MBS was once again proud to take part in the ICBA conference this year and to support independent college stores. MBS Representatives enjoyed seeing and speaking with the many college store professionals in attendance. As always, it was great to hear what everyone is focused on for the spring term and the plans they are making for fall.
“Right now, it is still a very fluid situation for stores. Some are planning end-of-term buys and live graduation events, while others are focused on virtual or hybrid events,” Dave Mulberger, Eastern Region Manager, said.
“Primarily, conversations at ICBA centered around the many recent challenges faced, changes college stores have had to make in the past 12 months, and how we can work together to minimize the ongoing pains of these unknowns. Stores have moved from a reactive response when the pandemic first hit to a proactive stance now. How stores are approaching the end of this academic year and beyond remains a very fluid topic — still changing by the day. Some stores have been told students won’t be returning to campus after spring break, and many are waiting for campus directives to determine what will be happening for fall,” Elizabeth Taylor, Western Region Manager, said. “During these uncertain times, MBS offers stability and resources for our college store partners to lower acquisition costs with tools like SimpleSource. Our flexibility with our many services, while adapting to the needs of our clients, has given stores the extra help they need. Our goal at MBS is always to offer assistance any way we can, with our field team remaining in constant communication with our customers and being an advocate for them.”
Director of Field Marketing Jerry Lynch and Systems Sales Manager Chris Bovi led a Business Encounter Session titled: Accelerating Change: Meeting Today’s Market Demands With MBS. During the session, they highlighted many of the ways MBS helps college stores keep up with rapidly evolving market demands.
Jerry Lynch began the session sharing the various tools MBS has for college stores to help you better serve your campus, save money and streamline efficiencies. Lynch shared how MBS was able to maintain uninterrupted operations throughout the pandemic, including how employees were able to seamlessly transition to a work-from-home environment, how we safely added more than 250 seasonal warehouse employees to meet demands and how our unchanged sales force offered stores stability in an uncertain time.
In addition, he shared the investments we are making to continue to better serve college stores, including a significant warehouse upgrade that will continue to streamline distribution, new system technology, and the many tools and programs we offer college stores to save money, add efficiency and have more time. These include the MBS Premier Partnership, SimpleSource, a discount off of publisher net pricing on new books, and access to expanded digital catalogs including VitalSource and RedShelf.
“MBS has the resources to help college stores get more textbooks at a better price. We work hard to be a partner that college stores can trust while offering real value and stability to stores in a changing environment,” Lynch said. “ICBA is always a great event because it brings customers and vendors together in an educational atmosphere.”
Chris Bovi presented the second half of the presentation highlighting the system’s constantly evolving applications that improve functionality. Well before the COVID-19 eCommerce boost, our partner stores have benefited from:
- Responsive web design
- Merchandise filters that simplify the customer’s shopping experience
- Color, size and logo tiles that are inventory sensitive to display what your store has available to customers in their size
- Pick-up or location scheduling, automated web order picking
- Shipping integrations
- High-level performance metrics and reporting that help stores make strong, data-informed decisions
Bovi then shared how COVID-19 has accelerated change within the industry. He noted that the move to online contributed to growth in digital materials and inclusive access programs. This increase in digital usage reinforces our expanded partnership with Verba/VitalSource to create seamless course material management across the board.
“MBS will offer college stores the ability to integrate with Connect and Collect to help streamline their inclusive access management,” Bovi said. “We are getting ready to move into a test environment with the Verba/VitalSource integration.”
After the session, MBS representatives were able to speak with customers directly in the virtual booth to answer questions and hear what they have going on in their stores and what type of assistance they need. Our representatives and virtual booth visitors discussed the specific challenges they face and ideas for how they can work through them.
“I hope people walked away with a renewed sense of confidence and new ideas,” Lilli Brooks, MBS Corporate Marketing Representative, said. “ It was great to hear what stores are doing, what their plans are for the future and how MBS can help stores navigate this environment.”