College stores are a misunderstood part of campus. Tasked with supporting students and generating revenue, stores are caught in the middle of two conflicting goals. For those who don’t live and breathe the industry every single day, it’s easy to lose sight of how the store enhances day-to-day campus life and all it does to help students, faculty and the school. That’s why it’s important to share more of what you do to enhance affordability and student life with the campus community.
4 ways to demonstrate your store’s value to campus
- Explain how the college store supports campus
Help students and faculty see your store as a campus resource. Share the ways the store contributes to your college, whether that is through scholarships, putting money back into the school, supporting student organizations or groups, or any other way your store gives back to the campus community.
“We give about $3 million each year to the student union and that helps support the student union as a whole, but also helps reduce cost of the student activity fees,” said Oklahoma State University Store Assistant Director of Course Content Delivery Starla Marshall.
By sharing information like this with students and faculty, you demonstrate why it is important to shop on campus rather than going elsewhere. College stores sell the merchandise students need, but they also care about student success, enhance the student experience and contribute to campus life.
- Promote how your store enhances shopping convenience
Share with students how their shopping experience can be more convenient. Use email to promote your time-saving programs that students might not know about. Programs like online ordering, in-store pickup or delivery can help change the way students perceive your store. Promoting these programs could encourage students who haven’t used the bookstore in the past to give it a try.
If you participate in student orientation events, consider including some tips on how students can beat the crowds and avoid lines during rush.
- Share how much you help students save
College affordability is an important topic for students, faculty and administrators. As national awareness of student debt, hunger and stress increases, the need to maximize student affordability grows. Inform your campus community about the in-store programs that save students the most money, like rental or inclusive access. Sharing that information will let faculty know how they can help keep the cost of their classes down and let students know about low-cost options available in the bookstore.
Start the student affordability message during orientation. As more nontraditional and first-generation students join campuses, it’s important for the bookstore to educate students and families about the different course material options available to them. To ensure families understand the cost of course materials, UCM University Store Director Charlie Rutt makes the University Store a staple at UCM orientation. His PowerPoint presentation leads off with a slide demonstrating the bookstore’s efforts to keep prices low, highlighting that students saved $2.96 million in 2017 through the store’s rental program. After that he talks about the pros and cons of the various format options, making sure everyone has the information they need to make an informed purchase.
By highlighting your store’s affordability initiatives like price matching, students, parents and faculty can see that the store is doing everything it can to make learning more affordable for all students.
- Highlight how faculty can help lower student costs
Student affordability starts with faculty. Your prices are dependent on the materials faculty adopt and the timeliness of those adoptions. Use real data from your store to help show faculty and departments the key role they play in lowering student costs. How many more students buy course materials when they have a format choice? What format do most students choose? How much do they save over the cost of a new textbook? What is the student cost difference between an on-time adoption and a late adoption? How much can an inclusive access course save students? Collecting information about specific classes can help you illustrate why it is important to work with the bookstore to offer students the affordable solutions they need.
The bookstore is a valuable campus resource. Get involved and work with as many departments as you can to make sure the bookstore’s voice is heard. By supplying faculty and students with relevant, useful and easy-to-understand information, you can make a difference on campus and in student lives.