Center for Retail Transformation: Our Work

Driving Transformation in Retail

Empowering the future of retailthrough education, research, and connectionsnow.

Retail is experiencing a transformation. To thrive in today’s dynamic environment, members in the retail ecosystem need to be empowered with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to identify trends and make better decisions.

The work of the Center of Retail Transformation focuses on addressing the challenges facing small-and-medium-sized retailers and others in the industry, by developing innovative educational programs to develop retail leaders, producing impactful thought leadership to advance retail research, and facilitating discovery and partnerships to connect members of the retail ecosystem to better navigate the transformation.

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Developing Retail Leaders

The Center of Retail Transformation is dedicated to developing future-ready retail leaders ready for tomorrow’s retail. We aim to provide innovative educational opportunities and programs to all students to develop the skills most in demand to succeed in this new world of retail.  

If you are interested in any of our educational programs, please contact us for more information at  

Modern Retail Curriculum 

Courses focused on retailing are offered within the undergraduate and graduate programs. The Center works with faculty to help align the curriculum, including current and new offerings, with the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to succeed in the dynamic retail environment 

Working closely with the Costello College of Business, the Center for Retail Transformation is working to develop education programs that would be the most valuable to undergraduate and graduate level students. These potential programs include, but are not limited to: concentrations/majors, minors, certificates, and internship/co-op programs.   

Careers in Retail Series

The “Careers in Retail” Series is a program designed to excite the next generation of retail leaders by exposing students to the exciting opportunities available in modern retail. This series encourages one to think differently about a career in retail by bringing current leaders of retailers, start-ups, and vendors to campus, either physically or virtually, to talk with students about their own career and potential career paths for students.  

We also work with the Costello College of Business' Office of Career Services to help run the ProfessionalQuest panel in Retail. 

Retail in the Classroom

Retail in the Classroom is a program designed to provide experiential learning opportunities to students by incorporating projects in courses that aim to solve current problems facing retailers. 

We hope to expand these activities through the launch of a student-led, faculty advised Transformation Clinic, where students will work with small businesses to help develop solutions to their challenges. 


The RETAIL Lab is a program designed to provide opportunities for undergraduate students to actively participate in research projects as well as creative and entrepreneurial activities related to retail. 

Projects in the RETAIL lab will examine how the retail industry is transforming, with respect to technology, analytics, supply chains, sustainability, its people, and the customer experience, and to help small-and-medium size retailers better navigate this transformation. While each project is uniquely tailored to its objectives, some common tasks include: data collection and fieldwork (e.g., interviews, surveys, experiments, observations); data cleaning, coding, and analysis; preparing visualizations and dashboards; developing articles, reports, and multimedia videos designed to share insights with both the research and retail community.  

As a member of the RETAIL Lab, students can be a part of the Collaborative Research Group, where a cohort works on research projects and creative activities under the supervision of a faculty mentor; or students can be matched one-on-one with a faculty member to assist with their retail-related academic research. 

Undergraduate students from all disciplines are actively encouraged to become a part of the RETAIL lab. Our goal is to match students with retail-related projects that help to develop multiple research skills and/or a portfolio of work that can be highlighted on their resume. Students can join the lab either as an OSCAR Research Assistant (must be work-study eligible), as an Independent Study, or as a volunteer.  

If you are interested in joining or finding out more about the RETAIL lab, please email us at

Customized Educational Programs

For retailers of any size, the Center can work with you to develop customized educational programs. These programs could include, but are not limited to: workshops, retreats, training seminars/programs, and certificates. These in-person or virtual programs can help provide the informational content necessary to ready—upskill or reskill—members of the retail system for the future.  


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Advancing Retail Research

The Center of Retail Transformation is committed to producing fact-based, data-driven research to inform retail practice. We aim to share insightful findings on critical issues in retail through publishing academic and white papers, as well as working with partners to address critical issues in retail through research. 

If you are interested in any of our research activities, please contact us for more information at  

Cutting Edge Retail Research

Research addressing critical issues in retail by the Center's affiliate faculty is presented at conferences and published in top tier academic journals. 

We are working to develop a signature white paper series to provide research insights into trends and changes occurring in the retail industry. 

The Center also partners with various entities (e.g., companies, analysts, government entities) to conduct groundbreaking research in retail. For information on some of our projects, see: 

  • The State of the Retail Consumer, 2023: This report builds a profile of the U.S. retail consumer; projecting spending behavior, and identifying the reasons consumers select in-store or online shopping experiences. Download the report
  • Relay Autonomous Vehicle Project: It is the center’s point of view that autonomous vehicles can disrupt traditional business models. In this study, in partnership with Fairfax county, we examine customer perceptions to autonomous vehicles and barriers to adoption. 

Business Problems Brown Bag

The Business Problems Brown Bag is a program designed to connect retailers and other members in the retail ecosystem with our affiliate faculty to discuss how insights for their current problems may be addressed with research. These hour-long lunchtime sessions provide a casual forum for companies and faculty to benefit from each other’s experience and expertise, as well as to gain a new perspective.  


For retailers of any size, the Center can help turn your data into insights. The Data-to-Insights program seeks to connect retailers with researchers to find solutions to problems using analytics. We can assist at all stages of the research process, from problem identification and data collection to analyzing and interpreting data. Data-to-Insights actions could include, but are not limited to: participating as a class project for undergraduate or graduate courses, providing internships to student researchers, collaborating with faculty researchers on problems that can be the foundation of published research articles or case studies, and retaining Center researchers for consulting services. 


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Connecting the Retail Ecosystem

The Center of Retail Transformation is passionate about facilitating discovery and fostering connections across all members of the retail ecosystem. We aim to shape global conversations on the transformation of retail and foster partnerships and collaborations with the retail industry, trade associations, and other governmental actors. 

If you are interested in any of our work, please contact us for more information at  

Transforming Retail Series

The Transforming Retail Series is our signature program of talks, lectures, and panels that feature innovative leaders, experts, and researchers in retail who will engage in candid conversations on the challenges confronting a specific retail sector, how it is being transformed or can be transformed, and why it matters.  

Supporting Startup and Small Retailers

Supporting startup and small retailers is essential to our mission. The Center provides advising and mentoring services to help provide companies with the knowledge and tools to make better decisions in the dynamic retail environment.  

We hope to expand these activities through the addition of a Retailer-in-Residence program, where experts in retail transformation would work closely with a community of startups and small retailers to help advise how to navigate their challenges.  

Informing Policies on Retail

The Center of Retail Transformation works with state and local trade associations and government agencies to help inform and implement policies to support small-and-medium-sized business and the retail industry. We have actively influenced policy at the local level, and in partnership with various flagship organizations are launching a survey that will help inform policy towards SMB retail nationally.