What advantages set the campus store apart from its competitors? Campus stores have direct access to students, exclusive channels of communication, the largest variety of payment methods, more innate trust and a mission that extends beyond retail. Let’s take a look at the five specific ways your store can build student engagement.
Five Ways to Boost Student Engagement
- Student communication
Communication is key to student engagement for obvious reasons. If students aren’t aware of the options and great prices they can get in the store, then they will go where they feel most comfortable. Begin communicating with students at the earliest possible time and keep putting your message out. In addition to emails, texts, posters and flyers, look for out-of-the-box ways you can reach students like making sure your store is included on campus tours and during welcome events. Take special care to educate tour guides about the benefits of buying from the campus store.
Create email and/or text message marketing campaigns for each year of students that addresses them and their unique situations. For example, first year students might be uncertain how and when to get their materials. They might also have questions about the available formats. Whereas a fourth-year student probably knows most of that and would be more engaged by nostalgia.
Additionally, make buying course materials as easy as possible. Offer counter service, give students delivery options and make it simple for students to get their schedule-specific course materials online. For example, MBS system partners can utilize registrar’s link so students can go directly to the online store from their schedule and the online cart is pre-populated with their schedule-specific course materials. Check out this article to learn more tips for communicating with students.
- More options
Course material options (used, new, digital, rental, etc.) bring students into the store. Through a full array of options students have greater cost saving opportunities, they can select the format of their choice and they develop a greater sense of trust with the bookstore.
For example, offering students a robust rental program can help lower student costs and provide an option they might otherwise look for online.
“Our in-house rental program gives students options aside from purchasing textbooks or using digital. Our digital sales have increased, and we have a robust inclusive access program. However, it's about offering students as many options as possible. We want them to shop with us, and options give us a competitive advantage,” said University of St. Thomas Campus Stores Course Material Manager Tami Steinke.
Read more about how campus stores stay competitive with rental.
- Build trust
Though students can recoup some of their textbook costs at the end of the term, it is often hard for students to make that connection when they are purchasing their books. After all, buyback seems so far away, they don’t know how much they will get or if the book will even be bought back. That’s where offering a guaranteed buyback comes in.
College stores can guarantee a minimum buyback price on qualifying textbooks upfront (communicating guaranteed buyback can be as simple as stickering books and adding the minimum buyback price to shelf tags). When purchasing textbooks at the beginning of term, students can easily identify the guaranteed buyback books and see the minimum they will receive back at the end of term. This lets them know the true cost of their textbooks and makes the price and buyback amount fully transparent.
Read more about how MBS can help your store grow your guaranteed buyback
- Set the customer experience apart
Whether a customer comes into your store, visits your eCommerce site or just reads an email sent by your store, the customer experience factors in heavily with how much or how little that customer will choose to engage with your store.
In today’s retail world, fast, convenient service is key. That’s why MBS has released system updates designed to help stores:
- Better succeed in a competitive market with improved customer relationship management
- Personalize marketing with extractable data
- Quickly locate customer and transaction information with intuitive search and filtering options
- Streamline inclusive access management with time saving integrations
- Better highlight merchandise on the college store site
Watch this video highlighting some of our recent updates designed to streamline customer interactions.
- Give students a welcomed surprise
Students might think they know everything they need to know about the campus store. However, how many students on your campus haven’t experienced a “typical” buyback? Because of the pandemic, probably quite a few.
Now is a great time to reintroduce buyback to students. Make sure students understand what it is and why it is worth selling back their books. One way to do that is to offer them great prices for their unwanted textbooks.
Recently Lafayette College Store made waves with students just by hosting 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. 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,” said Lafayette College Store Course Materials Coordinator Darrell Parry.
Read more about how Lafayette College Store worked to increase student awareness about buyback.