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How Is Course Material Distribution Changing?

Posted by Liz Schulte on 6/21/21 6:45 AM
Topics: college bookstore industry trends, college store industry, textbooks industry trends

The transformative nature of 2020 has affected nearly every aspect of the college store. So, what does that mean for course materials and how has it impacted distribution? This post will explore industry changes and how MBS is working to help college stores.

How Is Course Material Distribution Changing?Course Material Ordering

College stores choose to handle wantlists in different ways. However, the common goal is to get the books you need at the lowest possible cost. One strategy for maximizing wantlist fulfillment that stores use is to submit your wantlist as soon as possible and leave it with MBS for a length of time — a bin and hold. During this time, this list is compared against MBS’ fluid inventory multiple times a day, increasing the number of books available to your store.

MBS’ popular and innovative ordering tool, SimpleSource, offers stores easy wantlist management coupled with the option to shop the marketplace. College stores everywhere are benefiting from:

  • More inventory at a lower average cost
  •  An automated wantlisting process that displays results in real time
  • One shipment with one invoice

“Another feature we like is that you can have it work for a day, a week, a month or six weeks. We choose and control that. I know a lot of other places don’t allow that flexibility. Like most stores, we shop multiple places for used books, but if you are going to leave your list with one company to work it continuously, I don’t know why SimpleSource wouldn’t be a fantastic option for your store. You’re sourcing from the largest wholesaler with the biggest inventory available. It makes no sense not to do it,” Matt Schleede, Director of Inventory Management, University of Washington, said.

ASAP orders also can play a major role in the college store ordering process. They offer stores the quick turnaround time necessary for late adoptions or last-minute needs. This ordering method provides stores with the flexibility to quickly adapt to situations as they arise.

To help ensure the MBS warehouse can offer the most efficient and timely response to orders, our company has made a major investment in our facility. Through increased automation, we can better provide college stores the necessary books to serve students prior to the start of class.

“Increasing the automation in the MBS warehouse adds greater efficiency to our order processing and ensures college stores have the course materials to serve students in a timely manner,” MBS President David Henderson said.

Watch a video highlighting our warehouse automation.

Distribution Options

College stores have done a lot to evolve with an ever-changing environment. Over the past 18 months, many stores have added previously unavailable distribution options, such as order pickup, dorm delivery, delivery, new locations for order distribution, etc.

The MBS system offers college stores the necessary tools to manage and streamline a variety of distribution methods. This innovative system flexibility ensures that a college store can select the best distribution method to serve its customers and campus.

“Some of the best features of the MBS inSite system we used this year were creating a curbside pickup and setting up what days this pickup could be done. I was happy to have the ability to go in and create a new pickup method and have the flexibility to add notes that appear on the website for students to see. This was also nice to turn on and off as needed or to add additional service options like pickup at a regional center,” Lincoln Land Community College’s Director of Campus Services Andrew Blaylock said. “During the time when we were shut down to in-store sales, the ability to create an email fulfillment was also very helpful. We had already purchased many codes on hard stock paper that were on our shelves, and with all our classes going online for summer, we didn’t want to have to physically ship these to students. So, we created an ‘email fulfilled’ option on our site with a zero-dollar ship charge and had staff scan and email hundreds of codes to students.”

Read more about how Lincoln Land Community College Bookstore tripled web orders in 2020.

Inclusive Access and Digital Accessibility

Inclusive access and digital accessibility help ensure students have even more options for low-cost course materials through the campus store.

MBS Store Technology Solutions offers solutions that help college stores increase digital textbook offerings and simplify inclusive access with key features and integrations. RedShelf, VitalSource and CEI can all be sold in-store through POS and online. During the adoption process, digital options from the digital vendor catalogs will automatically display for any print ISBNs that are selected and can be adopted at that time. If the course is only using digital, then just the digital ISBN can be selected, creating the adoption record.

Additionally, in partnership with VitalSource, we are rolling out integrations from our system to the VitalSource/Verba Connect platform to support inclusive access. The integrations seamlessly share inclusive access adoptions, updating both platforms and streamlining the presentation on the eCommerce site.

Find out how the MBS system can help stores simplify inclusive access and increase digital textbook offerings. Watch the 2021 MBS Spring Forums webinar: Solutions for Boosting Inclusive Access and Digital Accessibility.


Find out how MBS can help you reduce overhead, save students money and  streamline operations with a tailored retail management system. Learn More


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