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Commercial and Retail Management

COMMERCIAL AND RETAIL MANAGEMENT

About the programme
Language: English (See language requirements)   | Place of study: Aarhus  | Commencement: August / September (no winter intake)

Introduction

The MSc in Commercial and Retail Management is based on the growing challenges faced by the consumer goods industry. It has been developed in close collaboration with prominent actors in the industry.

The degree programme prepares the student for a career in the HQ functions of the consumer goods industry and it provides an understanding of the industry’s specific challenges, which paves the way for a faster climb up the career ladder.

The students will acquire qualifications in areas such as retail strategy and innovation, consumer behaviour, business negotiations, pricing, performance management as well as range, category and brand management. 

Deep understanding of the value chain

Today, traditional retail trade is supplemented with e-commerce and various hybrids, and more and more communication takes place on social media. Companies must therefore be able to handle an omni-channel situation where a number of different sales and communication channels must be optimised in relation to each other. In addition, the ability to handle big data is becoming increasingly important in the consumer goods industry. This has led to changes in the relationship between supplier and retailer. The supplier must increasingly consider the entire value chain right through to the consumer, while the retailer must structure its supplier relations with an eye for how to create value for the consumer.

The traditional division of the B2B and B2C markets is thus developing towards a much-needed B2B2C mindset. The degree programme reflects this B2B2C mindset since the courses Supplier-retailer relations management, Business negotiations and Consumer behaviour in a retail setting cover the entire value chain from supplier to consumer. Furthermore, the students will acquire competences within areas that have a particular focus on the consumer goods industry such as retail strategy and innovation, pricing, performance and margin management, stock and waste management as well as range, category, and brand management. Digital transformation and the use of big data will play a prominent role in the programme and will recur in many courses.

Collaboration with prominent actors in the industry 

The degree programme has been developed in collaboration with prominent actors in the consumer goods industry. These are gathered in a founding partners group consisting of Salling Group, Arla, Bestseller, Danish Crown, MLDKKFI, Dagrofa, Jysk and Rema 1000. The companies will play an important role in the degree programme and its courses through guest lectures, internships and Master's theses collaborations. They will also be offering a number of relevant student jobs. Internships at the above-mentioned companies are an important part of the programme. Students are encouraged to complete an internship, and the participating companies guarantee a significant number of internship positions.

Career

The degree programme prepares the students for a career in various HQ functions in the consumer goods industry. Based on the value chain approach, the students will be able to undertake many functions in either the supply or retail link of the value chain, especially within the consumer goods industry; from category manager or procurement manager to key account manager.    

MSc in Commercial and Retail Management The MSc in Commercial and Retail Management has been developed in close collaboration with prominent actors in the industry. The companies will be offering a number of relevant student jobs, internships and guest lectures. It will prepare you for a career in various HQ functions in the consumer goods industry.

Admission Requirements

Students that hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Business Administration (HA) or variants hereof from Aarhus University can pursue direct admission to the MSc programmes in Economics and Business Administration after they complete their Bachelor’s degree programme.

If you hold a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Administration, Bsc (HA) from one of the Danish universities, you fulfill the specific admission requirement for the Master’s degree programmes in Economics and Business Administration (cand.merc.).

If you hold a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (HD), you can also pursue admission to the MSc programmes in Economics and Business Administration. However, it is required that you complete supplementary courses corresponding to 20 ECTS. For information on which supplementary courses you should take please check the overview of supplementary courses for HD (available only in Danish).   

Students that hold a degree from another university

If you hold a degree from another university, your qualifications will be assessed once you have applied for admission. You can also have your qualifications pre-assessed by Aarhus University, Admission between 1 September and 31 October in order to find out if you meet the admission requirements. Please contact ma.admission@au.dk for further information about pre-assessments between 1 September and 31 October.  The assessment will prioritize the sufficient content of the following subjects and ECTS-points:    

Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

15 ECTS

Managerial Economics and Operations Management

15 ECTS

Marketing

7,5 ECTS

Finance and Accounting

15 ECTS

Organisation- and Leadership Theory

7,5 ECTS

Microeconomics

5 ECTS

Additional ECTS points within the abovementioned areas

15 ECTS

Total ECTS within Economics and Business Administration

80 ECTS

Admission to the MSc in Economics and Business Administration for applicants with a professional bachelor’s degree (professionsbachelorer) in 2020

To be eligible for admission to the MSc programmes, applicants with a specific professional bachelor’s degree must either have completed specific elective courses as part of their qualifying exam or pass supplementary courses of 20-30 ECTS from the BSc in Economics and Business Administration. In this table, the requirements for elective courses and supplementary courses are laid out. All supplementary courses are offered during the spring semester in both Danish and English.

The possibility of taking supplementary courses depends on your specific professional bachelor’s degree. Supplementary course(s) must be completed before commencement of study. You can find further information about the rules on supplementary Bachelor’s courses here.

Language requirements

Since English is the language of instruction in all subjects, all applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency. 
Please see the page on language requirements.

Programme structure

Academic regulations

Preliminary programme structure:

                    

(Subject to change)


The degree programme consists of two semesters in the first year which cover the compulsory courses in the programme specialisation and two semesters in the last year which are reserved for the student's own specialisation.

In the first semester you follow the prerequisite courses that form the methodological and academic basis for the further study programme. The course “Introduction to Value Chain Management” will be completed with an exam in week 43.

In the second semester you follow the specialisation courses of the programme. The semester consists of two blocks of three courses. The first three courses will be ending with an exam before the Easter holidays.

In the third semester, you can choose elective courses within your areas of interest. The courses can be taken either at Aarhus BSS during the semester, at the AU Summer University or at one of our more than 300 partner universities abroad. You can also participate in internship programmes either in Denmark or abroad.

The fourth semester is devoted to the Master's thesis. You may freely choose the topic of the thesis and thereby get a chance to concentrate on and specialise in a specific field of interest. The thesis may be written in collaboration with another student or it may be the result of your individual effort. When the thesis has been submitted, it is defended before the academic advisor as well as an external examiner.


Description of courses

Introduction to Value Chain Management (5 ECTS)
When: First semester (ends in week 41)
Exam: Take-home assignment (8 hours)
Course responsible: Lars Esbjerg

Making products and services available for consumption or use in different markets typically involves a number of different, mutually dependent companies connected through value chains. Value chains should be understood as orchestrated networks of organizations that facilitate the creation of value for and by consumers. The course focuses on developing and maintaining relationships between a focal firm and its customers, channel members, suppliers, competitors and other actors in its network that are relevant for the creation of value for and by consumers. Specifically, the course takes a B-to-B-to-C perspective in order to highlight that the activities of different actors in value chains are interdependent.

Topics include:
Value creation, joint value creation in value chains, commodity chains, networks, inter-organisational relationships and value chain governance, digitalization of value chain management, and logistics across the supplier-retailer-consumer value chain. 

Consumer Behaviour in a Retail Setting (5 ECTS)
When: First semester (after week 43)
Exam: 4-hour written
Course responsible: Tobias Otterbring

Understanding how consumers select, purchase, use, and dispose products and services, and how they satisfy their desires, is pertinent to successfully managing the marketing function. Within retailing, these behaviors become even more complex, since consumers interact with a number of factors (e.g., store environment, assortment sizes, presence of other buyers) that influence their decision-making procceses, purchase patterns, and choice behaviour.

Topics include:
Servicescapes and the retail atmosphere, Future perspectives on retailing, Consumer behaviour processes (motivation, perception, attention, and learning), Choice architecture and decision-making processes, New media and technology in the retail space, Social influence, Factors influencing consumer buying behaviour, Consumer behaviour in online and offline contexts, Customer journeys and touchpoints, and Consumer behaviour methods 

Retail Strategy and Commercial Innovation (10 ECTS)
When: First semester
Exam: Two small take-home assignments + 4 hour written exam
Course responsible: Sascha Steinmann

The course introduces students to the topic of retail strategy with a particular focus on the management of innovation and current trends.

Topics include:
Store formats and their dynamics, Horizontal and vertical channel strategies, Multi-channel and omni-channel strategies, Central concepts and theories of a retail market strategy, The strategic retail planning process, Innovation and trend management tools, Current trends in retailing and the consumer goods industry (such as digitalization and sustainability).

Commercial and Retail Research Methods (10 ECTS)
When: First semester
Exam: Take-home assignment (group) + Oral 30 minutes (individual)
Course responsible: Jakob Arnoldi 

The course progresses from the methodological and statistical foundations taught in a typical undergraduate program in Economics and Business Administration. It provides students with knowledge of the designs, data collection, and data analysis techniques commonly used in management and marketing research, with special emphasis on the methods most applicable for Marketing Research. The course will equip participants with the advanced methodological knowledge, understanding and skills required for successful completion of the Master of Science Programme in Marketing. Importantly, the course provides students with practical skills for research design, data collection and analysis 

Topics include:
Research design, research questions, role of theory in research designs, quantitative and qualitative research, mixed methods designs, survey designs, experiments, interview data, preference measurements, factor analysis, regression analysis, cluster analysis.

Pricing Strategy (5 ECTS)
When: Second semester (ends before Easter)
Exam: 4-hour written
Course responsible: Birger Boutrup Jensen

Setting the price correctly is fundamental to a firm’s profitability in a competitive business environment. Yet, firms in diverse industries implement ad-hoc rules and trial-and-error approaches to pricing that significantly reduce profits. Sustainable and profitable pricing stands on three legs: costs, competition and customer value. Some managers focus too much on costs, while others focus too much on competition. Decisions made in this way typically are lacking.

Topics include:
Pricing as strategy, Pricing psychology, Odd-pricing, Price promotion types, Price setting and adaptation, Product line pricing, Price sensitivity effects, Price segmentation, Pricing research methods, Online pricing considerations, Dynamic pricing.

Commercial Negotiation Skills (5 ECTS)
When: Second semester (ends before Easter)
Exam: Three small written assignments (during and directly after the course)
Course responsible: Peter Kesting

This course focuses on two particular goals: to improve the participants’ theoretical understanding of negotiations and to enhance their individual negotiation and decision-making skills. The concept of the course is guided by the basic assumption that both goals can be best achieved by practical exercise. Thus, the course mainly emphasizes on the simulation and critical analysis of different negotiation settings.

Topics include:
Introduction to the nature, structure, and course of negotiations, Basic negotiation techniques (bargaining techniques, collaborative negotiation etc.), Improving negotiation power, International/cross cultural negotiations, Electronic negotiations, and Mediation and conflict resolution.

Supplier-retailer Relations Management (5 ECTS)
When: Second semester (ends before Easter)
Exam: 3-hour written
Course responsible: Nina Ladegaard

The course will first introduce students to sourcing in the context of retail and commercial companies and their, respective, value chains. Focus will mainly be on up-stream activities related to managing the supply base. Students will learn about the particular challenges of sourcing in a retail and commercial setting, placed in between production and consumption, and its complex dependencies with other management tasks.

The search, evaluation and selection of suppliers will be the starting point. In this connection, the emerging opportunities connected to global sourcing, use of intermediaries and e-sourcing will be key topics. A holistic understanding of the process from producer to end-consumer, which includes not just sourcing, but logistics, promotion, branding, in-store management and sales among others, will characterize the course. Managing, maintaining and optimizing supplier performance will form a key part of curriculum also. The course will also provide detailed insights into the critical task of developing and implementing strategic sourcing choices, including supply base design, supply risk management, and supplier management and differentiation. Hence, students will gain knowledge on the management of supplier relationships in retail and commercial settings.

Range, Category and Brand Management (5 ECTS)
When: Second semester (starts after Easter)
Exam: 48-hour take-home assignment (case-based)
Course responsible: Sascha Steinmann

The course introduces students to the topic of range, category and brand management.

The course covers the following topics, among others:

  • Assortment planning
  • Category management process
  • Category roles and profitability
  • Category portfolio management and growth
  • Manufacturer perspective of category management
  • Manufacturers as category captains
  • Store layout and design, space management
  • Retail branding
  • Retail brand architecture
  • Private label management 

Stock and Waste Management (5 ECTS)
When: Second semester (starts after Easter)
Exam: Group report + 20 min oral
Course responsible: Anders Thorsteinsson (ECON)

The course provides students with knowledge on the topics of stock and waste management with particular focus at the retail level of a distribution system.

The course covers the following main topics:

  • Distributions systems, including multi- and omni-channel systems
  • Stock control principles and replenishment policies
  • Inventory holding costs, customer service levels, and stock performance
  • Forecasting and lead-time management
  • Return processes and management of waste and obsoletion
  • Information systems for stock and waste management

Performance Management (5 ECTS)
When: Second semester (starts after Easter)
Exam: 4-hour written
Course responsible: Steen Nielsen (ECON

The course introduces students to the topic of performance measurement and profit management with a particular focus on measurement and the implications of decisions. The course covers the following topics, among others:

  • Planning and decision making.
  • Financial modelling.
  • Cost and profit analysis and estimation.
  • Management of operational performance.
  • Integrated financial and non-financial measures.
  • Inter-organisational performance management.
  • Incentive systems in organizations.

Student life

 

Learning in an International Context

At Aarhus BSS, we conduct research at the highest academic level.

All researchers employed are engaged in research projects covering a wide range of different subjects and focusing on knowledge and skills considered essential for professional business activities in the global marketplace. All faculty have both research and teaching responsibilities which means that our teaching is continually based on the latest research results.

Aarhus BSS is very internationally oriented. The broad scope of our research activities and educational programmes enable us to attract researchers, teachers, and students from all over the world, and this creates an international environment for research and learning in which academic views are exchanged, experiences are gathered and friendships are formed.

Aarhus University is a leading university in Denmark in building student exchange opportunities. The university encourages all students to spend time studying abroad. Every year, more than 700 students from Aarhus BSS go abroad to participate in exchange programmes around the world at our more than 300 partner universities. About the same number of students from all over the world come to participate in the exchange programme in Aarhus, and this contributes to a truly international learning atmosphere.

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Career

The degree programme prepares the students for a career in various HQ functions in the consumer goods industry. The students’ understanding of the specific challenges of the industry paves the way for a faster climb up the career ladder. Based on the value chain approach, the students will be able to undertake many functions in either the supply or retail link of the supply chain, especially within the consumer goods industry; from category manager or procurement manager to key account manager.