This spring, the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism opened UNT's new Global Digital Retailing Research Center, the first interdisciplinary center in the U.S. with a complete focus on digital retailing as a research hub and resource for industry. Through its Digital Executive Education Program, or DEEP, the center has started workshops covering online consumer experiences, branding in digital retailing and other topics for executives of companies around the world. Bringing together industry professionals and academics, the center will offer competitive industry-financed grants for faculty and student research and testing of online stores, social media websites, smartphone applications and other technology. The center also hosts student educational events, such as the Executive + Scholar Lecture Series, launched in September.
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The center houses UNT's Consumer Experiences in Digital Environments research cluster, in which faculty members in different disciplines focus on digital knowledge and analytics, networked information and retrieval, international retailing, consumer behavior and other topics. Researchers will test websites, social media and other technology.
College Dean Judith Forney compares the evolution of digital retailing to the industrial revolution of the 19th century, and says that UNT is helping to lead the way.
"The difference in the digital revolution is its speed of change, global impact and the unprecedented economic and social power of consumers in the marketplace," she says. "Our industry partners seek out graduates of our digital retailing programs because they are unique in their analytical skills for online merchandising, understand the big picture of digital retailing and can identify problems and find solutions."