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Campus Store Conversations: Forging Strong Campus Connections

Posted by Liz Schulte on 1/27/21 6:30 AM
Topics: college store growth opportunity, college bookstore industry trends, future of the textbook industry

As John Donne famously wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Just like we are all connected, the college store is part of the greater campus community. Strong campus relationships can help stores in a variety of ways, such as bringing new store opportunities, improving student communication or ensuring on-time faculty adoptions.

Forging Strong Campus ConnectionsThrough our conversations with college stores, several have shared how they have worked with stakeholders across their campus and achieved fantastic results. Check out what different stores have said below.

  • Lower Columbia College Bookstore implemented a new collegiate retail system in a month’s time. Part of ensuring success with the transition was making sure they had buy-in from the various departments on campus.

    “Definitely get your IT & purchasing department stakeholders involved early. That was something we did that allowed for such great success during our implementation. I would personally budget for three to six months for a full implementation initially. We were in a slightly different scenario when we had to make the switch, as our contract was closing with the previous supplier and it would cost the college too vast of an expense for what we were receiving from that vendor. By involving your various on-campus teams as soon as possible, you increase the likelihood of success for the project and overall that success translates to a better experience for your students. We have learned a lot, but I’m very grateful we made the transition,” said Alyssa Milano-Hightower, MBA, Lower Columbia College Bookstore Director of Enterprise Services.

    Read more about LCC Bookstore’s transition to the MBS collegiate retail system.

  • Elizabethtown College Store was able to capitalize on a new opportunity for sales by working with its administration. When faced with significantly decreased foot traffic and the store location closed off to campus visitors, they were able to set up pop-up locations that provided everyone on campus an opportunity to shop with the store.

    “The idea for a pop-up location came up at the last minute. We were just reopening the store and had hundreds of book orders that were for in-store pickup. We found out that move in was being pushed back and spread out, so we would actually need to ship all of those orders out. We were in the midst of figuring that out when the administration asked us to also set up an outside retail location on the various move-in days. Only people with a campus ID can enter our building right now, so this would help us serve campus visitors as students move in. I wasn’t sure we could do it. There are only three of us here, and we had never really had pop-up stores, but we figured it out,” Sue Doremus, Director, Elizabethtown College Store, “I was worried we would end up in the field, but we ended up on the front patio of our building. Our wonderful conference staff put tents up for us, and we set up a store. We ran it for the 10 days that students arrived with their parents. The parents were happy. A lot of parents did have orders in here to be picked up, so we did a lot of running back and forth into the store, but it worked.”

    Read more about Elizabethtown College Store’s experience with pop-up retail locations.

  • Peninsula College Bookstore works with deans on campus to help ensure timely faculty adoptions. By involving the deans in a small way, they have been able to get great results.

    “Getting instructor support is my best advice. Work with the deans and get as much support as you can because they have sway over faculty. If you send the email, it’s just another nagging email from the bookstore. However, when the dean sends it, that is your boss telling you that you need to do something. It makes a huge difference,” Peninsula College Director of Enterprise Services Camilla Rico “And for students, it’s important that they have all that information upfront. It’s always important, but right now, it is even more so. Students already have a lot of questions and so many processes have changed. It’s hard to find all the information. Knowing what books they will need for their courses so they can get them ordered just helps streamline the process for them. Essentially, it’s just better for the students.”

    Read more about Peninsula College Bookstore’s communication strategies.

  • Washington and Lee University Store has been able to improve its student communication by working with the university to get messages out to the student population.

    “We have Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts for the store. Instagram seems to be the best platform to reach our students,” Washington and Lee University Store Marketing Manager Meg Beebe “The University has a newsletter that goes out daily to students and faculty called Campus Notices. We can advertise there and on display monitors around campus. But generally, we just like to have a strong social media presence. We get the most information out that way.”

    Read more about how Washington and Lee University Store utilizes business intelligence to analyze sales during COVID-19.

  • The Shocker Store at Wichita State University has been able to increase web orders and offer dorm deliveries for the first time. By working with the Housing and Residential Life department on its campus, they have been able to offer this additional service to students, helping ensure those students in quarantine are still able to receive their course materials as soon as possible.

    “We typically have a large international student population. We knew there was a chance that some of these students would have to be in isolation for a period of time. Dorm delivery gave us an opportunity to provide a service to students without putting anyone at risk,” Wichita State University Shocker Stores Director Andi Stipp said. “We worked with Housing and Residence Life (HRL) on campus to make this happen. When we approached them about helping us initiate dorm delivery, they said, ‘Yeah, let’s do this. Let’s make it easier for our students who are going to be adjusting to college and to being away from home during a pandemic.’ We really thought about how we could help reduce student stress. So, we partnered with them (HRL), and they were great to work with.”

    Read more about how Wichita State increased web orders.

By working with campus departments, stores have been able to identify and benefit from new opportunities to improve student service. How has your store successfully worked with other departments on campus?


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