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Holy Cross Bookstore Brings Traffic to Buyback with Exclusive T-Shirt

Posted by admin on 2/19/12 10:00 PM
Topics: college store stories

For years, Holy Cross Bookstore’s buyback was a breeze. Students came in, sold their books, and the store generated the quantities of titles that they needed for future semesters. So in 2009, when they suddenly noticed a decline in their buy, they knew something had changed.

MBS Foreword Online - The first 200 students to sell books back at Holy Cross Bookstore received this exclusive t-shirt, never before sold in the store.

The store’s staff soon realized that the cause of their problem was the same many others in the industry are currently facing: buyback predators. With an influx of competition coming onto the campus, students had more options and were comparing prices, causing some to sell their books elsewhere.

Rather than just surrender their market share to these off-campus buyers, however, the store decided to fight back!

“Since that time, we have tried numerous promotions to entice students to sell at our store,” explained David McKenna, director. “We’ve implemented giveaways and handed out coupons but neither just seemed to be that effective.”

Determined to find a solution, the staff of the store decided to try a new kind of promotion this December.

“This year, we gave a t-shift featuring a never-before used logo to the first 200 students that sold their books back to us,” McKenna described. “Students really seemed to respond and it’s been a huge success!”

Working with their MBS Representative, Kim Miner, the store came up with a unique concept to feature on the shirts, and then used their MBS marketing allowance to purchase them, incurring no cost!

“I really applaud MBS for all that they do to help with this type of promotion, because it’s something we hadn’t thought of and it really attracted students,” he said.

Once the one-of-a-kind shirts, featuring the slogan ‘Purple Reign,’ were created and ordered, the store set about spreading the word to their customer base.

“We send an email to our students every semester reminding them about buyback,” he explained. “But, this year, we replaced the typical ‘cash for books’ message with an image of the t-shirt. I rarely ever get a response to those emails, but right after sending this one I must have had 100 in my inbox from students asking how buyback worked and if their books were eligible so that they could get that shirt; it was amazing!”

The enthusiasm level only grew from there!

“The results were just incredible! For the first time in awhile, we had a line at buyback,” McKenna described. “We actually had to add an extra buyer because we were so busy! Students were rushing in to be one of the first 200; they just loved it!”

The key to the promotion was the sense of urgency it created, according to McKenna.

“Because they knew the item was limited, students were coming to us first before even visiting those other buyers to compare prices,” he said. “It worked out great!”

In fact, the shirt’s popularity brought a steady flow of traffic into the store even after the buy had ended.

“People kept coming in and asking if we had any more of those shirts for sale,” he added. “I’m no genius, but if students are actually asking you for something it must be popular, so I ordered more and brought it on as a regular SKU!”

Since then, the shirt had continued to sell well, only adding to the promotion’s benefits.

“Multiple students will stop in and purchase their shirt before a basketball game; it’s turned into this group thing,” he said. “I think to them the shirt represents a kind of ‘super fan’ status and we’ve never carried that kind of merchandise before.”

Because the shirt was so successful, the store plans to continue with a new design next year.

“It’s a great way for us to take a chance on a logo that we might not typically carry in the store,” he explained. “If it’s popular during buyback, we know we should bring it on as full-time merchandise. If not, there’s always next year!”

They may also expand on the idea by getting students involved.

“We’ve thought about possibly making it into a contest where students could submit their own designs and then vote to select their favorite,” he added.

All in all, the staff of Holy Cross Bookstore is excited that they have found a promotion that resonates with their customers. To others who are looking to bring students back to their buy, McKenna has one suggestion:

“Don’t give up! Keep experimenting and see what works for your students,” he said. “The key is to get the kids in as early as you possibly can before they even notice all those other buyers! Incentives do work; it may take awhile to figure out which ones are best, but it’s all worth it in the end!“

How does your store combat buyback competition? Share your ideas with others by commenting below!

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