Strong customer service, a seamless student experience and an improved environmental footprint are important priorities for the Mount Allison University Bookstore. We recently sat down with Jenna Boomer, Manager, Bookstore & Support Services, Mount Allison University, to discuss how the store’s partnership with MBS Store Technology Solutions offers them the support they need to realize their goals.
“We utilize MBS Store Technology Solutions for our inventory, POS and eCommerce platforms to serve our students, faculty and staff, alumni, and the general public. Over the past few years, we have been adopting new and different aspects of the system. Currently, we are moving toward emailed receipts and emailed end-of-day reports. Our goal is to create more of a paperless environment,” Boomer said. “There are a host of costs associated with having daily reports run on paper and paper receipts. So, if we can look at eliminating some of those costs, it makes a difference for both our store and our overall carbon footprint that we report on annually.”
Creating a better retail experience
In addition to refining in-store processes, the store staff is always working toward creating a better overall experience for students.
“Another goal is learning how to best use the system to its full capacity. We're exploring system integration opportunities on campus as well as the other opportunities provided by the MBS platform, such as linking students from the Registrar’s Office site directly to their course materials on our eCommerce site, so they can easily purchase the books they need,” Boomer said. “It’s important to create more of a seamless experience for the students. They register for classes, get their materials, and they don't have to worry about it again. ”
Streamlining online shopping
One increasingly important aspect of the college store system is the eCommerce platform. In order to best serve students and alumni, the eCommerce platform must help streamline the online shopping experience as well as back-office processes.
“The website has become an unbelievable resource for us. We were able to link our website with our eTextbook provider, CEI, and it made a huge difference. Now, we're not handling those orders directly. eTextbook orders are picked and packed automatically, and the students receive their access codes instantaneously, providing a better experience for them,” Boomer said. “The MBS Store Technology Solutions support team has been wonderful for anything that we've needed, such as setting the system up to blind carbon copy us on every order that goes through in case a student loses their access code. The integrations and eCommerce site have made our bookstore experience very different. We're not seeing a lineup of 100 or 200 students at a time in the store. They're making those purchases online and asking for in-store pick up. If they order physical copies, we pick it, pack it and have it ready for them within a couple of hours, rather than 24 to 48 hours. The faster turnaround time has improved customer experience.”
Competing with large online retailers
Offering students a more convenient, streamlined shopping experience is necessary to meet expectations, serve the campus community and compete with larger online retailers.
“We offer students a books-on-beds as a delivery option. Books-on-beds orders can be placed up to a certain date. We will deliver their orders directly to their residence room. This is only applicable to those who are living in residence, in advance of their arrival. This year, we saw an uptick with more than 200 books-on-beds orders in September,” Boomer said. “Part of our goal is creating that convenience environment. The student population are used to just-in-time, almost-instant ordering processes. They've grown up in a world of two-day shipping. So, if we can turn orders around within 24 hours, then that’s a good customer service experience for them. Being able to deliver to the residence rooms means they have one less stressor that they have to worry about when they are moving in.”
An outstanding level of support
One important aspect of being able to provide students with this elevated level of service is ensuring the store also gets an outstanding level of support from its system provider. From POS to eCommerce and back-office management, MBS Store Technology Solutions connects college store partners with subject matter support experts to help them every step of the way.
“The MBS Store Technology Solutions support teams have been wonderful. The POS support staff is very responsive. If we need help getting back online, they quickly find a solution. They help us troubleshoot the cause and are unbelievable with getting us operational. They've also been great about helping me make sure our services are operating at an optimal level,” Boomer said.
“On the Arc side, our customer service representative has been unbelievably responsive. She has a wealth of information. If I have a question, I just say to her ‘how do I do this, how do I fix this or I think I made a mistake.’ I can reach out almost at any time and get a quick answer. Even with the time difference, if I email during the latter part of the day, I always have that response waiting for me the next morning so I'm able to get a jump on whatever we’re trying to troubleshoot.
“From revamping our entire site in the summer of 2020 to just ongoing maintenance, our inSite representative has been a great resource and is always there to answer my questions. He's been great about answering our questions, helping with pictures and layouts, and pointing me in the right direction because I'm always looking at how to make our site better. He provides recommendations of other sites to look at to see if there are things that we could adopt that may benefit our customer experience,” Boomer said. “I have also worked with MBS Store Technology Solutions Sales Manager Rick Curtis on identifying new retail opportunities for processing orders. It’s all-around support.”
Working with MBS Store Technology Solutions provides Mount Allison University Bookstore with a team of individuals who are able to offer direct, specialized help and support for every aspect of the system.
“I think one of the advantages of working with MBS is that I have a variety of individuals with specialized skills that are able to help us provide superior customer service and customer experience. From web-based solutions to looking at additional retail options, they provide a well-rounded picture for our retail environment. It is almost turnkey. We can just step in and go,” Boomer said. “When you are looking for a system partner, ultimately you want to make sure that you have a point of contact within the company that you can rely on. That's one of the biggest pieces MBS does so well. There is a contact for everything. Not just one individual to funnel you through. Everything is compartmentalized into subject matter experts and MBS is very clear about who you should contact. I think that is a huge selling point.”