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MIS Students Compete in National Case Competition

The three UT Case Competition Participants flash the Hook 'Em sign.

From April 3 to April 6, 2013, MIS students Kaitlin Onofrey, Brent Lovett, and Chelsea Baskin represented the McCombs School of Business in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Carlson School of Business’ CoMIS case competition. The CoMIS case competition is a student-run event in which teams from all over the country are presented with a case and asked to present a solution within 24 hours of receiving that case. This year, the case revolved around competition sponsor, Target, and the company’s move from strict retail to grocery store within the next few years. Competitors tried to solve the issue of better leverage technology to improve the grocery experience for Target shoppers, and make these shoppers think of Target first when it came to fresh groceries.

The team of Onofrey, Lovett, and Baskin, or “Team InfinITe” presented a three-phased approach to this challenge. The first phase involved a reboot of the Target mobile app, equipped with push notification coupons based on prior purchases (gathered by data analytics), and a Daily Deals game to incentivize customer use of the app. The rebooted app also included enhanced location services to help shoppers easily navigate the revamped Target grocery aisles. The first phase also included a website redesign and employee training.

Phase two included the implementation of QR codes that provided recipes for the everyday Target shoppers that encouraged the use of Target brand food products. This phase also brought in some non-IT based solutions including chef presentations to increase customer traffic and improve shopper experience, a redesign of the Target produce areas to look more like a farmers market, and a partnership with local farmers to supply stores with local produce to give back to local communities and improve perceptions of food freshness.

Phase three suggested the use of a queue management system and an RFID self-checkout system to make the checkout experience quicker for the average customer. Both of these systems provided for major inventory-savings benefits for Target in financial analysis despite the ambitious nature of implementation of the systems.

Ultimately, the goal of the team’s solution was to make customers think of Target first when deciding between grocery stores. The team felt they accomplished this by pushing Target’s corporate motto of “fun, fast, & friendly” within each phase of the solution.

Onofrey, Lovett, and Baskin also had the opportunity to go on site visits around Minneapolis including visits to UnitedHealthGroup, Medtronic, and, Target. The McCombs team also got to network with some of the leaders in technology from these companies at a dinner hosted at the University of Minnesota.  

“It was such a wonderful experience,” said Baskin. “Not only did I learn from the competition itself, but from the site visits and the networking dinners. It was also enlightening to come together with business schools from around the nation to find out what they are learning in their schools.”

It was a successful trip for Onofrey, Lovett, and Baskin, who finished the competition with smiles on their faces and their horns up.   

-Article by Joshua Rock