Posts tagged Wichita State University Bookstore
The ninth-seeded Shockers kept the country on the edge of their seats this season as they advanced to the Final Four with four wins, one over top-seeded Gonzaga and one over second-seeded Ohio State. And in their first Final Four since 1965, they had the Cardinals fighting hard for a win.
Although their unbelievable run unfortunately came to an end before the championship, the team remains victorious in the eyes of their fans – several of whom have been cheering them on from the Wichita State University Bookstore.
“It has been a tremendous experience for all of us as a staff, and we couldn’t be more proud of the team,” explained Andrea Stipp, assistant director. “We were busier than we’ve ever been, and a week later, I think we’re all still recovering.”
To keep fans supplied with merchandise for each stage of the tournament, the store has been working around the clock for weeks. And, their customers have certainly taken notice. Sales have spiked both online and in-store with orders for merchandise still pouring in, despite the fact that the team is no longer competing.
The initiative kicked into high gear when the Shockers reached the Sweet Sixteen, according to Stipp.
“We utilized local vendors for the majority of our t-shirts so we could take advantage of a quick turnaround time,” she said. “Many early mornings were spent making the three hour drive to Kansas City or Lawrence to pick up t-shirt orders. It worked out great though because we could have our merchandise available in-store within two hours of opening on the day after a win.”
Social media played an essential role in promoting each new t-shirt design as the team advanced through the tournament. By updating the estimated time of arrival for new merchandise on the bookstore Facebook and Twitter accounts, they created hype and had a line of fans waiting to make a purchase each time the new shirts arrived.
“We also teamed up with the Rhatigan Student Center Marketing Department who helped us cross-promote our new products and generate a buzz,” she added.
Their real secret weapon, however, was the ability to sell merchandise online. With the help of MBS Systems inSite, their web store was easily updated and able to handle a large amount of traffic.
“A lot of the sports memorabilia stores in Wichita don’t have an online presence, so it really gave us an advantage,” Stipp explained. “We saw a 1000% increase in online orders compared to our average monthly web sales and we’re still receiving quite a bit, even now.”
inSite’s easy management allowed the store to add merchandise to their website ahead of time and simply ‘unhide’ it once their team had progressed through another round. In fact, during the Final Four, there was a point in time when shirts were selling out just as fast as the merchandise was revealed.
“We shipped packages to Asia, the Middle East, South Africa; literally all over the world. It was phenomenal,” she described. “inSite was critical in helping us gain sales. If we didn’t have an online presence, we really would have been behind the eight ball.”
Beyond sales, the store was also able to extend superior customer service to their students throughout the process, establishing loyalty that will last long after the tournament. For instance, several fans who had headed down to Atlanta for the Final Four game called the store with last minute requests for flags that had been forgotten at home or sweatshirts that they just had to have.
“inSite was instrumental in allowing us to fulfill last minute orders to our fans who were across the country,” she said. “We were able to overnight merchandise to them in time for the game and they were just ecstatic.”
Online orders also cut down on in-store traffic, offering an improved shopping experience.
“No one likes waiting in a line, so we utilized inSite to offer store pickup to our students,” she explained. “They simply ordered and paid for their merchandise online and picked it up in store. Everyone enjoyed the convenience and the fact that they avoided the hassle of dealing with a crowd.”
The store also delivered shirts to their satellite campus locations, to ensure all students had a chance to show their Shocker pride.
“We know the majority of those students are working adults, and that they may not have time to drive to our store for an order, so we wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out,” Stipp added. “We saw a huge increase in sales at these locations and they were very appreciative.”
In fact, the store even welcomed their rivals with open arms through a t-shirt trade in promotion. Because many Wichita residents sport Kansas University and Kansas State University apparel on a daily basis, the campus’ Student Center partnered with the store to increase Shocker pride on campus. So, anyone who brought in KU or K-State apparel was offered $3 off their WSU Final Four shirt.
“It became a one of a kind experience for many,” Stipp said. “We had several students tell us how excited they were to shop for their first ever Shocker shirt; it was great!”
Throughout the tournament, the store spread the word about their in-store offerings and their website to thousands and thousands of people. Although the excitement brought with it long hours and extra labor, Wichita State University Bookstore thrived under pressure and scored big points with fans from around the world.
“I think it will impact our business for a long time to come,” Stipp said. “It’s sad to see it come to an end, but it was an incredible ride!”
And there’s always next season…
Social Media Celebration Series:
Wichita State University Bookstore Partners with their Students for Success
Today is Social Media Day, a worldwide celebration of the revolution of instant, real-time media. In honor of social media and its influence on the collegiate retail industry, enjoy the last installment of our three-part series of articles focusing on stores that are connecting with their students by using this forum to its fullest!
With an online following of over 1,000 users, the Wichita State University Bookstore is always looking for ways to keep their social media sites fresh and students engaged. Unlike many other stores, however, they didn’t have a dedicated marketing department. So, to generate new ideas, they assembled their own team.
Including everyone from store employees to students, the team meets weekly to bounce around ideas that fuel their innovative and continually updated marketing campaigns.
“We found that when you put together a group of people with completely different backgrounds you can output some great ideas as a team!” explained Noura Souccane, accounts payable and member of the bookstore marketing group.
It was in these meetings, in fact, that the store came up with a new approach to advertising their buyback through a different medium.
“We wanted to find a way to promote our buyback that was relevant to students,” said Souccane. “Our Buyback Video turned out to be both an attention-grabbing and cost-effective way to get our message out, while also driving traffic to our Facebook Page.”
Rather than relying on outside resources to produce and create the video, however, the store used what they had right in their own store; their students!
“Our student employees participated by acting in the video, and we had a former employee who was finishing her communication degree, film it,” she explained. “She then used the facilities on campus to edit and create the finished product. So, overall, it was very low-cost for us, and she was able to get valuable experience to put on her resume!”
Debuting in 2010, their original video starred Blondie, a WSU student, who stumbles upon Jack Buyback, an amusingly well-spoken pile of talking books in the aisles of the bookstore. Jack guides her through the buyback process and lists off all the reasons that Blondie should sell her books at the Official Buyback of Wichita State University until she’s convinced it’s ‘like, totally the best option.’
“We wanted the video to be very tongue-and-cheek and a little bit cheesy,” Souccane added. “I think it ended up being exactly that; students loved it and thought it was hilarious!”
As a sequel to their original masterpiece, their 2011 Buyback Video again featured the two popular characters who relaxed in the sun after finals with all the cash they received after selling books back to the store.
“We immediately received tons of compliments on the video from students and even staff,” Souccane said. “We were one of the first departments to really experiment with social media marketing and others were impressed with the results. One of the professors on campus even used us as an example in his presentation on the topic!”
Looking again for a way to get students involved, the store also recently implemented a Top Model contest.
“We needed photos of our new merchandise for our website, and we knew we wanted to have students model them. But, because we try to integrate social media into each of our marketing campaigns, we decided to position it as a contest on Facebook, “she explained.
Interested students, alumni, and staff were asked to submit an application and their picture to the store for the chance to be the new face of face of their Spring/Summer Fashion Campaign.
Out of 17 applicants, WSU Bookstore then narrowed it down to three male and three female finalists, based on who they thought would be the best representatives for the store.
Using a third-party polling application, they posted the finalists’ pictures to their Facebook Page and let students vote. The Top Girl and Top Guy whose picture received the most “likes” were then crowned the Bookstore’s Top Model.
The two winners received an exclusive Top Model Swag Bag full of Shocker merchandise, a photo shoot modeling the latest Spring/Summer Shocker Gear for the University Bookstore, and of course the celebrity status that comes with becoming the Bookstore’s Top Model!
“The contest was a lot of fun, and students enjoyed participating, which was ultimately our goal,” she said. “We try to get students directly involved in our marketing campaigns as much as possible. They know what’s cool and what’s not, which helps us send better messages; plus, they get great experience too.”
In fact, the store attributes much of the success of their interactive social media campaigns to the involvement of their students, who participate in everything from the brainstorming phase all the way through implementation. Based on her experience, Souccane suggests other stores take advantage of the knowledge their students have to offer, as well.
“Use what you have! We’re at a real advantage in the collegiate retail industry because our target audience is easily accessible. Having students involved in your marketing efforts is truly invaluable. Not only are they in-tune with the group you’re trying to reach, but they can also show you how to use up-and-coming technology, such as social media, because many are learning about it in school!”
As for the future, Wichita State University Bookstore has no plans of slowing down their social media efforts anytime soon.
“It’s become a huge part of everything we do,” she said. “You have to get involved to stay ahead of the curve because that’s where all of our customers are now!”
Happy Social Media Day! See how we’re celebrating by checking out our exciting new look on Facebook! For information on how to integrate successful social media promotions into your store’s marketing plan, talk with your MBS representative.