Retail Forum


Launched with guidance from Richard Jaffe '92 and David Schick, managing directors of the Stifel Nicolaus Retail Team, the Retail Forum  is an annual conference held in summer (August) that addresses key issues in operations within the retail industry. 


Organized by Investor and Consultant to Retailers Richard Jaffe, ICR, and ShopTalk in conjunction with the Deming Center, the August 2, 2017 forum topic was "Disruption to the Retail Sector and Capitalizing on the Opportunities that this Presents." The following sessions and speakers were featured:

  • Strategies for Dealing with Retail Disruption: Offense and Defense
    Dave Bassuk, Alexa Driansky, Matt Shapiro, Alix Partners
  • Bringing 21st Century Innovations to Modern Brands, Retailers and Iconic Venues
    Mike Blandina, Westfield Retail Solutions
  • Two Views of Retail Investing
    John Howard, Irving Place Capital and Ben Sun, Primary Venture Partners
  • Growing and Supporting the Future Innovators and Disruptors of Retailers
    Pano Anthos, XRC labs
  • The Personalized, Electronic Fashion Mall
    Jennie Baik, Orchard Mile
  • Building Brands and Companies in the 21st Century
    JB Osborne, Red Antler
  • Incubator for the Future of Commerce
    Sharat Alankar, Walmart's Store No 8
  • Outlook on Retail: A “no holds barred” look at our current situation and look at what the future of retail might be built upon
    Mark Cohen, Adjunct Professor and Director of Retail Studies, Columbia Business School
    Kinshuk Jerath, Associate Professor of Business, Columbia Business School


The 2016 workshop on The Rapidly Changing Form of Retail was held on August 9 and covered the following topics:

  • Omnichannel Convergence  - Antonio Nieves, Chief Financial Officer - Bonobos
  • Omnichannel Software Best Practices - Cassie Lancelloti-Young, EVP of Customer Success - Salithru; David Spitz, CEO - Channel Advisor Corporation; Mark Gally, CEO - Zaius Inc. 
  • Business Analytics -  Professor Omar Besbes, Decision, Risk and Operations Division - Columbia Business School  
  • Changing Evolution of the Mall and Retail Real Estate - Panel Discussion - Michael Berman, EVP and CFO - General Growth Properties, Inc.; David Jaimeson, EVP Asset Management and Operations – Kimco Realty Corp.; Faith Hope Consolo, Chairman, The Retail Group - Douglas Elliman Real Estate
  • The New Rules of Retail - Michael Dart, Private Equity Partner - A.T. Kearney
  • Distressed Retailing - Professor Mark Cohen, Director of Retail Studies - Columbia Business School


The 2015 workshop took place on August 11, and covered the following topics:

  • An Outlook on Wages & The Economy - Ted Gayer, Director of the Economic Studies Program at Brookings Institution (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Dept. (2007-2008)
  • The Next Wave on the Retail Store Experience - Herb Heiserman & Jeff Pollak, Architects - streetsense
  • The Millennial & Evolving Consumer - “The Sharing Economy - Implications for Consumption and Retail” -  Professor Arun Sundararajan, Authority on Collaborative Consumption - NYU Stern Business School  
  • “Consumers Care How Things Are Made” - Panel Discussion - Corporate Social Responsibility for Retailers & Brands Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness - Eileen Fisher; a fashion apparel brand Brett Schulman, CEO – Cava Grill
  • Labor Law for Retailers in the Age of Rising Minimum Wage - Rob Whitman - Retail Industry Team & Lynn Kappelman, Attorney - Seyfarth Shaw LLP


The 2014 edition took place on August 6 and we explored issues surrounding the retail industry: housing’s impact on the economy – during and since the crisis, e-commerce and omni-channel trends, digital marketing strategies and optimizing store labor investments.

  • Economy & HousingTed Gayer, Director of the Economic Studies at Brooking Institution (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Dept. 2007-2008)

  • Retail Strategy (Hedging Demand & Inventory Risks: Lessons from Benetton, Zara & Gustin Jeans)Medini Sing, Columbia Business School, Senior Lecturer in Discipline in Business: Decision, Risk and Operations

  • The Next Web Consumer ExperienceMike Smith, COO of Prior COO of

  • Omni-Channel RetailDavid Bell, Professor of Marketing Wharton. Author of “Location is (Still) Everything” – Case studies include, and

  • Electronics Product Cycles & TrendsShawn DuBravac, Chief Economist of Consumer Electronics Association

  • Retail’s Labor Model Conundrum & Supply Chain Disconnect – Zeynep Ton, Professor of MIT/Sloan and author of “The Good Jobs Strategy”


In 2013 (August 6), we hosted panel discussions on "How Washington's Decisions Will Affect Consumer Confidence & Housing", "Distribution and Fulfillment for Omni-Channel" and "History and Future of Outlet Malls".


In 2012 (August 7), we hosted panel discussions on "Global E-commerce Strategies", "The State of the Economy and the Outlook for the Consumer", and "Probabilities on the Election and How the Outcomes Could Affect Consumers".


The 2011 edition was organized on August 2, 2011 at Columbia and included panel discussions on “Union Relations with Large Retailers”, “Consumer Economics”, “Digital Branding at the Very High End”, “Trends in Retail”, and “Social Media Strategies for Consumer Brands”.


The 2010 Deming Forum on Retail took place on August 4 and included panel discussions on "Digital Age Marketing for Retailers" and "Measuring the Effect of Customer Service Levels on Customer Purchases." Among the speakers were Michael Zimbalist, Vice President of Research and Development Operations of The New York Times Company, and Marcelo Olivares, Associate Professor in the Decision, Risk, and Operations Division at Columbia Business School.