Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption

“Retail is an industry that is being disrupted. It’s very, very hypercompetitive now. Retailers have to keep improving and innovating to meet their customers’ expectations or they’re going to go out of business.”
– Barbara Kahn, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School.

Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption is an online retail management certificate for anyone who wants to apply lessons from the digital disruption in the retail industry in the rapidly-changing business world. Established retailers looking to make radical changes, entrepreneurs who want to start their own business, or anyone interested in understanding the environment in which they are shopping will benefit from this 4-week certificate.

The main objective of Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption is to provide learners with a framework that they can use to create a competitive strategy to survive and thrive in today’s — and tomorrow’s — marketplace. The lessons taught in this 4-week certificate course can be applied to a myriad of industries and shifting markets. Taught by internationally-recognized retail expert and scholar, Barbara Kahn, this management certificate is designed to help you achieve your business goals. 

Discover the Kahn Retailing Success Matrix and the secrets behind the success of retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Learn how successful brands have differentiated themselves by creating an exceptional customer experience. Most importantly, learn how you can leverage your leadership advantage to gain a competitive edge in the business world in response to digital disruption in the retail industry.

Why Study Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption?

  • $22.640 Trillion: The amount spent by shoppers in 2017, with rising ecommerce being a contributing factor to the 5.8% growth year-over-year.1
  • 10.2%: The percentage of total retail sales worldwide in 2017 made up by ecommerce.1
  • $4.5 Trillion: The amount that global retail ecommerce sales will reach in 2021.3

1 https://www.emarketer.com/Report/Worldwide-Retail-Ecommerce-Sales-eMarketers-Updated-Forecast-New-Mcommerce-Estimates-20162021/2002182
2 https://www.disruptiveadvertising.com/ppc/ecommerce/2018-ecommerce-statistics/

Program Details

Start Dates: 
Open enrollment

4 weeks

1–4 hours/week

Program Format:
100% Online

Program Tuition:



Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption Course Modules


In this module, you’ll analyze disruptive changes within the retail industry. You’ll examine both brands that have collapsed and brands that have flourished and discover the new ways Generation Z shops. You’ll learn about the Principle of Customer Value and the Principle of Differential Advantage and apply this foundational knowledge to the Kahn Retailing Success Matrix. Through the application of the matrix to different retail brands, you’ll be able to better understand why some brands struggle and some succeed in today’s new shopping environment. Finally, by studying the history of the growth of Amazon, you’ll gain a better understanding of Amazon’s strategy and apply it to your business. By the end of this module, you’ll be able to utilize the Kahn Retailing Success Matrix to better devise a successful strategy for your brand, and have a better understanding of how to navigate a retail industry that has been defined by Amazon’s success.

Module Overview

  • Course Introduction
  • Changes in the Industry
  • Kahn Retailing Success Matrix
  • Amazon the Disruptor
  • The Future of Amazon
  • Quiz: Module 1 Quiz


In this module, you’ll examine retail strategies beyond Amazon’s, and discover how to apply these strategies to accomplish your company’s goals. First, you’ll explore Walmart’s Everyday Low Price Strategy, and analyze how Walmart is expanding their business into different quadrants of the Retailing Success Matrix. You’ll also learn successful strategies in the omni-channel customer experience and how to eliminate common pain points for your customers. Through case studies of brands that have differentiated themselves on creating an exceptional customer experience, you’ll learn methods to cultivate the in-store experience that online shopping can’t offer. By the end of this module, you’ll have gained valuable insight into the strategies of successful brands outside of Amazon and will be able to create effective strategies to expand your business.

Module Overview

  • Everyday Low Price Strategies
  • Maximize Omni-Channel Customer Experience
  • Differentiate on Customer Experience: Primary Leadership Strategy
  • Store Experiences as Second Leadership Value: Treasure Hunt
  • Quiz: Module 2 Quiz


This module was designed to help you gain a more thorough understanding of customer decision-making. Through an examination of the research on perceived variety and actual variety, you’ll learn the psychological processing behind customer choice, and how to apply this knowledge to increase sales. You’ll also explore the retail strategies of brands such as Rebecca Minkoff and Sephora to examine the effectiveness of utilizing technology to enhance the in-store shopping experience. By the end of this module, you’ll be able to employ an empirical approach to increasing the variety of your products and provide a more connected and immersive shopping experience for your customers.

Module Overview

  • Shopping Reality: Too Much Choice
  • Shopping Reality: Choice Conflict
  • Increased Perceived Variety
  • Horizontal vs Vertical
  • Differentiate on Customer Experience: Brand and Loyalty
  • Quiz: Module 3 Quiz


In this module, you’ll examine the strategies behind both luxury and vertical brands, and the underlying philosophy behind what makes a brand truly great. Using real-world examples, you’ll gain a better understanding of the paradox behind luxury brands, and how luxury brands leverage their brand equity to expand their business. You’ll also explore the strategies of Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVB) such as Warby Parker to determine the right balance between physical and online retail presences while still maintaining the core values of your brand. By the end of this module, you’ll have a deeper understanding of retail brand strategies and be able to apply successful retail strategies to your brands.

Module Overview

  • Paradox of Luxury
  • Vertical Brands
  • Vertical Brands – Zara
  • What Makes a Brand Great?
  • DNVB Brand Strategy
  • Course Conclusion
  • Quiz: Module 4 Quiz

Ready to get started?

Key Program Takeaways

Participants will learn how to:

  • Develop online and offline retail strategies
  • Differentiate between effective and ineffective digital strategies
  • Develop the right leadership approach to achieve specific business goals

Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption Faculty

Barbara E. Kahn, PhD

Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor; Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School

Faculty research interests include:

  • Brand loyalty
  • Brand management
  • Consumer choice
  • Customer relationship management
  • Customization
  • Decisions under uncertainty/ambiguity
  • Medical and financial services
  • Price promotions
  • Product assortments
  • Retailing
  • Variety seeking

Barbara Kahn is an internationally recognized scholar on brand loyalty, patient decision-making, retail assortment issues, and variety seeking. She has published more than 60 articles in leading academic journals and appeared on media platforms such as CNN and Forbes. She has also authored several books, including Global Brand Power: Leveraging Branding for Long-Term Growth and The Shopping Revolution: How Successful Retailers Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption.

See Faculty Bio

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Learn more about Wharton Online’s Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption Certificate before enrolling in the program.

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