North Texas Daily

Ninth symposium draws industry professionals

Ninth symposium draws industry professionals

March 27
22:35 2013

Ben Peyton / Senior Staff Writer

The head of Facebook’s e-commerce will be just one industry expert on hand at the 9th annual Consumer Experience Symposium themed ‘Using Social Media to Create Consumer Relationships’ from 8 a.m. to noon in the Silver Eagle Suite today.

Nicolas Franchet has been the head about e-commerce for Facebook since last April, will speak of digital retailing from the consumer and retailer’s perspectives.

The symposium is free to students and will focus on teaching students about careers in merchandising and retailing. This is also the first year that guests outside of the UNT community can attend the event by purchasing a $25 ticket, said Lisa Wallace, director of development in the college of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism.

The decision was made last year to go with the digital-themed symposium, which will give students and guests a glimpse at what industry professionals are doing to be successful retailers in the digital marketplace.

“This whole digital age is a revolution, much like the industrial revolution was in the 19th century,” said Judith Forney, dean of the school of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism said. “It is literally changing the whole environment that we live in and how we do business.”

Director of the symposium and lecturer of the merchandising and digital retail department Richard Last said the speakers were chosen for a number of reasons.

“You can’t really talk about social networks without talking about Facebook,” Last said.

Other speakers include Al Montalvo, senior director of new channels for The Body Shop, a brand that sells environmentally friendly beauty supplies and is a subsidiary of L’Oreal.

Suchit Dash, co-founder and vice president of product for IFeelGoods, will also speak. His company is a leading digital promotions company that focuses on social commerce. He created a rewards program where retailers could monetize popularity in social gaming through programs like Skype minutes or iTunes music codes instead of through traditional dollars and discounts.

The symposium will also serve as a launch pad for UNT’s new Global Digital Retailing Research Center, the first center of its kind in the country that specifically handles digital retailing or e-commerce as its own separate field from other retailing outlets, Forney said.

Last is an expert in the field of digital retailing. He founded JCPenny.com and will also be directing the new Global Digital Retailing Research Center.

The center is collaborating between industry and academia with a think tank to analyze problems and discover solutions and new ideas on how to better develop customer and retailer relationships, Forney said.

“We really want to help the retail industry solve problems,” Last said.

About 45 people, including the three experts, select UNT faculty, sponsors, and Last will meet for a private luncheon after the symposium for a first look at the new Global Digital Retailing Research Center.

“Our expectation is that this is not a local, national, [but] this is a global phenomenon and what you do in an online environment and digital environment has impact not only in Texas but Shanghai, China,” Forney said.

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