Reaching out to new and returning students on a regular basis is vital to the success of any college store. After all, if your students aren’t fully aware of all you have to offer or the important role you play as part of the campus community, they may choose to shop elsewhere. Schmoozefest, a yearly event sponsored by the University Union at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, welcomes students back to campus with free food and gift bags — and The Phoenix Bookstore makes sure they are involved in the festivities.
During the event, the bookstore staff set up a table where they handed out coupons and spoke to around 200 students. Marketing and Events Coordinator Sue Machuca said that many of the questions they answered revolved around two of their most popular features: their free loyalty and textbook reservation programs.
Loyalty pays out at the Phoenix Bookstore
Phlash Rewards, the store’s loyalty program, is now in its fourth year and is more successful than ever. With 73,000 members enrolled, Machuca estimates that the store gives out about $7,000 in gift cards every year. “They’re earning points on things they have to buy anyway,” she said. “It just gives them one more reason to shop with us, and shows that we’re giving back. We recently had a girl come in to check her points and she had a $50 gift card waiting. It adds up!”
EZ Books simplifies textbook reservation, and while it’s marketed mainly toward freshmen, two-thirds of those who use the program are returning customers. Machuca said that they have an average of 1,500 orders placed each semester.
“The nice thing about our store, because we have the MBS System, is that it’s easy for students to get all the options that they want — new, used, digital and rental — and the whole process is simple too," Machuca said. "We have the gamut available for them, whether they reserve in advance or come in when school starts.
“Many of our incoming kids are first-generation college students, so it’s really important that we’re there during orientation and campus visits as a visible, helpful presence,” she added. “We can make the transition easier and let them know that our store not only has everything they need for a successful semester, but that it’s just a pleasant place to come in and shop.”
To further reward those who participate in EZ Books, the bookstore also gives them the VIP treatment by reserving the first day of buyback just for these students. In addition to receiving the maximum amount possible for their books, they get free ice cream and a coupon for 20 percent off their total purchase of clothing and gifts.
The Phoenix Bookstore also runs weekly specials and frequent promotions, and participates in every campus event they can, from providing T-shirts to the school’s intramural programs to organizing donations for the campus food bank.
“You have to be out there, actually out on the campus, if you want to have an edge over your competition,” Machuca said. “Students recognize me and so they’ll come into the store just to say ‘hi.’ Our store is a true part of the community — that takes a little effort.”