Professor sees future of merchandising in digital tech

Professor sees future of merchandising in digital tech

September 19
00:21 2012

Emily Bentley / Intern

As technology progresses with the times, merchants are finding new ways to gain ground in business with new and constantly evolving technology.

Richard Last, a lecturer in UNT’s Department of Merchandising and an expert in digital retail, has been involved in e-commerce since its start.

In 1994, he had a major role in helping JCPenney become the first department store online.

The site’s launch was successful, opening a new set of doors for the company and contributing to a new platform the rest of the business world would soon begin using in full force.

Last has remained heavily involved in the online retail industry and now directs UNT’s digital retail bachelor’s degree program.

“This program is a very valuable thing for a student,” Last said. “There are a lot of career choices in retail, but the real growth is in e-commerce. With the growth in digital retail will come a growth in job opportunities.”

The program not only teaches students how to navigate the world of e-commerce, but shows how every form of technology can be used to a marketer’s advantage.

“We are teaching students to use mobile devices, iPads, cell phones, along with different venues of social media to bring traffic into the stores,” Last said. “As technology develops, with it comes new implications for selling.”

The College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism prides itself on creating new opportunities for students. Digital retaining senior Nickolas Wood was majoring in business until he learned about the industry of digital retail.

“I’d worked retail before,” Woods said. “However, it wasn’t until I was introduced to digital retailing that my interest really peaked. The program has been really great for me because it has taught me a lot, as well as presenting me great opportunities like being able to attend the National Retail Federation’s Big Show two years in a row.”

The merchandising college is one of very few in the nation to offer a digital retail degree.

“One of the big pros of being a part of this is the fact we are one of very few schools to have this program,” Woods said. “But we also have incredible instructors like Mr. Last who are able to teach us not only about how things were, but how they’re going to become.”

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