Leadership in the age of Digital Disruption

The Wharton School

The Wharton School


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About the course

Leadership in the Age of Digital Disruption is an online retail management certificate for anyone who wants to apply lessons from the digital disruption to their 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 an increasingly disrupted business world.


  • $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.
  • 10.2%: The percentage of total retail sales worldwide in 2017 made up by ecommerce.
  • $4.5 Trillion: The amount that global retail ecommerce sales will reach in 2021.

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

Course Modules

Module 1

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

Module 2

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

Module 3

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

Module 4:

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


Barbara Kahn

Barbara E. Kahn returned to The Wharton School in January 2011 to serve as the Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center. Prior to rejoining Wharton, Barbara served for three and a half years as the Dean and Schein Family Chair Professor o...

Leadership in the age of Digital Disruption at The Wharton School

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