What does Target have that Amazon doesn’t? A physical store. Four Gabelli School of Business students recently decided it was time to bring that whole store online.
Graham Batstone (GSB ’12), Andriana Antonucci (GSB ’14), Margot Sikorski (GSB ’14), Alyssa Marrotta (GSB ’13) and Marisa Tremaglio (GSB ’13) captured first place in the Target company’s Campus Grants Competition at Fordham by proposing an innovative web site of a different sort — one that would give Target a competitive edge over Amazon.
The students’ strategy was born from multiple trips to Target stores and from speaking to the staff. They decided to focus on creating a more personal shopping experience. It’s something that companies across industries are seeking out, through vehicles from Google ads to Starbucks coffee cups.
“Target wanted an idea that was new and different, and that is exactly what the virtual store is,” Margot said. “We thought people would appreciate the feeling of walking through the store, ‘trying on’ clothes online, and having a customer service desk where they can ask any question and get an answer back right away.”
Winning the prize was no easy feat. Eighty Fordham students took the Target challenge as part of their Integrated Marketing Communications class, led by instructor Linda Luca.
Professor Luca teaches her integrating marketing students to look beyond basic advertising: In today’s world, public relations, social media and sales promotion must carry the same core message, style and tone. The winning team’s virtual-store proposal accomplished that by crafting an experience in harmony with what the company puts across in other media channels.
Professor Luca’s students got a glimpse into the world of marketing, where not all solutions are neatly packaged. They developed creative solutions even though they didn’t have access to the materials that an in-house Target team or hired consultant would have. The winning team, for example, had a hard time getting sales data and online traffic reports from Target because the staff was not permitted to release it to outsiders.
Graham, Andriana, Margot, Alyssa and Marisa shared a prize of $2,500 for wowing the judges, one of whom was recent alumna Anna Samiotes, who works in human resources for Target. The hands-on experience, though, will likely end up being even more valuable.