Utilizing the complete MBS system, the University of Manitoba (UM) BookStore effectively manages every aspect of the college store and has achieved fantastic results. We recently spoke with Craig Bauer, Course Materials Manager, University of Manitoba BookStore, about how they use the MBS system to help streamline store management from general merchandise to course material distribution.
As a long-time MBS system partner, the UM BookStore has grown and evolved alongside industry changes. The MBS system has helped them serve their campus and achieve the accuracy and control over inventory that college stores need to thrive.
“Probably the number one benefit of partnering with MBS Store Technology Solutions has been the array and number of applications that are housed in Arc. It has really allowed our purchasing and accounting teams to work in tandem with one another and achieve a high level of accuracy and control over our inventory,” Bauer said. “Honestly, we have such a ridiculously low level of inventory shrinkage, by industry standards. We have our processes outlined and they work time and again. Those processes are possible because of the breadth of applications in Arc — the different accounting-related functions, point-of-sale functions, purchasing functions and the ability to run everything through stock ledger. It's just a powerful set of applications that positions us to perform with a high level of accuracy in our receiving, sales and purchasing. That translates into a really low level of shrinkage, which is terrific for our bottom line.”
Streamlining college store function with Arc
MBS’ retail-application suite, Arc, provides college stores with a wide array of tools necessary to streamline back-office tasks. The UM BookStore uses the flexible components to save time on daily tasks, better serve customers and efficiently analyze sales.
“Arc is a great resource for managing general merchandise. We make use of trade books, special orders, stock ledger — which interfaces with our institution’s general ledger — accounts payable and receivable functions, and so much more,” Bauer said. “The quote module has been fantastic for maintaining our computer product section within the store. The Arc-based applications on the GM side allow us to purchase, retail and invoice a wider variety of goods and services beyond just traditional textbooks. That's been a big benefit.”
The MBS system also provides unparalleled course material management. With the wide variety of course material formats now available, the UM BookStore is able to streamline processes and save a significant amount of time.
“The textbook functionality within Arc allows our course material team to rapidly adopt titles across multiple sections for any given course and adjust the new book purchases they're going to make based on expected used book wantlist totals. Those totals feed back into inventory records and takes into account our projections for used books acquired through our in-store buybacks. All of this allows the course materials team to work in a really efficient manner. That's a big benefit,” Bauer said.
“Another part that has helped our store incredibly is the integration between MBS and the campus ebookstore (CEI). The integration has been so valuable for us. When a customer makes those purchases, the integration pushes the confirmation email to the student along with the redemption code that the CEI system requires a customer to have to unlock their purchase,” Bauer said. “It has saved us so much staff time. If we had to manually process digital sales, we'd be drowning and not able to keep up. It's huge for streamlining store processes, saving us so much labor time.”
Like many college stores, the UM BookStore serves many students who utilize student financial aid. It is important for stores to be able to streamline financial aid usage, so all students have access to the learning materials they need.
“Here at the University of Manitoba, we have a significant percentage of sponsored students within our student population year in and year out. The SFA application is just terrific for helping us manage those student financial aid accounts efficiently,” Bauer said. “That's a really big value-added feature that we provide to the university community. We are able to manage those accounts smoothly and provide a high level of customer service to the student side as well as the sponsorship side of that equation.”
Supporting critical college store functions
Throughout the partnership, the level of support a college store receives can have a significant impact on how efficiently and effectively they are able to serve their campus and students. MBS Store Technology Solutions partners receive assigned support representatives to ensure they always have fast, accurate solutions.
“MBS support helps us maintain the integrity of the interfaces that we have with our institution’s registrar’s office. That is critical because through those interfaces, we are able to import the course instruction architecture for each academic term. It allows us to push out the listing of course materials for every course and section back through the registrar's office, which populates customized course material information for each student based on their enrollment. Without MBS support we couldn’t accomplish that interchange of data that is just absolutely critical for keeping us viable and valued on campus,” Bauer said.
“Our Arc account specialist, Brian, has been with us since the beginning. Brian is great. He has such a deep understanding of MBS applications and the ability to bring the right people within MBS together to find solutions to problems when they arise. We just couldn't do it without Brian. He's been fantastic.”