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Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers



Three Ideas Worth Stealing For Your Bookstore

Posted by Dean Asher on 1/27/15 10:00 PM
Topics: college retail, Marketing to Students

NRF.com has found 20 great retail ideas worth stealing, and you should totally check them out. Just because most of the businesses listed are big national chains doesn't mean your store can't reap the benefit. Below you'll find three ideas we think will really work well for college bookstores, with our take added in orange. Let us know if you use any!

1. Solve Customers’ Biggest Annoyances

There’s nothing that quite brings reality crashing back in after vacation than the thought of an empty refrigerator waiting at home. Perhaps that thought starts on the return flight as you’re forced to near-starvation by the meager airline offerings.

That’s why Australian grocer Woolworths’ latest click-and-collect site — at Melbourne Airport — is so brilliant. Customers can order their groceries online or via the Woolworths’ app, select a pickup time within the next seven days and go on with their holiday. At the end of the trip, the groceries are waiting just outside the terminal building. If plans change, it’s easy enough to switch to having the groceries delivered.

For those who prefer the old-fashioned way of grocery shopping, the app offers a “find me” function, which tells shoppers where products are located in the store. It also details product specials and will sync shopping lists on the app and online accounts. For those who buy gasoline from Woolworths, the app keeps track of fuel vouchers and will detail which nearby Woolworths location offers the lowest price.

Grocery shopping is a required chore for most any household: Woolworths is aiming to take some of the pain out of it.

There's a ton of ways stores can bring convenience to students. From dorm delivery to reservations, see how stores have made it easy for their students to shop!

2. Ramp Up Social Enterprise

The fashion retailer (Villa) has teamed with Nike’s Jordan Brand to offer incentives to students.

Participating students from three selected Philadelphia high schools received a $25 Jordan Brand coupon for each A received in math, language arts and science. The school with the most As received $25,000.

The company said it plans to bring the program to other communities around the country.

This is far from just one feel-good program that dramatically impacts the lives of a few. Villa’s Join the Movement initiative intends to revitalize urban communities through educational support, environmental improvement and economic empowerment for teens. So far the company has sponsored turkey giveaways at Thanksgiving, partnered with customers to provide shoes for disadvantaged children, held food drives and days of service and provided employment opportunities and training programs.

As social enterprise enters its next phase, Villa may serve as a case study for how retailers can do more than offer a few promotions at certain times of the year.

As student-driven retailers, bookstores are in an interesting and unique position to try this. Check out how both Middlebury College and Towson University's bookstores have partnered with student groups here.

3. Bring the Store to Mobile Devices


It’s the digital age-old question: How can retailers recreate the in-store experience online? Pottery Barn believes the answer lies within a series of interactive videos. A recent installment included in-house interior designers providing holiday decorating tips and answering viewers’ questions about the products involved. Celebrity mixologists also were on hand to offer recipes for seasonal cocktails. A video in May focused on summer drinks; one in October gave tips for hosting a “spooktacular” party. Naturally, each video comes with an in-stream “click to buy” button. To encourage participation, commenters are given the opportunity to win Pottery Barn gift cards.

The videos were created in partnership with Brandlive, a product communication platform that aims to help brands and retailers “dramatically increase customer conversion, activate influencers and lower internal product training costs.” Other companies that have worked with Brandlive include GoPro, MasterCraft, FoodSaver and Gerber. And why not? One look at social media will show that video can cross the boundaries of various interests and audiences.

Tool retailer Rockwell reported that its first real-world application event with Brandlive delivered 1,110 unique viewers, 1,000 questions and comments and 120 unique orders online and by phone.

And students can get the pricing and buyback information your store offers on their mobile devices, as well. On The Go, MBS' mobile app for bookstores, places buyback values, textbook/merchandise prices, price comparison information and more in your students' hands on their iOS and Android devices!

About Dean Asher

Dean Asher is a former copywriter with MBS. Though he no longer writes for us, he is still proud of having helped this blog continue to evolve as an industry-leading resource of news and original content.

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