Archive for May, 2012
The use of smartphones is proliferating at a rapid pace. In turn, showrooming – the practice of researching merchandise in a retail store and then purchasing it elsewhere – is also increasingly common. It is, understandably, a thorn in the retailer’s side.
Whereas the Internet has engendered huge shifts in the way media is consumed, mobile technology is causing big changes in retail shopping behavior.
Show and sell
Comparison shopping applications, the mobile Web and QR codes enable the consumer to be more informed and savvy when they are in a retail location. Unless retailers can compete with online prices for the same product, they will lose the consumer to an online retailer at a better price somewhere on the mobile Web.
Although online price comparisons are nothing new, mobile is enabling consumers to physically view and handle merchandise, to “kick the tires,” so to speak, and then order products directly from their device from whichever merchant offers the best price.
As shopping becomes better optimized on mobile devices, showrooming will continue to emerge as a bigger problem for bricks-and-mortar retailers.
ComScore reports that the leading mobile retail activities among people using smartphones are to find a store (33 percent), compare prices (21 percent) and look for deals (20 percent).
Consequently, bricks-and-mortar retailers who suspect that their stores may be serving as showrooms need to develop better conversion tactics in their stores or they will be at risk of losing sales.
Here are four tactics that retailers may employ to fight showrooming:
1. Merchandising: Merchandising becomes critical when fighting back against showrooming since it is nearly impossible to replicate online and through mobile devices.
Fancy displays and classy arrangements are often enough to entice consumers into making the purchase. I am always in awe of how well some brands merchandise in retail stores and how poorly others do. Personally, I will buy an entire outfit that I would not have otherwise if it is merchandised well.
2. Ensure that your prices and offerings are competitive: In a world where low prices are just a few clicks away, it is crucial for bricks-and-mortar retailers to offer attractive prices that offset the shipping delays that accompany online and mobile shopping.
Furthermore, retailers who initially resisted free shipping are realizing that it is necessary to be competitive. Offering free shipping is definitely not free for a retailer or brand. Even so, 80 percent of all retailers offered some form of free shipping in the fourth quarter of 2011.
3. Pushed coupons: In my opinion, this is the best, most practical option to encourage shoppers to buy from a retailer rather than to compare prices online.
When mobile users are searching for a store location on their mobile device, retailers could take advantage of Google’s new enhancement by providing a link on the paid ad to download their mobile app.
The paid search copy could display the pushed discounts to encourage the searcher to make the download.
JoAnn Fabrics does a really nice job of pushing coupons using its mobile app. When people walk in the store and open the app, they receive a multitude of coupons that can be used to purchase products in-store.
4. Bid by location: Google has another enhancement that lets retailers bid by location, so advertisers can run unique search ads based on proximity to a particular retail location. In the search copy, they could offer discounts or coupons for brands if a purchase is made in the store.
While these tips may help bricks-and-mortar stores fend off showrooming, what is really important in all this is the lesson: Shopping today is digital, wherever it occurs. Brands must therefore align in-store merchandising and promotions with mobile and Web e-commerce strategies if they want to keep foot traffic and sales alive and well.
As many social media users know, you can connect your Facebook page and Twitter account with the click of a button. While this feature may save your store time, it has some serious downfalls, as well.
Take a look at five reasons why we recommend that you don’t link the two social networks:
Twitter moves at a fast pace and has a much higher threshold for acceptable posting levels than Facebook. Because Twitter feeds turn over so quickly, your store needs to tweet frequently to keep your message visible to followers. That means that you may tweet as many as 10-15 times a day, without showing up excessively in any of your followers’ feeds.
The same isn’t true for Facebook, however, which moves at a much slower pace. The newsfeed is slightly more static on Facebook and fans generally expect to see your store appear 1-3 times per day. By posting your tweets to your Facebook profile, you may overwhelm fans with status update after status update, and appear more as a spammer than a credible source.
The point of liking or following any page is to access exclusive information or incentives. If you post the exact same content to both your Twitter and Facebook page, then what reason do your students have to interact with both? Try to vary up both the types of content you share and times that you post so that your fans and followers benefit from being a part of both networks.
Lingo – The syntax used on Facebook and Twitter is also completely different. Twitter relies on hashtags (#), mentions (@), and abbreviations like ‘RT,’ while Facebook’s vocabulary is more typical. When tweets post to Facebook, they look out of place and students who aren’t on Twitter may be confused or annoyed by seeing their newsfeed filled with these references. Although it may take a few more minutes, make sure your message includes a format that is appropriate to the social network that you’re sharing it on.
Twitter is limited to 140 characters so posts are meant to be short and sweet, typically with a link attached to the end for more information. With a much larger character limit, however, Facebook posts are usually intended to provide a full explanation. By posting these brief tweets to your Facebook page, fans may not get the full message. Likewise, by syncing your Facebook statuses to post on Twitter, they often appear abbreviated and will have the same unfortunate affect on followers. Ensure that all your content meets the appropriate length requirement for each account.
Twitter and Facebook are two distinct networks with two distinct sets of etiquette and norms. The people you’re connected to on Twitter expect different things than those you’re connected to on Facebook (even if most of them are the same group of people). The culture of both networks is different, so if you combine them you risk losing your audience.
So, what should you do instead?
Just because you don’t link your accounts, doesn’t mean you have to spend an exorbitant amount of time crafting and sharing your content. We suggest using a third-party social media management site, such as Hootesuite or Tweetdeck, which allows you to post across social networks from one central location. These services are typically free and operate as a dashboard where you can write, schedule, and manage your messages.
That being said, it’s important to remember each of the issues above and create unique posts for Facebook and Twitter. At the very least, start by switching up the language and format you use to ensure it fits the platform. Then, work toward creating a social media strategy that guides you in what type of content to share across each network.
We’ve all had our trying days during buyback and rush. Between a steady flow of customers and questions, there are numerous challenges and our representatives always try to be ready to overcome them. However, this year, MBS Territory Manager Jeremy Roush, found himself in a predicament for which he wasn’t quite prepared. Below, he describes the unusual circumstances he found himself faced with as he was trapped in an elevator during one of this year’s buys.
Buyback is always an interesting experience. From colorful comments about the price of books to the occasional disgruntled customer, there are always new challenges to overcome and this year was certainly no exception. I had just finished a buyback and was in the process of overseeing their shipment to MBS when it all started.
Because the shipment was so large, with over 30,000 lbs of freight, it had to be sent by a third party, so I found myself waiting for a truck driver to arrive. I had received a call from the driver early that morning, asking the best way to get to campus from a nearby town.
I thought to myself, “Well Mr. Truck Driver, I’m from Canton, Ohio myself, so I have no idea!” I decided to meet him at a landmark and have him follow me there. Little did I know that driving directions would be the least of our worries that day.
Once we arrived, we learned that the campus does not allow unauthorized vehicles on the premises, for security reasons. After some persuading and some waiting, we were finally granted access and allowed to proceed to the warehouse where the books were stored.
With the day off to a slow start, the driver and I were ready to get to work; but this is where things really got interesting! Our task involved transporting 17 skids of books, one by one, through an old freight elevator (and the key word here is old!) in the back of the warehouse.
We loaded our first skid into the elevator and got a glimpse of just how old it was; we found only two buttons inside, up and down, with no floor numbers to guide us.
Despite the age of the elevator, we made six successful trips and were nearly halfway finished with transporting the books when something very unexpected happened. On the next trip, we descended down, down, down, as we had six times before, from the 4th floor when, boom! We came grinding to a halt, stuck in between two floors. So, there I was, stranded in a dark elevator with a truck driver I had only met an hour ago – not exactly the morning event I had anticipated!
Like most people would, I immediately grabbed for my cell phone only to remember one horrible detail: I had taken it out of my pocket just minutes before, leaving it with the rest of the skids of books below. In an unfortunate twist of fate, the driver’s phone was still in his truck, too.
After trying to pry the doors open to no avail, we yelled for nearly 30 minutes before we finally grabbed the attention of someone to help. From trying to pull the doors open to resetting the elevator from the outside, the elevator would not budge. A few jokes were tossed our way like “the elevator repair man is on vacation,” and “hope you boys ate a good lunch!” I sure learned a lot about the driver’s life story quickly during that wait!
Eventually, the local Fire Department had to be called and they came to our rescue. After an hour of being trapped, the doors were open and we were free!
Unfortunately, our difficulties didn’t end there, though. I still had a skid of cartons in the elevator and my only pallet jack stuck nearly 3 feet down from the closest floor. So, one by one, we had to unload that pallet on to a new one outside and lift the pallet jack out.
The remaining 10 skids had to be pulled through office hallways to another freight elevator on the other side of the building. From start to finish, this whole process took us over four hours and then, finally, the books were on their way to MBS!
Through it all, the driver was a such good sport about the situation. I received a call from him the following Monday letting me know that the load had been delivered to MBS. He said it was nice to meet me and joked that the next time there’s a call to pick up some freight for me; he will be taking the day off!
The whole experience was one I never thought I’d be put in, but it has honestly taught me the value of patience and the importance of being able to laugh at yourself, which are lessons I can take with me to future buybacks and beyond. It was certainly a Friday to remember!
The following article, written by Corie Martin for the Journal of Higher Education Web Professionals, is a great example of how colleges and institutions can put social media to use for on-campus promotions. Take a look at how Western Kentucky University was able to connect with students through foursquare as they walk you through the process from start to finish:
Part of my challenge as the manager of Creative Web Services at Western Kentucky University (WKU) is to keep our web presences interactive and fun. I like to use the tools our students use for direct communication, and I like to let them drive the conversation.
So when we got to thinking about cool, new, free (because we are a state university, after all) things we could do on campus for our students, Foursquare made a lot of sense.
WKU is a mid-sized four-year public with over 21,000 students, but on our campus we have determined that smaller is better. We don’t have a retail-heavy campus and we are not surrounded by much commerce, so generally campus check-in specials and incentives offer limited benefits to our students. We decided to try something different and shift our focus to using Foursquare as a tool to create a buzz around specific events rather than to focus on offering widespread, high-frequency specials or badges.
Becoming a 4sqCampus
We began in the spring of 2011 with a simple email to email@example.com that opened our dialogue with the staff at Foursquare. We worked with them to claim our campus venues in bulk (“Bulk Claim Venues”), set the geo-coordinates of each location and they helped us build out our page (http://www.foursquare.com/wku). The set-up process for us involved a lot of back and forth correspondence. Today, 4sqonCampus has expanded and campus administrators have the ability to do much of this on their own, as well as add their own venue managers, check-in specials and more.
Once we were all set up and ready to go it was summertime, so with no students on campus we had to decide the best way to encourage students to use the tool. We put the word out on our various social media channels, created some marketing materials, web and digital signage ads and placed flyers in summer orientation packets. Little did we know at the time that the incoming freshmen class held the key to the success of the Foursquare program on WKU’s campus!
The History of WKU2K15
Like many colleges and universities, WKU holds a special orientation week for incoming freshmen called M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan. New students have the opportunity to come to campus before the rest of the student body to move in, attend informational sessions and social events and to get acquainted with our large hilltop campus.
For the past several years, we have hosted WKU “Class of” groups on Facebook for these incoming students. Typically the students are very active in the late spring and throughout the summer, but when they arrive on campus in the fall for M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan, we never hear from them again. This was not the case with the Class of 2015. No, this year’s freshmen class joined and stuck around. They connected as a unit and identified themselves as a class, often referring to themselves as “WKU2K15,” and they actually engaged – daily! Their sense of community is what inspired us to release Foursquare at WKU to them first.
The camaraderie within the Class of 2015 was neat to witness from an administrator’s perspective. At its peak, our Class of 2015 Facebook group grew to over 1,400 students before Facebook freaked out and stopped counting them. This was over a third of our freshmen class! We decided to try something we had never tried before – we created the first ever official “Class of” t-shirts and scored some great sponsors from various student service offices to help pay for them. We printed a thousand of them with nice Foursquare at WKU QR codes on the back and set up a tent in our highest campus traffic area during three days of M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan week.
In order to get the free shirt, students had to sign up to follow WKU on Foursquare and check in to our tent. Pretty simple. We set up eight laptops and invited our t-shirt sponsors to join us at the tent to hand out swag and to help us explain to students what Foursquare is (hint: No, it is not the old schoolyard ball game). It was a brilliant move because the students started seeing the shirts walking around campus and wanted to know where to get them. In all, we handed out every last shirt that week and scored 800 new followers on our WKU Foursquare page.
The greatest thing about this project is that even today, months later, we still see our Class of 2015 shirts all over campus. Our president sported one at the freshmen convocation and one of our WKU Men’s Basketball players had his on the day our team returned from winning the conference championship game that landed WKU in the 2012 NCAA tournament!
Where we are today
With the help of our friends at Foursquare, we have used the tool to promote athletic and orientation events, and we recently hosted a check-in tent at the WKU Earth Day Festival. We are working on integrating Foursquare check-ins into our new Virtual Tour, and we are currently planning another release to the Class of 2016 when they come to campus for M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan 2012. We are also looking into creating fun events using the tool like scavenger hunts and Mayorship programs in our residence hall communities.
By offering a fully supported Campus Ambassador program and tools to help schools succeed, the 4sqonCampus division has grown and now enables institutions to do much more for themselves. Still to set up a specific event under a venue in Foursquare, an online request must be submitted and you are at the mercy of the Foursquare folks to set it up for you, a fact I hope will change in the future.
The best advice I can give institutions looking to get involved is that if you are in a smaller community like we are, don’t expect Foursquare to be an instant hit. Schools in major metropolitan areas with a lot of retail and dining venues surrounding their campuses might expect thousands of followers and tons of check-ins and custom badges but, in our smaller community, most of our students are just now embracing mobile technology. By keeping realistic expectations and by using Foursquare for event promotion and starting with incoming cohorts of students, we’ve insured that, a couple of years from now, our whole campus will be following WKU on Foursquare and telling their friends about it!
Why would I recommend Foursquare over other similar services? Well, for starters, it’s free. They also offer incredible, personal support from real people who offer so much more than lip service – they really understand the higher ed industry and work with schools of all sizes to help their programs succeed.
In the third installment of our free webinar, two more industry-leading retailers will share their tactical strategies for more effectively communicating with faculty to develop relationships, receive more on-time adoptions, and ultimately save students money! Register today!
You’ll Hear Creative Ways to:
•Achieve solidarity: Building better relationships with faculty
•Inform the troops: Providing faculty time-saving tools to help your efforts
•Decode the communication barrier: Working as a team to save students more money
•Gain more allies: Extending a sincere ‘thank you’ through unique programs and events
You’ll Hear From:
•Cindy Swanson, Textbook Manager at Andrews University Bookstore
•Kim Ball, Senior Manager of Textbooks at Titan Shops
Ready to Join the Rally?
Register Now for
Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 12:00pm CDT
The following is an excerpt from the article Colleges Focus on Cloud Security, written by Karen D. Schwartz for Ed Tech Magazine, and offers important insight into the significance of cloud computing in today’s technologically-driven world. Although this article refers to campus infrastructure as whole, MBS offers cloud computing solutions specialized for the college store. Just like the providers described below, our main priority is your security, so we take serious measures to ensure the integrity of your data is never compromised. In fact, we’ve partnered with Paymetric for tokenization security in the cloud, too.
If you’re considering cloud computing, learn how other college stores have made the transition here, and contact your MBS Representative for more information.
Many colleges are taking their time signing on with public-cloud services. As a general rule, universities tend to adapt slowly to changing technologies, and the security of any cloud service is a big concern.
That’s why Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago started with security. One of the university’s first steps into the cloud was to migrate away from on-premises virus and spam filtering to cloud-based e-mail security. The university recently discontinued its use of Symantec’s on-premises Brightmail system in favor of Symantec.cloud, a public cloud e-mail security service.
“We are always hesitant when it comes to the cloud, but we felt comfortable moving our e-mail security to the cloud with Symantec because security is what they do,” says Kim Tracy, executive director of University Technology Services at Northeastern Illinois.
Symantec’s expertise in security has already come in handy. The university has experienced a series of targeted phishing attacks, and the software provider, through its cloud service, has been helpful in reducing the attacks.
“I’m thankful we have Symantec to work on it,” Tracy says. “They have a much better chance of fixing this problem than we could internally. We would just end up filtering out too much, including a lot of legitimate e-mail.”
The move to Symantec’s cloud service offers solid security and also gives Tracy’s department the flexibility to easily add or delete users as their needs change. That’s important, because the next step will be moving students to Gmail while keeping faculty and staff on the Symantec e-mail security system.
For any organization with software, infrastructure or platforms in the public cloud, it’s critical to identify threats and vulnerabilities in real time so they can be acted on and resolved quickly, says Renell Dixon, a managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global consultancy firm.
“When you’re talking about the cloud, the window of opportunity between the time a threat is located and the time you are fully protected is very small,” she says. “It’s important to put something in place that manages that process in real time by continuously monitoring and fixing problems as they occur.”
Why So Cautious?
James Leoni, deputy CIO for University of Maryland’s campus in Baltimore, is as cautious as Tracy when it comes to moving to the cloud. His campus is home to seven professional and graduate schools, including medicine and law. That means there’s a lot of personal legal and healthcare information that must be protected.
Recognizing they need to secure both internal applications and external public-cloud services, campus IT staff set up a system in which all incoming and outgoing e-mail or documents pass through a Cisco Systems IronPort security appliance. The IronPort gear encrypts sensitive information using rules that match the unique policies of the professional schools.
“The reality is that some of these cloud services are more secure than some of the servers people are running locally,” he says. “We have one or two people running our student e-mail system, for example, but at Google, they have an entire security team. Hundreds of system administrators can offer more resources than one or two.”
If you are still using an in-store server, what are your concerns with converting to cloud computing? If you use a hosted model, what are the major benefits? Share your experiences in the comments section!
New stats about mobile’s gains and innovations make the press almost daily now. Here are a few you might have missed:
- “There are 5.3 billion mobile devices in use on the planet today” (Mobile Marketing Association)
- “86% of smartphone owners used their phone in the past month to make real-time queries to help them meet friends, solve problems, or settle arguments” (Pew Resear)
- “Consumers spent $26.1 billion globally on apps last year” (Strategy Analysis)
- “Mobile ad revenue increased 149% 2011 versus 2010, up to $1.6 billion” (Interactive Advertising Bureau)
- “Within three years, $930 billion in payments will be processed via mobile” (KPMG)
Essentially, this means you’d better get your business mobile-ready … and fast! Embracing mobile doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem. Consider these six relatively low barriers to entry.
1. Check your website’s mobile-friendliness
Before you wholeheartedly embrace mobile, it’s a good idea to see how your website fares when viewed on different mobile devices. Run your site through a few of the mobile compatibility testing tools on this list for a good gauge.
Bonus: MBS Systems inSite can be optimized for mobile viewing. Talk to your MBS Systems inSite Representative to take advantage of this feature.
2. Run a short code/SMS text messaging campaign
American Idol first popularized this “text [ABCDE] to ” form of marketing. Today, SMS campaigns can encourage users to request information, download coupons, set up reminders, participate in sweepstakes–or, sure, cast a vote–among other ideas.
These “short-code” campaigns are relatively easy to set up, especially if you follow these tips from Mobile Marketer.
3. Claim your place
Particularly if you are in a consumer-facing business, mobile users may be seeking businesses like yours through location-based services such as Yelp, foursquare, Google Places and others. Make sure you can get found: Be sure to register and create a company account.
Bonus: Check out how to create a foursquare business page.
4. Use scannable QR codes
It’s hard to avoid seeing QR codes these days; their adoption rate in the US has increased 314% year-over-year from Q1 2011 versus Q1 2012. They can appear on products, posters, shelf displays, and even wine bottles.
Using camera-enabled smartphones, consumers can scan your QR code and be taken to a URL to receive whatever message or information you’ve set up to be associated with this code.
5. Segment out mobile in Google AdWords
If you’re running a Google AdWords campaign, you can now separate and manage the mobile side of how your ads get seen–and you should be doing so. This allows you to better optimize, track and measure mobile-driven traffic.
Bonus: Google explains how in this Help Center video.
6. Buy mobile ads
Target your campaign to your desired audience (demographic, geographic, whatever) using mobile advertising.
Bonus: Since most mobile ad campaigns are served based on the user’s location, here’s a comprehensive list of location-based mobile advertising options.
How does your store market via mobile? Share your ideas and experiences in the comment section!
Nyla Woolard, manager of Black Hawk College Bookstore, is always trying to keep up with the latest trends. So, when she saw that the April Marketing Plan on Foreword Online included Facebook Cover Photos based on what’s popular with today’s students, she knew she had to implement one for buyback.
“They were all so cute that my staff actually fought over which one we were going to use first!” she explained. “But, as soon as I saw the ‘Stache of Cash mustache theme I knew that was it. I’m a huge Pinterest fan and you can’t go on the site without seeing mustache merchandise everywhere; it’s very popular right now, and I knew students would love it!”
Once the theme was set, Woolard decided to run with it. She branded this semester’s buyback as the Mustache Bash and turned to Pinterest to find ways to create an entertaining atmosphere.
“I knew we could have some fun with this theme,” she said. “We had to operate on a pretty small budget though, so I wanted to find ways that we could do everything ourselves.”
To spread the word, Woolard customized the free poster template that came along with the Cover Photo on Foreword Online with her store’s specific buyback dates. She also added the image to a postcard which was handed out at the register.
“Students always stop by and ask when they can sell their books, so it’s great to be able to hand them a reminder that they can hold on to,” she explained. “The mustache theme got them talking right away, and they were curious to see what was coming.”
Woolard and her staff created ‘Mustaches on a Stick’ as an incentive for the first 150 students who sold their books at the store. By constructing the ‘staches from cardstock and adhering them to sticks purchased at a local craft store, they kept the cost to a minimum.
“We put a tag around each one that said ‘I got my Stache of Cash at the BHC Bookstore Buyback’,” she explained. “Our hopes were that students would show them off to friends and that they’d be a conversation starter. It definitely worked; everyone loved them!”
The theme didn’t stop there, though. Woolard also came up with unique games to amuse students as they sold their books.
“Every three minutes, we had a timer go off and that meant it was time to play ‘Pin the Stache on 1970’s Burt Reynolds’,” she described. “We blindfolded each participant and whoever got the mustache the closest to Burt’s mouth would win a free drink from the store. It was a big hit!”
The store’s staff got involved in the effort, too, by cheering on participants.
“They were really working the crowd!” added Woolard. “It was a great way for us to interact with our customers on a more personal level and have some fun with them.”
Woolard even planned activities to help those waiting in line pass the time.
“We printed pictures of 20 different mustaches on 8×10 sheets of paper and hung them in the hallway outside our store,” she said. “Students who were in line to sell their books could play ‘Name the Celebrity ‘Stache by filling out a form with their guesses, then submitting them for a chance to win prizes.”
Staff then put those who submitted the correct answers into a drawing for gas gift cards.
“We purchased the gift cards using our MBS Marketing Allowance, so it didn’t cost us anything!” she said.
Throughout the buy, several customers commented on the unique theme, providing positive feedback.
“The younger generation totally gets it and even some of our older faculty and non-traditional students find it hilarious,” she explained.
Overall, Woolard considers the new theme a success as the store spent less than $20 on their ‘stache of fun activities and were able to generate excitement from their customers.
“Buyback is not always a happy day for students, so anything that we can do to make it more enjoyable is worth it,” she said. “We’re definitely going to keep it going and try another fun theme like this next semester!”
When Tiffany Fernandez needs to miss a day of work, she doesn’t call her boss. The 17-year-old, an assistant to a Miami clothing designer, doesn’t email her either. She sends her a text.
Fernandez is typical of her fellow members of Generation Z, who were born in the early to mid-1990s and are entering the workforce in droves for the first time, according to The Miami Herald.
Gen Z is the first generation to have always known the digital world. And so this group brings a new web savvy — and devotion — into the workplace.
“They will have to get used to email and, God forbid, picking up the phone and calling,” Cam Marston, of Generational Insights, told the Herald.
These youths are also known as Generation M (for multitasking), Generation C (for connected), or even the iGeneration. Some argue that Gen Z’s nearly lifelong exposure to the Internet has been a double-edged sword. While they’re adept at multitasking, they may find it harder to have old-fashioned, face-to-face conversations, says senior analyst Naren Sivasailam of the Australian market research firm IBISWorld, which has conducted surveys among Australian members of Gen Z.
“They are more cynical because they are so aware of being marketed to, but they are also empathetic because they are so much more aware of what is going on,” Sivasailam told the Australian paper, The Herald Sun. Gen-Z also may have more difficulty handling interactions with clients and customers because they’ve spent so much time in front of a screen. But being left to their own devices has had an upside, observers note, pointing out that Gen-Z members are remarkably comfortable multitasking.
Gen Z Goes To Work
It’s probably too early to tell how growing up in the wake of 9/11 and the Great Recession will shape this generation, but it’s clear that large events can leave their mark. The Great Depression, which spanned from 1929 to the end of the 1930s, is widely accepted to to have left in its wake the fatalistic “Silent Generation,” which, as the International Business Times points out, is the lone American generation not to produce a president.
So far, this generation is facing more hurdles to even landing a job. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 16 to 24 who were employed as of last July was measured at 48.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure is the lowest such tally for the age bracket since the BLS began tracking the statistic in 1948.
While it’s common for young people to be seen by their elders as lazy and apathetic, experts suggest that Gen Z understands that they’re facing a tough economy and have become more entrepreneurial as a result. “Gen Z is taking the bull by the horns, and is really making this happen,” said Assistant Professor Ted Zoller of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, in remarks to the “Institute for Emerging Issues Forum” at North Carolina State this month.
Education cuts during the crisis are also sure to have an impact. “Students simply do not possess much information or knowledge about the workplace,” Robin McCarthy, executive director of Women At Work, told The Herald-Sun newspaper of Durham, N.C. In hosting teen job fairs, she has noticed that many potential job seekers do not have any idea how to write a resume.
For their part, though, Gen Z may end up surprising all the pundits. A new survey, for instance, punctures holes in the stereotype of Gen Z as being always connected. The survey, conducted by Computacenter found that more than half of the 16- to 24-year-olds surveyed didn’t want a tablet in the workplace.
The following article, written by Brian McVicar for M Live, stresses the impact used textbooks can have on your students’ savings. The used textbook still offers the best value, in many cases, and can be a great asset to college stores who are trying to stay competitive. MBS has the largest inventory of used textbooks in the industry, so remember to order with us first to get the best selection!
Grand Valley State University says it’s helping drive down the cost of an item that’s often difficult for cash-strapped students to afford: textbooks.
The University Bookstore estimates that it saved GVSU students a total of $1.4 million on textbooks during the 2010-2011 academic year. Savings for the most recent academic year, which started last fall, were not yet available.
“A lot of the times, college bookstores get a bad rap, but it’s important to let students know what we’re doing to keep our prices low,” said Tony Glaab, associate manager at the University Bookstore.
Glaab said the savings – slightly more than the previous year – were achieved by relying more heavily on used textbooks instead of new ones. The strategy makes sense in many entry level courses where little coursework changes when a new edition of a textbook is released.
“Publishers come out with new editions every couple years,” he said. “In most cases, the additions are pretty negligible.”
Prices for books differ based on subject matter, but in some instances, new editions can go for $100 more than used textbooks, Glaab said.
“It’s pretty dramatic,” he said of the price change.
Books Still Pricey
Despite the efforts by GVSU, consumer advocacy groups say the price of textbooks remain stubbornly high.
Changes aimed at reducing prices have been made in recent years, but there’s little evidence that the price of textbooks are falling, said Nicole Allen, who oversees textbook advocacy for the Student Public Interest Research Groups.
“On one hand, we’re seeing the price of textbooks rising as fast as ever,” Allen said, adding that prices are going up four times faster than the rate of inflation. “That means the price of everything else is rising, including used books.”
Students attending a public, 4-year university spend an average of $1,168 on books and supplies a year, according to the College Board’s 2011 Trends in College Pricing. Allen said
Glaab said GVSU hasn’t calculated a figure detailing what the average student spends on books. The amount, he said, would differ widely based upon what type of courses a student takes.
Those pursuing a career in health might spend more than a writing or history major because their textbooks would likely be updated more frequently, he said.
But overall, Glaab said GVSU is often cheaper than other providers because about half the textbooks it carries are used. That’s higher than the industry as a whole, which typically carries a stock of 30 percent used books, he said.
eBooks Not Producing Savings
Meanwhile, textbook rentals and eBooks haven’t produced the savings that many once thought they would, he said. GVSU doesn’t offer textbook rentals.
In some instances, eBooks cost nearly as much as traditional books. And because they can’t be sold back to the bookstore, few students have purchased them.
A recent study at Daytona State College found that some students who purchased eBooks saved only $1 more than students who purchased regular textbooks.
“The more interactive they get, and if they can bring the price down, the more interest we’ll get from students,” Glaab said, adding that eBook sales amounted to less than one percent of overall textbook sales at GVSU.
Brian Page, owner of Brian’s Book, which has stores in Allendale and Grand Rapids, said he’s long championed growing the number of used books available to students.
He says as much of 60 percent of his inventory is used books, and that textbook rentals – where students pay a smaller price for a book but must return it at the end of the semester – is growing in popularity.
“We’re trying to answer the desires of the customers – the lowest price point, plain and simple,” Page said.
He added that textbook rentals are typically cheaper upfront for students, but buying used books might save more in the long run.
That’s because bookstores may by a book back for more than the student spent to rent it. Where rentals save students money is when the bookstore doesn’t end up buying a particular book back because the college is no longer using it, Page said. GVSU offers a buyback guarantee on some books.
Are Federal Rules Working?
Rules passed in 2008 as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act have created a more favorable environment for students to purchase text books, but it remains to be seen how much it has saved students, Allen said.
The changes: requiring textbook publishers to include the price of books when marketing them to college faculty; requiring that items included in a “textbook bundle,” such as a study guide or CD, also be sold separately; and mandating that colleges tell students what textbooks are required when they sign up for courses.
“That’s definitely allowed students to shop around much more than they have in the past,” she said.
But, she added one sobering statistic: One in seven students has foregone purchasing a textbook at least once because of price, according to a survey by U.S. Pirg.
“That’s alarming,” Allen said. “They’re saving money, but not in a way that’s good for their education.”