Archive for April, 2011
Online retail sales will continue their skyward trajectory, growing by double digits each yesar and reaching nearly $280 billion by, 2015, forecasts Forrester Research. E-commerce in the United States “remains strong despite the challenging economy,” says Patti Freeman Evans, vice president and research director for Forrester, adding that online retail grew 12.6 percent in 2010
-STORES Magazine, April 2011
With e-commerce on the rise, it’s more important than ever before for your store to be competitive in the online marketplace. Innovative web commerce applications, such as MBS inSite, offer you the ability to effectively contend with other retailers looking to gain student customers.
inSite allows your students to purchase and reserve their textbooks, select in-store merchandise, create a wish list of desired items, and even redeem loyalty points they may have earned on past purchases. Making your website interactive, inSite allows you to display links to the most popular social media sites so students can easily share their favorite items, as well as incorporate a rating system for streamlined product reviews.
Faculty members can also use the application to browse textbooks and submit adoptions through Faculty Center Network. This feature enables them to search through extensive bibliographic information on more than 600,000 textbook titles and then seamlessly compile and email adoption lists directly to your store—increasing the speed of adoption submittals.
Many stores worry that e-commerce solutions will be difficult to implement or maintain, however, inSite doesn’t require any extensive hardware, software, or maintenance and automatically updates any activity in all of your MBS applications.
For more information on how your store can stay competitive in the e-commerce arena, contact your inSite rep, your systems sales consultant or email@example.com.
A social media presence is a must. But simply creating accounts for your store on these sites doesn’t cut it anymore. Each week, we’ll explore a new way your store can enhance their online presence in our Social Media Series to make sure you’re taking full advantage of these interactive outlets.
Facebook Pages is a perfect example of a site your store can use to showcase all it has to offer. However, many stores simply fill out the basic information and either leave the page inactive or utilize only the basic functions, such as status updates. Make sure your bookstore explores all the interactive features Facebook Pages has to offer! You can easily customize your Page to draw attention to your brand, highlight your products, and add credibility to your image.
Let’s start simple: have you taken full advantage of your default profile picture? Many users don’t realize that you can increase the size of your main picture to make it as large as 180 x 540 pixels! This immediately increases your visibility to fans and makes your store stand out from the crowd, offering easy recognition within a sea of similar sized pictures on the search or newsfeed page. This slight change can act as a strong call out to viewers, especially for promotional campaigns.
All you have to do is create a larger image based on the size specifications above and upload it as normal. Click ‘Edit Page’ from your profile, select the ‘Profile Picture’ tab to the left and browse for the file. You can then tweak the size and display of the image that appears on your wall posts by clicking the ‘Edit Thumbnail’ link underneath your picture.
While great for capturing attention, larger avatars should be used in moderation. In some cases, you may want to highlight the content of your page, and an eye-catching image can detract from your important message. So before you make the change, think about the big picture: where do you want your visitor’s eyes to go? The answer
will be different depending on what your store is promoting at that time and you should change image sizes accordingly.
Try using large profile pictures for special sales and promoting events like textbook buyback, while keeping your store’s logo or other pictures standard size. Find the mix that works for your specific goals, but remember to vary your default pictures frequently to keep fans interested and traffic to your page constant.
Want to learn more social media strategies? Stay tuned! Check back daily to make sure you doesn’t miss our tips on new ways to expand your online presence.
If you have a certain topic you’d like to see covered in our Social Media Series (or otherwise) please let us know by posting on our Facebook wall or through the Contact Us page! Don’t forget to ‘Like’ Us on Facebook too!
Motivation can be a highly effective marketing tool, which is why many stores consider providing incentives to increase attendance at events. Don’t feel like you have to spend an arm and a leg just to get your student’s feet through the door, though. Offering just a few big-ticket items, like the iPad, is great; but with the odds of winning so low, students sometimes dismiss this type of contest all together. Instead, try enhancing your selection by adding less expensive prizes, more often, to amp up excitement.
Tura Brink, Assistant Textbook Manager at Humboldt State University Bookstore, utilized this concept and put her creativity into action to boost traffic at her store’s buy. “My goal was to maximize the money we were working with, by finding a variety of lower price items we could provide in a large quantity,” she explained. “I started by looking at Oriental Trading Company, and finding a few items I thought students would find fun and excitable. Then, I surveyed my student employees to see what they’d be interested in receiving and had them choose the best options.”
Among an array of other unique prizes, including piñatas, inflatable coolers, and gift certificates, adhesive moustaches were one of HSU Bookstore’s most talked about incentives at their buyback last fall. To publicize the event, Brink created a window display that showcased all of the available items. Signs that read ‘You could win one of these amazing prizes’ covered with an amusing variety of moustaches, however, drew the most attention. “Our main goal was to show students how many chances they had to win, and everything that was available,” she said. “The display definitely generated a lot of curiosity from students!”
With very little effort, Brink brought excitement to the store by integrating her incentives into the actual buying process. After completing a transaction, students are normally provided with a paper receipt. Using this routine, she randomized her program by simply inserting different colored sheets into each ream of receipt paper.
Every color corresponded to a certain prize and was added to the ream based on the total number available, so that there were less colors corresponding to expensive prizes, and more for the lower-priced items. Students who received a colored receipt were then directed on how to redeem them for the appropriate item right in the bookstore. This tactic not only provided winning students with instant gratification for their participation but also motivated others to do the same.
Student feedback throughout the buy reinforced the idea that even small prizes can create a big impact. “Students loved it,” Brink said. “I kept hearing how cool it was, and a few students even asked me how I came up with the idea!” In fact, Brink saw people wearing their moustaches not only on the campus, but around town too, which created more buzz for the store’s event.
Building off this success, Brink creates themes for each of her buys, tailoring everything from the promotional materials to the incentives to match. “We had a Dinosaur theme, with prizes like coloring books and grab bag items, and are looking into doing Disco next, based on a suggestion from a student,” she added. “It’s all about getting the students excited and having them get involved in the process, it makes it so much more fun!”
To learn more about how you can integrate incentives into your buyback, visit Buyback by Design and download our promotional catalog to explore our Co-Op items, providing stores with cool stuff at half the price. Talk with your MBS Representative for more information.
As both a simple and effective marketing technique, banners have become an integral part of nearly every college campus. Over time, however, events come to an end and designs are inevitably altered, leaving countless banners to simply go to waste. Recognizing this issue, Iowa State University’s University Marketing Department decided to find a more eco-friendly use for their old banners by partnering with priorLIFE, a green initiative for Britten, Inc., one of the largest banner producers in the U.S.
Through their partnership, the school was able to send their unused banners to priorLIFE where they were refabricated into reusable tote bags. Approached by University Marketing, the book store was then offered the option of reselling these unique items.
“When I first heard about the product I was a little unsure,” admits Amy DeLashmutt, Iowa State University Book Store Marketing Manager. “But, the company agreed to send a sample, and once I saw it I was completely sold!”
Available in limited quantities, the large tote bags come complete with two pockets. Positioned as a unique piece of campus history, they were even customized with a label featuring information on the school’s Live Green Initiative. And, because they’re made of vinyl, the bags are also waterproof and, therefore, extremely multipurpose.
“They are much more than we expected!” adds DeLashmutt. “I actually bought one for myself, and I love the fact that I can take it along to the beach for wet towels, or have my kids spill juice on it, and not have to worry about ruining the bag!”
To get the word out about their newest product, the store took a simple approach. In-store signs featured photos of the actual banners flying on campus, highlighting how the bags were made. Leveraging their online presence, ISU Book Store then posted similar information and photos on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as their website. A prominent display within the store called out visitor’s attention, while a press release, through University Marketing, gained them a spot on the local news broadcast!
“We didn’t have to spend a dime on advertising,” she said. “We used our resources strategically to gain as much free press as possible. These bags are so unique that they sell very well on their own; you just have to tell people about them!”
As a result of their efforts, the store was able to sell 127 of their nearly 300 bags, at a retail price of $29.99, in just over a week! Because no two bags are alike, customers were excited about the prospect of sorting through the large variety and finding their favorite banners from years past. “We’ve seen two types of customers buying the bags,” Delashmutt explained, ”there’s those that are cause-oriented and looking for a reusable product, and also customers that just think it’s really cool. I’d say it’s about a 60:40 divide.”
The one common denominator between the two types of customers, though, is that they both are coming in and looking for the unique item, bringing welcomed traffic to the ISU Bookstore. “We were fortunate to be at the right place at the right time,” she said. “The Marketing Department could have gone to any retailer to sell these bags, but they chose us. That’s why I think it’s so important to be connected to your campus.”
Competition for customers is at an all time high, and with so many consumer options available building loyalty is essential to your store’s success. Stacy Elofir, University Store Director at Towson University, recognized just that and decided to take action. “After speaking with other stores about their customer loyalty programs at last year’s MBS Systems Users Symposium, I was inspired to look into the idea and pursue creating my own,” she explained.
Based on a streamlined version of her favorite shoe store’s program, Stacy was able to create a simple yet effective loyalty structure, with the hope of positively impacting both sales and sentiment about the store. Providing one reward point for each dollar spent on qualifying purchases, excluding certain merchandise such as computer hardware and graduation products, Tiger Rewards offers the opportunity for students to earn gift cards redeemable at the University Store.
With a simple sign-up, students begin the program by visiting the store’s website using their phone number, and providing their number to the cashier at the time of their purchase. Starting this February, University Store first began their program with a soft rollout, to ensure the program was running correctly, by making it available to their website customers.
Working with the Art Services Department at Towson, they then developed both social media and in-store marketing strategies to spread the word about the program. University Store utilized its large Facebook fan base to solicit new members through status updates and an electronic sign-up form. The store also endorses the program to passer-bys with a large window cling displayed out front, and promotional pieces given to customers, as pictured.
It didn’t take long to catch on! The program has gained thousands of members with over 250,000 outstanding reward points in just over two months! “So far, Tiger Rewards has been super successful,” Elofir said. “It’s become a huge selling point for our store and helped to continually drive traffic. We’ve even gained extra publicity with articles covering the program in our campus newspaper and eNewsletter.”
Tiger Rewards has gone beyond just being successful for the store, however, and accomplished its main goal: to build loyalty among student customers. Feedback on the program has been overwhelmingly positive and enhanced a feeling of good will toward the store, Elofir explained.
“The students love it! During Destination Towson, our welcome program for newly accepted students, we had a ton of students and parents come tour the bookstore and every one of them signed up for Tiger Rewards. Many of them expressed how great of an idea the program was and some even asked me why we hadn’t done it sooner – it was great!”
Talk with your MBS Representative to learn more about how to set up a customer loyalty program at your store, today!
Showcasing the latest in bookstore technology, last year’s MBS Systems Users Symposium experienced a record-breaking attendance, and this year is sure to be no different. Planning is already well underway for this year’s event and we want to make sure you’re a part of it!
Held at our headquarters in Columbia, Missouri, the 7th annual Symposium is set to take place October 18-20, 2011. Combining free training on a variety of MBS products and services, as well as valuable networking opportunities with other bookstores and MBS Staff, the Symposium is the customer training experience you won’t want to miss.
Don’t miss out on one of the best investments in your MBS Total Store System. Pre-Register now to stay up to date on everything Symposium related and ensure your chance to attend this anticipated event!
Jason Taylor, Vice President of Platform Strategy at Usablenet, discusses the popularity of QR Codes and how retailers can utilize them in their marketing efforts in this excerpt. View the full article here.
Chances are that you’ve seen a few QR (Quick Response) codes by now – the small black and white two-dimensional bar codes that have started showing up everywhere from magazine advertisements to storefront window displays. QR codes are a physical link that connects the online and offline world — a powerful tool businesses can use to make it simple for consumers to engage with their brand.
According to Jumpscan, QR code scanning increased by 1,200% from July to December 2010. Social media users are a key driver of this growth, with 57% of Facebook and Twitter users reporting that they’ve scanned at least one QR code in the past year. Further, according to a February survey of U.S. smartphone users by MGH, 32% of respondents said they’ve scanned a QR code. Of those, 53% said they used the code to get a coupon or discount and 72% said they were more likely to remember an advertisement with a QR code
The QR code is a simple and effective tool that brands can integrate into their overall mobile marketing strategies to more deeply engage a new generation of digitally savvy consumers. And as smartphones continue their skyrocketing adoption rate — nearly 1 in 2 Americans will own a smartphone by Christmas 2011 — it is important for businesses to embrace the simplicity of the QR code as a way to enhance the customer experience, drive traffic, and connect with consumers wherever they are.
As consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets continues to increase at a staggering rate, the retail industry has taken notice of the massive value that a comprehensive mobile strategy provides to their bottom lines. Since a new generation of consumers is increasingly using the mobile Web as a primary gateway to the Internet, the nation’s retailers are determined to more deeply engage with consumers and strengthen the link between their physical stores and the mobile Web. What retailers have quickly realized is that new mobile technologies can make shopping not only easier for consumers, but also more lucrative for themselves.
One of the most effective ways retailers can take advantage of QR codes is by integrating them into print advertisements as a vehicle to incentivize users to visit their brand on the mobile Web. After scanning a QR code in an ad, a consumer would be directly linked to a product, a special coupon or offer, or other exclusive content. Target is a great example of a retailer that has seized the opportunity to integrate QR codes into its advertising. In a recent campaign, for example, Target directed readers who scanned its QR codes to videos featuring style expert Sabrina Soto, during which she shares information and tips on how to use Target home decor and furnishing products.
Another powerful way for retailers to use QR codes is by incorporating them into the in-store experience — directing shoppers who scan the codes to enhanced product information, reviews, or other related content online. Successfully enhancing the in-store shopping experience, Macy’s recent “Backstage Pass” campaign encourages shoppers to scan QR codes included on product displays in order to access exclusive video content that provides fashion inspiration, advice, and tips from style icons and experts like Martha Stewart, Tommy Hilfiger, and others.
Additionally, Best Buy was an early mover on QR code technology and last year added QR codes to all of its product information tags. Users who scan the QR codes on Best Buy product tags are directed to the product detail page on Best Buy’s mobile site. Demonstrating the emphasis that Best Buy places on QR codes, a Best Buy executive was recently quoted by Advertising Age as saying that they view QR codes as a “personal shopping assistant.”
In addition to their consumer benefits, QR codes also present a unique opportunity for retailers to capture crucial customer information. For example, retail brands can easily include a quick sign-up area on the QR destination page that encourages visitors to enter their email address in order to receive special loyalty deals, exclusive content, or other store information.
inSite Content Manager now offers a flexible, modular page layout to help customize your online store. We have completely redesigned the file interface for images and documents that allow you to add content to any page with ease. These innovative enhancements also allow you to customize additional navigation options, including submenus and design your store with full CSS support. When you enable the new inSite Content Manger, it will not simply change your existing site, but rather allow you to maintain your current store while building an improved iCM site.
University of Wisconsin-Madison recently enhanced their store’s site using the inSite Content Manager and saw immediate benefits to the updated system.
“Utilizing the inSite Content Manager feature has helped us provide a very user-friendly site to our customers,” explains Pat McGowan, President of University Book Stores at University of Wisconsin–Madison. “MBS inSite is very flexible allowing us to promote the items we want so our customers see the most relevant items first. Whenever we have questions, we know we can call the MBS support team to help us solve our business challenges.”
Contact your inSite or Systems Sales Representative today to get started enhancing your store’s site!
Billboards, commercials, radio stations, status updates, tweets, and the list goes on…. With so many mediums to market your message, it can be hard to know which will be effective, and even more complicated, what to say. While there’s no magic equation to calculate how to best reach your students, don’t get caught up in the notion that big is always better. Rather than just focusing your promotions around large-scale and difficult tactics, remember that there are many simple, yet often overlooked, strategies that are both easy to implement, and communicate exactly what your store needs to say.
As buyback season quickly approaches, one relevant example can be seen at the Phoenix Bookstore at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where they decided to advertise using what was right at their fingertips – literally. Maximizing the potential of their MBS POS system, Phoenix Bookstore tailored the messages displayed on their receipts, as well as on each register, to not only endorse their buy, but also promote their central message of savings. (As seen in the circled areas on the image)
This approach took virtually no time to implement, but allowed the store to place their main message directly in the hands of their customer base at zero additional cost. If your store is handing receipts to students anyway, why not take advantage of this feature? Ensure your store creates a message that communicates not only what you do best, but also your core values.
Whether your mission is to provide the lowest prices, best service, or highest quality, drawing attention to your distinction from other stores is essential. In this case, Phoenix Bookstore was able to promote their event while establishing themselves as a store that appreciated a community atmosphere based on the best interest of their students.
It may seem like a small step, but using what you already have to the fullest when preparing a marketing plan can save time, money, and sanity! Remember, you can change and tailor your message on both your POS screen and receipts to correspond with certain times of the year. If you are unsure of how to set this feature, MBS POS Support is always more than happy to help. You can also talk with your MBS Systems representative for more information.
What is Tokenization? Dramatically improving data security, Paymetric and MBS POS offer a tokenization solution that completely eliminates the storage of sensitive cardholder data. Together, they quickly reduce the scope and financial burden of compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). When utilizing tokenization technology, credit card data is captured at MBS POS/EPS and is swapped for a surrogate value known as a “token,” without affecting payment processing.
How can tokenization help your store? MBS POS then continues its operations normally with tokens that span the entirety of the customer relationship. With no credit card numbers stored on the system, colleges and universities are less exposed to a data security breach, and the effort required to perform the annual PCI audit is greatly relaxed.
About Our Partner PAYMETRIC
Paymetric, Inc. is the leading provider of integrated and secure electronic payment acceptance solutions that enable companies to streamline the order-to-cash process, reduce the scope and financial burden of achieving PCI compliance, and improve return on electronic payment acceptance. Paymetric’s solutions support virtually every type of electronic payment in any enterprise system where payment is accepted. Paymetric is recognized as an industry leader and is a three-time award-winning SAP certified partner. Visit www.paymetric.com for additional information.
Want to learn more? You can review our webinar at any time by visiting the link below that explains how tokenization can work for you.
What can you expect to learn from this webinar?
- How tokenization works, the advantages and disadvantages
- How tokenization technology can help you mitigate the risk of a data security breach
- How to simplify PCI compliance requirements and qualify for SAQ-C, reducing the cost and time to complete your annual audit
- Understand the transaction volume capacity that Paymetric is capable of handling
Take some time and review http://www.paymetric.com/leverage-tokenization-mbs-pos/ to learn why tokenization is the solution to your bookstore’s payment security needs.