May 20 • 3 min read

Consumers are seeking the fastest and most cost effective ways to shop. During the 2021 Target Case Competition, students pitched their case studies which focused on expanding how customers shop Target products. This year’s competition was Making Room for Flexible Fulfillment, and the contestants were asked to find strategies to fulfill customer needs and emphasize supply chains. 

The Target Case Competition is sponsored by the Target Corporation and hosted by the Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD). Katie Gerst, associate professor of practice for Marketing and Supply Chain Management, is responsible for selecting the case that students will focus on providing solutions for each year. 

“I chose fulfillment and supply chain for the theme this year because this topic takes into account everything we are going through right now in the business world,” says Gerst. “This theme also focuses on everything that our society is getting used to.”

The students’ pitches included options like store pickup, ship from store and ship to store. These approaches ultimately allow for more effective ways to shop that positively impacts the guest experience and Target’s bottom line. 

“Despite the competition being virtual for the second year in a row, the judges were impressed with the caliber of work from the 10 teams that participated,” says Gerst. “Some of the judges even mentioned that the students who went to the finals were some of the best they have seen yet,” says Gerst. 

The first place winners of the competition were roommates, Lilianna Ruby, double major in Finance and Economics and Shelby Green, double major in Actuarial Science and Risk management and Insurance. 

With one month to work on the case, Ruby and Green focused on optimizing products with the most ideal solution, while keeping cost down. “We concentrated on the fact that Target is already doing much to optimize their supply chain, which the judges really appreciated,” says Green. “So we looked at what Target’s competitors were doing.”

“When we looked at Target and what they could potentially do, we thought of using the stores as fulfillment centers,” says Ruby. “It was interesting to see that some of the things we suggested were ideas that Target said they were going to put into place. For instance, after we submitted our case study, Target announced they were going to do a driver delivery service, which was one of our focuses.”

Both Ruby and Green emphasized that this win meant a lot to them because they were able to reap the benefits of their progress since competing in the Target Competition during their freshman year. Their first year competing, they received third place. Last year, they placed second. 

“The atmosphere of the in person event is amazing,” says Ruby. “We both enjoyed dressing up and being in the same room with the competitors and judges when they announced the winners. However, we were still able to virtually present the same exact way we would in person. Being roommates also allowed us to present our case in the same room.”

They also mentioned how they appreciated the way that the judges announced the winners of the competition through a video presentation. 

“It was great to directly hear from the judges. Overall they provided us with the best experience they could have with these circumstances,” says Green.

Actuarial ScienceCenter for Student Professional DevelopmentExperiential LearningFox Experiential EducationMarketing and Supply ChainTarget Case CompetitionTarget Corporation