.
iv. Enjoy ourselves while we accomplish all of the above.

        This class is an introduction to retail management. You will be expected to read (and think
about) the text, but class will not be a re-hash of what you read. Lectures will introduce topics and to
bring your attention to key points. I will try to involve you in a discussion. I will not stand in one spot
and read a 75-minute lecture. Videos, group exercises, case analyses, group projects, student
presentations and dialogue will help you understand and apply the information and provide variety. The
more you participate -- by sharing examples, opinions and experiences -- the more valuable (and fun)
class will be for us all.
         You will receive the grade you earn in this class. The grade will be solely a result of your
performance on the assignments and class participation. While I want you to feel free to come and talk
with me about problems or concerns, I will not adjust grades because of any factors outside of the course
work (e.g., GPA trouble, work conflicts, personal problems). Please know that I am concerned about you
and want you to do well, but there is also a need to be fair to all class members. No forced grade
distribution or “curve” will be used. If you earn 92% or more of the total points possible you will receive
an A, 82% to 91.99% will earn a B, 72% to 81.99% will earn a C, 60% to 71.99% will earn a D. Students
who fall just short of a grade cutoff (within three percentage points) will receive a + (for example, a
student with a 79% score would receive a C+). The total points possible in the class will depend on how
many group exercises we actually do and how many guest speakers visit class.

1. Class participation -- (up to 20 points) -- Since this class is designed to be interactive, class attendance
and participation in class discussions and activities will help you earn these points. Please feel free to
bring examples to class that illustrate the subjects we discuss. Advertisements, junk mail, new or weird
products, etc., are all good examples of how retailing concepts are used (or mis-used). Being
disrespectful to your classmates or to me will help you lose these points. Examples of good ways to lose
these points include: chatting with your seatmate when someone else is speaking, letting the door bang
shut when you have to enter or leave during a class session (please close the door quietly), etc. Since this
is an upper-level class I don’t expect to spend class time administering crowd control. You will get the
chance to do a lot of talking during class. It will, however, be done in an orderly way. Each student
deserves a classroom environment that makes it possible to concentrate and learn. The following
exercises will also impact your class participation grade:
• Group Exercises -- In class we will regularly divide up into informal small groups (3-7 people) to
     discuss and analyze cases or to solve problems. In some instances, the group will make an informal
     presentation to the class. Since this informal group work is done in class you must be in class in
     order to participate and receive credit. Small group exercises help you apply the concepts we discuss
     in larger class sessions, develop teamwork skills and learn from the experiences of your classmates.
• Individual Exercises -- For several topics in the class, I will assign homework problems, cases,
     readings, or visits to local retailers to be done individually. While I will not grade every detail of
     these assignments, they are required and you will receive credit for completing them.
• Guest Speakers -- Since this class is designed to be practical, it is good to hear from people who are
     currently on the “front lines” of retailing. We will have 1-2 guest speakers over the course of the
     semester. Attendance on the day a guest speaker is in class is mandatory. It is an important learning
     opportunity for you, and your attendance shows courtesy to our guest.

2. Examinations -- (3 tests worth 100 points each) -- Tests will include material from the text, assigned
case studies, group exercises, videos, lecture, and class discussion. The focus, as with the whole class, is
not on memorization, but on understanding. You will need to know (memorize) key terms, but I will
provide guidance as to when specific information will be required. I work hard to create tests that are
MADE BEFORE THE ORIGINAL TEST TIME. In other words, if you get sick on test day be sure to
call my office (884-9707) before class time.

3. Group Research Projects -- (180 points) -- A major component of your grade will be two formal group
projects, a smaller project due early in the semester and a larger project due in the second half of the
semester. Details will be provided in separate handouts. Each group project typically consists of two
parts: some type of presentation and a written report. Your final project grades will be based both on your
written report and your presentation, and may be influenced by a peer evaluation score. Groups will be
formed at the beginning of the semester. Each team member is expected to contribute.
1. Text -- Levy, Michael and Barton A. Weitz (2004), Retailing Management, 5th ed., Irwin/McGraw
Hill: Chicago. (ISBN: 0-07-249720-3). Also, a reading packet is available through the MU bookstore
with the article readings that are assigned. These articles can be purchased for convenience, or the
student can utilize the readings list posted on Blackboard and acquire the articles at the library.
2. Course Prerequisite -- MKT204 and junior standing.
3. Academic Dishonesty – Collaboration is a key component of this course. However, there are certain
assignments that are to be done independently, with no outside assistance. Any effort to gain an
advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. My ability to
accurately evaluate your performance depends upon your integrity at these times. The MU academic
community regards academic dishonesty as an extremely serious matter, with serious consequences that
range from probation to expulsion. When in doubt about issues regarding plagiarism, paraphrasing,
quoting, or collaboration, please consult with me immediately.
4. ADA issues – If you have a disability and need classroom accommodations, it is your responsibility to
notify me so that arrangements can be made. I will be happy to help. Please see me privately after class,
or at my office. To request academic accommodations (for example, a note taker), students must also
register with Disability Services, AO38 Brady Commons, 882-4696. It is the campus office responsible
for reviewing documentation provided by students requesting academic accommodations, and for
accommodations planning in cooperation with students and instructors, as needed and consistent with
course requirements. Another resource, MU's Adaptive Computing Technology Center, 884-2828, is
available to provide computing assistance to students with disabilities. For more information about the
rights of people with disabilities, please see or call 884-7278.
5. Important Dates – see calendar file.

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