Recently, Hibbing Community College merged with four other regional colleges in northern Minnesota, creating the new Minnesota North College. In order to accommodate the merger, the five separate college bookstores have consolidated into one bookstore serving six campuses. Consolidating resources, the smaller stores are able to effectively serve their campuses as well as thoughtfully evolve to better compete in a changing market. We recently sat down with Bookstore Coordinator Becky Mayo to discuss how MBS Store Technology Solutions is helping them with this evolution.
"Coming together, we were five separate accounts all operating on the MBS system. Each store utilized the system somewhat differently. Most of us used Text (TA) and GM functionality in the system. Two stores used inSite eCommerce and online ordering,” Mayo said. “Now, all five accounts are combined into one account. We have upgraded our functionality to TA2/GM2 as well as consolidated to one eCommerce site through inSite for ordering. We have been learning those idiosyncrasies between the new-to-us environments in the system, but the long-term benefits for our stores makes it worthwhile.”
The MBS System offers college stores expansive course material and general merchandise management functionality. Arc TA2 offers the most comprehensive text multi-store management functionality in the industry, providing store personnel with the tools to increase customer satisfaction while paving the way for increased top-line revenue and reduced expenses.
The general merchandise application offers everything needed to expand the success of the merchandise department and capitalize on the revenue potential it offers — even in a multi-store environment. The flexible solution simplifies inventory management with seamless purchase operations, streamlined receiving, in-depth tracking and robust administrative reporting — all making it easier for store staff to do more with fewer resources.
“TA2 opens doors and gives us a lot of the options we were looking for with managing multiple stores. Minnesota State schools also operate on the real-time integration. By creating a connection between the MBS system and our school system, our store has more options. We can automatically charge books to students’ accounts using SFA,” Mayo said. “The support team has been really terrific throughout this transformation. We have had a weekly meeting to help get us through the whole transition with everyone on it. Pretty much if you touch the bookstore in anyway, you are on the meeting.
“Angela Gray [MBS Store Technology Solutions Implementation and Project Manager] is a godsend. I don't know how anyone survives or gets anything done without her,” Mayo said. “We have felt like an absolute priority to MBS through the transition. Angela keeps us all organized and gives us a weekly checklist with what we need to do, what we have accomplished, who's taking care of what tasks, who still needs to take care of something, etc. She and the rest of the team have really walked us through every step in making this transition happen.”
The group also decided to focus their efforts on one central eCommerce site that students from all five campuses can utilize. Through the MBS system, stores can easily manage their eCommerce site and focus on vital online sales opportunities. MBS support offers expert help in the creation of sites as well as working with stores to keep them up to date.
With MBS inSite:
- Increase website sales with promo codes
- Easily sell all types of course materials and offer textbook price comparison
- Provide students with multiple payment options, including financial aid and campus cards
- Email or text students about shipping, buyback prices and rental returns
- Convert abandoned carts into sales with automatic customer reminder emails
“Our inSite Support Representative is Johnny-on-the-spot with everything we need. She built our eCommerce site for us. We gave her different things we liked off of other sites, and she took care of the rest. When we need something, we let her know and it gets done. It is that easy,” Mayo said.
“We also work with Malissa Weimer [TAOnline/GMOnline Application Specialist]. She helps give us a big picture view of our system. She's the high-level guru,” Mayo said. “Brian Howard [Senior Account Specialist) is our Arc rep. Between Brian and Malissa, they cover a lot of things and are always willing to jump on a quick training call with us about specific issues. However, we have also met with the training team on multiple occasions to better learn the new features within the system.”
Through dedication, willingness to learn and a strong support team, the stores have been able to come together to form one stronger group that can better serve each campus.
“Even though we are physically separated, we can all be working on the same thing. It’s exciting how many options that gives us to pool our resources and split up duties. We are really creating this new model that will work for each of our campuses,” Mayo said. “We had five separate bookstore coordinators who all handled every step from the importing of courses to adoptions, ordering, returns, receiving, actual orders, and checking out books in the store — as well as all of the merchandise side of things. Now, we have five really knowledgeable coordinators who can focus on specific areas, but also step in and cover for each other as necessary. We have an ability to divide and conquer in a way we couldn’t have done before.”
If your store is getting ready to go through any kind of system transition, Mayo suggests that you take the time to research and know the options available to you.
“Know your options. That was our first approach. We were on TA and did a side-by-side comparison with TA2. You have to determine what your ultimate goal is and look for the right tools to help you reach that goal. We were going from five stores to one. TA2 gave us the option to transfer between stores a lot more fluidly.”