McMillon Gift to Fund Retail Innovation and Technology Lab on U of A Campus

McMillon Gift to Fund Retail Innovation and Technology Lab on U of A Campus
Photo Submitted

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A former retail space in the Harmon Parking Facility on the University of Arkansas campus will be transformed into a retail innovation and technology lab through the generosity of Walmart Chief Executive Officer and Sam M. Walton College of Business alumnus Doug McMillon.

A gift made by McMillon and his wife, Shelley, will be used to create the McMillon Family Retail Innovation and Technology Lab in the space previously occupied by The Parking Spot store in the parking garage on the south side of campus. The funds come from a gift the McMillons made in 2014.

“It’s exciting to see the Retail Innovation and Technology Lab come to life,” Doug McMillon said. “Customers want a shopping experience that blends seamlessly into their lives, and that requires a constant focus on new technologies and services. We hope this lab will spark great ideas, create a community around retail innovation and demonstrate the incredible possibilities of a career in the industry. We can’t wait to see the passion and creativity the students of the U of A will bring to this work.”

The McMillon Family Retail Innovation Fund will increase opportunities for advanced retail studies. The endowment will fund the new Retail Innovation and Technology Lab being designed and implemented on the south side of campus.

The lab is believed to be the first interactive, open-to-the-public university retail lab created to test technologies expected to change the future of retail. Its first series of experiments are expected to launch by March.

“We are grateful for Doug’s engagement in enhancing our retail programs and are excited by the creation of the McMillon Family Retail Innovation and Technology Lab,” said Matthew A. Waller, interim Walton College dean. “This space will inspire students throughout the university to bring innovative, creative ideas and discover new ways to think about retail. This will help to highlight an education that involves innovation and a customer focused mindset that is both global and digital. It will allow us to provide education and conduct research on the integration of physical and digital shopping, including major business functions such as operation, logistics, buying, merchandising, etc.”

Sue Sedberry, managing director of the Retail Innovations Lab in the Walton College’s Center for Retailing Excellence, said, “The high-trafficked garage location previously managed by the bookstore will be transformed into a flexible facility allowing testing and experimentation of technologies ranging from asset protection devices, merchandise displays, online ordering services, omni-fulfillment models and other retail-related processes. Students and faculty will have the opportunity to plan, execute and analyze various retail designs and services to better understand how technology is changing the retail landscape.”

She said the new lab would complement “fab labs and maker labs” springing up on campus and across Northwest Arkansas. “The McMillon Family Retail Innovation and Technology Lab will serve as the showroom for retail industry ideas,” Sedberry said. Initial projects will be related to lighting, music or store aesthetics; experiments with supply chain processes including drones and scooters for delivery of online orders; and demonstrations of new technology such as holograms and augmented reality.

“The goal of the accessible lab, which will be open to all U of A students to experience, is to educate, entertain, evaluate and create retailing for the future,” Sedberry said.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Sue Sedberry, managing director, Retail Innovation and Technology Lab
Sam M. Walton College of Business
479-575-3621, ssedberry@uark.edu

David L. Speer, director of communications
Sam M. Walton College of Business
479-575-2539, dlspeer@uark.edu

Headlines

Williams Named 2021 AAAED President's Award Recipient

The American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, the oldest operating association of professionals in equal opportunity profession, named Danielle Williams the recipient of the President's Award.

Gary Jackson Selected as November's Student Leader of the Month

Sophomore Gary Jackson has been selected as the Student Leader of the Month for November 2021. Originally from Pocahontas, Arkansas, Gary came to the U of A to study biology and chemistry.

AECT Graduate Student Analyzes Dissonance Between Eating Habits and Religious Views

Karli Stringer, a graduate student, examined the relationship between nutritional habits and religious views for her master's thesis, finding that Christian beliefs didn't necessarily translate to healthy eating.

Full Circle Food Pantry 10th Birthday Collaborative Cookbook Is Here

The food pantry's cookbook is available digitally or as a physical copy for a donation of $25 or more. A donation of $50 or more will also sponsor a holiday meal kit for a client of the pantry.

Students Advocating Stronger Sisterhood Holiday Canned Food Drive

Students Advocating Stronger Sisterhood will host a canned food drive from noon to 2 p.m., Monday, Dec. 6, in front of the Food Court at the Arkansas Student Union.

News Daily