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2022 Best Practices for College Stores

Posted by Liz Schulte on 12/19/22 6:15 AM
Topics: college bookstore industry trends, marketing for college bookstores, benefits of online retail

2023 is almost here. After this week, Foreword Online will be taking a short break. We will return on January 9, 2023, with more helpful stories. Let’s take a moment to look back at 2022 and all that we have learned.

2022 Best Practices for College Stores

Evaluate your partnerships

If you are in vendor partnerships that are no longer serving you, don’t settle for less. Take a look at the options available to your store.

“I have been here since 2003 and I have a spreadsheet that goes back. I have all my vendors listed, number of wantlists, the number of units, the average number of units per list, and I always keep track of that. A lot of that helps me understand the nature of my partnership with my used book vendors,” OSU Beaver Store’s Chief Academic Materials Officer James Howard said. “Just looking at the volume that I was getting from MBS and the average number of units that I was getting from my wantlist. I'm from Texas, so you always go to the fishing hole where the fish are biting and so MBS was where the fish were biting with the books.”

“We have the two-week text express shipping period which is also a huge benefit. We are very happy we signed this contract. There are a lot of little things, but they are all important things that add up to an invaluable total as far as we are concerned,” Dawn Greenlaw, Associate Director for Bookstore, Skidmore Shop, said. “It’s not just the financial aspects either. It’s also the confidence we have in the arrangement and service — things you can’t put a dollar sign on.”

Read about the MBS Premier Partnership benefits that the Skidmore Shop values most.

Give students course material options that fit their budget and learning styles

There are more options than ever before for students to find course materials that both fit their budget and their preferred learning style. Make your store the most reliable place where students can find the type of books they want and at the price they need.

“We have everything from inclusive access to regular books, eBooks and OER. We believe really strongly at Weber State in supporting academic freedom and supplying enough format choices to serve all of our students. We have a very diverse population — people from all over. Everybody, from all walks of life, can go to Weber State, and we do everything we can to support them,” Weber State university Wildcat Store Academic Supply Manager Sarah Tooker said. “We need to have a variety of materials for all kinds of learning styles and financial means. I have people come in who tell me ‘I cannot learn electronically. Can you help me?’ That’s where MBS comes in. I know I can get what I need for an affordable price for my students. If we don’t already have the book, I can always rely on MBS to have it. It is tremendous to be able to have service like that.”

Maximize course material fulfillment with reworks

Make sure students have the low-cost options they are looking for by maximizing your wantlist fulfillment. Reworks are an effective tool for getting more used and rental titles.

“As soon as it’s available, I send in a rental quote. I sent ours for fall as soon as MBS started accepting fall lists. I always submit right away, even if I only have one adoption. I will rework my rental list throughout the term as I get new adoptions or just to see if anything else on the list might get picked up as a rental. It takes less than a minute to submit the rental list, so it doesn’t hurt to just keep reworking it because you might get that title picked up as a rental that wasn’t originally — which I've actually had happen with summer classes,” University of St. Thomas Campus Stores Course Material Manager Tami Steinke said. “I had a couple late adoptions and there were a few books on there that we had sent previously that we didn't get a quote on. Then I submitted again, and we did!

“I probably rework my rental list at least once a week — if not more. It really depends on how many new adoptions I have gotten. I don't stop when the semester starts. This is a continual thing. We have classes that start later, and people are still buying books. I also make sure to do a rework toward the end of this semester because sometimes there are increases in the rental prices and we want to maximize the amount that we get back,” Steinke said. “It’s so easy. It takes seconds to rework and transmit. Then I just wait for the email from MBS that the quote is ready. Once I submit the list, my part is done, and I can move on to other things. It is definitely worth it. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it.”

Read more about how the University of St. Thomas Campus Stores ensure they have the books to support students.

Encourage buyback participation

Buyback puts money back in students’ hands. Through the pandemic, buyback had to change and a lot of students on campus now haven’t experienced a traditional buyback. Use this opportunity to re-introduce students to an on-campus buyback.

“This was the first time we ran buyback through Arc, and it was easy. The dollar amounts we were giving back were so much higher and word of mouth really spread fast,” Lafayette College Store Course Materials Coordinator Darrell Parry said. “I kept hearing kids coming in and saying ‘oh, so-and-so said’, ‘my roommate told me’, ‘my friend told me’, etc. They were bringing in arms full of books — something we haven’t seen in years. Usually, it is like one or two books, but kids were literally going through their closets finding more and more books to bring in.”

Find out how Lafayette College Store created incredible word-of-mouth for buyback.

Streamline processes

With a limited staff, your time is valuable. Look at your store processes and see if automation can be added to help streamline your staff’s day-to-day tasks. MBS representatives are happy to work with partner stores to help identify opportunities to add efficiency.

“TA2 opens doors and gives us a lot of the options we were looking for with managing multiple stores. Minnesota State schools also operate on the real-time integration. By creating a connection between the MBS system and our school system, our store has more options. We can automatically charge books to students’ accounts using SFA,” Hibbing Community College Bookstore Coordinator Becky Mayo said. “The support team has been really terrific throughout this transformation. We have had a weekly meeting to help get us through the whole transition with everyone on it. Pretty much if you touch the bookstore in anyway, you are on the meeting.”

Read about Hibbing Community College Bookstore’s new multi-store environment and how the MBS system team supported them.

Ensure you have the support to be successful

Having reliable support at your fingertips can be a huge benefit especially if you aren’t running the store at full staff. Additional services can help you better manage course materials, buyback and your store system.

“We really appreciate having an additional set of eyes on what we are doing. It saves us so much time later. That’s the sort of customer service that makes it possible for us to keep bringing in used books,” Shannon Blackadder, Textbook and Trade Manager, University of Calgary Bookstore said. “We are operating with about a third of the staff we had four to five years ago. Without the additional help to preemptively fix problems, we would have to make hard choices about what we can reasonably accomplish with the staff we have. However, with the help of our MBS representatives and the services MBS provides, we can continue to offer students a variety of course material choices that help us keep costs down.”

Find out how the University of Calgary Bookstore works to give students the best possible price.

“I have always felt MBS really listens to their clients’ needs and concerns. They always try to accommodate our requests, but never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that we could accomplish this project within six weeks,” Patricia Clark, General Manager of Commodore Books & More, Lorain County Community College, said. “We had several significant goals for the redesign. We wanted a professional top-notch site, to increase sales, to streamline the ordering process, to reduce the number of calls to the store, add additional information concerning bookstore policy and improve our website’s efficiency. Peter’s expertise is beyond words. He went above and beyond our expectations with the end product.”

Get the tools to keep up with market demands and trends

The college store industry has continued to quickly evolve. Make sure you have the tools to help keep up with market demands and manage your unique business.

“JCCC has used MBS systems for as long as I have been here, which is almost 19 years. Over those 19 years, we’ve seen many changes from implementing rental programs to inclusive access, publisher consignment rentals and digital offerings. MBS has really grown, evolved and adapted to those changes. That has allowed us to continue serving our customer base and provide the materials they need to be successful,” said Kristine Herman, Manager, Johnson County Community College Bookstore.

Watch the Campus Store Conversations with Kristine Herman discussing how her store keeps up with market demands and trends.

Listen to your campus community

Unlike other retailers, the campus store is an integral part of campus. Work on building student, faculty and administrative relationships.

“Our bookstore committee meets twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. It started before I was in this position. I think the biggest concern going in is that it would devolve into a lot of complaining about the bookstore. We do get that a little, but really it has helped us open a dialogue between the various groups on campus who are concerned with course materials, which has been invaluable,” Tim Reger, Bookstore Director, Grand View University Bookstore said. “Faculty can hear the feedback that we get from students directly and maybe speak to some of their concerns. They can give students some context regarding course materials. For example, a common frustration for students is why do they have to spend a certain amount for a specific course material or why did we pick a certain type of material. Faculty know what goes into choosing certain types of course materials and can help explain that to students.

“From the bookstore perspective, we want to be the collaborator that brings these two parties together,” Reger said. “This helps reinforce that the bookstore is the hub of course materials on campus, and we can also listen to the students’ concerns and speak to our role in the course material ecosystem.”


Prepare for the future of course materials. Schedule an appointment with your  MBS Field Marketing Territory Manager. Schedule an appointment


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