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Wheaton College Bookstore Builds Loyalty with Surprise Gifts

Posted by Stephanie Kubas on 8/20/13 11:00 PM
Topics: college store customer service, textbook reservation, college store stories, sustainability, customer loyalty

In today’s evolving marketplace, customer loyalty is more important than ever. One of the most basic yet effective ways to gain this essential sentiment is to say “thank you” to those who help support your business. Excelling in this area of service, Wheaton College Bookstore extends their sincere appreciation to students during fall rush season through their Easy Books Promotion.

Easy Books allows Wheaton students to purchase their textbooks online, and then pick up the pre-packaged order, complete with a branded tote bag, at the start of the semester. The first 1000 students who take advantage of this offering find a sealed envelope in their tote, informing them that they’re a winner.

The catch is that they don’t know what they’ve won. Each student has to bring the unopened envelope to the C-Store, located across the street from the bookstore, and have a cashier open it to see just how lucky they are. The outside of the envelope, however, lists all of the potential prizes which include a moleskin journal valued at $18.95, a game hat valued at $18.00, a water bottle valued at $24.00, a 20% discount coupon or a $25 store gift card.

“We got the idea from a restaurant who offered a similar promotion years ago,” explained Ruth Thompson, assistant manager. “We just adapted it to fit our own needs.”

“About 96% of the envelopes contain discount coupons and 3 envelopes have the gift card inside,” she added. “The rest are redeemable for our free items.”

The promotion is strictly based on word-of-mouth as the store does not advertise the envelopes in advance.

“Promoting the envelopes would make it a contest and we don’t follow official contest rules,” Thompson explained. “It’s more of a gift to show our appreciation for their purchase. The upperclassmen have come to expect it, after using Easy Books for several years, but it’s always a nice surprise for the freshmen.”

Feedback from students has been very positive from the start and, despite the fact that the promotion has been in place for an extended period of time, the store has found it is still just as effective.

“It works great to get the freshman introduced to our C-store and what they carry early on in the year, since they can’t open the envelope until they are there,” she described. “We assumed everyone would really want the free items but, to our surprise, we’ve heard several students say they hope they get the discount so they can use It on school supplies! Regardless of what they receive, everyone usually walks away happy!”

About Stephanie Kubas

Stephanie was our former MBS Marketing Communications Manager. She helped Foreword Online evolve from simple reposts from other industry-related sites, to original content sourced directly from our college stores. Although she no longer writes for Foreword Online, it still holds a special place in her heart.

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