Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers



Campus Store Conversations: Skyline College Bookstore Discusses How to Maximize SimpleSource [Podcast]

Posted by Liz Schulte on 12/9/20 6:30 AM
Topics: wholesale textbooks, sourcing textbooks, used textbooks

On the latest Campus Store Conversations Podcast interview, Skyline College Bookstore Manager Kevin Chak shares how his store uses SimpleSource to save time and get more books. SImpleSource is an ordering tool from MBS that helps stores get more books for a lower average cost and saves time. Mr. Chak has been using SimpleSource for wholesale and marketplace inventory for more than a year and has had great results.

Skyline College Bookstore Discusses How to Maximize SimpleSourceListen to Lilli Brooks, Corporate Marketing Representative-MBS, and Kevin Chak discuss how Skyline College Bookstore uses SimpleSource to save money and get more books.

Campus Store Conversations Episode Three – Skyline College Bookstore

To read the entire transcript, scroll within the box below.

Lilli Brooks:

Hi, Kevin!

Kevin Chak:

Hi, Lilli.

Lilli Brooks:

How are you doing?

Kevin Chak:

Really good. Really good. I’m having fun working from home

Lilli Brooks:

So one of the reasons I chose you, Kevin, is I kind of refer to you as a super user of SimpleSource. Not only do you use SimpleSource for your traditional wholesale needs, but you also take advantage of the marketplace option that SimpleSource offers. Over the last 18 months that you have been using SimpleSource for your bin and holds, you have gotten hundreds of copies from the marketplace. We will get into that in just a little bit, but first I want to go over how SimpleSource has helped you with your wholesale needs.

So what would you say is the biggest impact that SimpleSource has had fulfilling your wholesale inventory?

Kevin Chak:

Definitely one of the biggest impacts is that I can basically call this the Ron Popeil of wantlisting. You just set it and forget it. I can do all of my adoptions at once. Send it over to SimpleSource and let the MBS magic take place. I can set parameters within SimpleSource to say how much I want and when I want to do things. That way I don’t have to worry about it and keep doing ASAP wantlists. The computer does it for me and keeps everything automated.

Lilli Brooks:

With SimpleSource you are able to see everything in real time, so you can to see your bin filling every day. I was wondering how often you actually log in to look at your order, see your fill rate and check how it’s going?

Kevin Chak:

When I am not in COVID mode, I try to check in every day, maybe twice a day. But now that I am working from home and one of the few people on campus, I am doing many other things. I don’t have the luxury to check it constantly. But sometimes, at night when I am at home, I will log in and take a quick peek. And then I know if I need to pull the responses in and revise my wantlist the next morning. I don’t do it at night because of the server backups and things like that. I don’t want to crisscross data and processes in the background.

Lilli Brooks:

When we created the tool, it was our goal that you guys would log in once a day and see how the order is going. I am glad to hear when it happens like that.

Kevin Chak:

Yeah. One of the cool things is that if it is late at night where the Arc servers are doing the backup processes, you can still go to SimpleSource. If something happens like you get an email late at night saying a class is canceled, you can stop in and control things for that particular title. You don’t have to have the carte blanche for the entire bin to be a certain percentage or 100%. If you need to increase or stop a certain title, you can. You can really customize things.

Lilli Brooks:

I was looking over your most recent order this morning, you have a current order placed, and I can see that you are getting a wide variety of discounts on your wholesale inventory, usually much higher than the standard 50%. Can you tell me what impact that has had on your sales?

Kevin Chak:

Even though everybody is online learning right now and people think eBooks or inclusive access is the thing, we are finding that many students are going through screen burnout — digital burnout. So even if there is an OER title or an eBook version, some students are still choosing to buy the print titles because it allows them disconnect from a digital devices. They like to go old school and have paper so they don’t get total digital burnout with all of their classes through Zoom or Google Hangouts or Classrooms.

So we are actually seeing a slight resurgence in print. It may cost a little bit more, but sometimes with the paperbacks, students select print over digital. Not just because of digital burnout, but also because of the lack of quality high speed internet or even digital devices that can handle some of these dynamic and high-tech digital classrooms.

Lilli Brooks:

So looking strictly at the numbers, I went through the last 18 months that you have been placing SimpleSource orders, and I wanted to see if it would surprise that your average discount on used books was 57% with SimpleSource.

Kevin Chak:

Wow. That’s pretty good.

Lilli Brooks:

I don’t know if you saw that we recently looked at April 1, 2020 through August 30, 2020 to see what the average customer was saving using SimpleSource. The average savings across all customers was 54%. Your discount was higher than most which is great. If we are talking marketplace discount, the average SimpleSource customer is seeing a discount of 60% when they use the marketplace setting. Your store over the last 18 months has averaged 84%.

Kevin Chak:

Wow. That’s huge. That is almost 25% which is basically the margin for a new book. That’s a pretty good amount.

Lilli Brooks:

Again, that was pretty much the goal in creating SimpleSource. We’re outsourcing books just like everyone else, and we wanted to extend these discounts out to you guys. We wanted to make it easier for you to shop the marketplace in order to increase inventory.

Real quick, let’s go back. I want to talk about time management. You have talked about in the past how SimpleSource has helped with your time management when it comes to ordering. Can you go into a little bit of detail about that for us?

Kevin Chak:

So, in terms of time management, with SimpleSource, I know my wantlist is constantly being reworked, and I have more control over how things are done. If I need to decrease or increase a title because I just got a new book order, I don’t have to pull the results in and send a new wantlist. I can just log into Service Center and work with that title right then and there and cherry pick things without having to go through the whole formal process in Arc.

Lilli Brooks:

Okay, now that we have talked about time management, let’s talk about quality. We like to say that SimpleSource does a great job of supplying you with quality off priced books. Now would you agree with that statement?

Kevin Chak:

Oh definitely. Even with Marketplace, I don’t have to worry about getting instructor editions, international editions, or books that are water damaged and being held together by tape. Any of those problem books are vetted by the warehouse staff, just like how they vet our buybacks or the online buybacks that students use. The warehouse is trained for that and it all comes directly to Columbia. Employees of the warehouse will do it all and I get quality used books without having to chase after individual sellers.

Lilli Brooks:

When you think about quality you also have to think about counterfeit which has hit our industry pretty hard recently. When you are shopping the marketplace, that can be an issue if you are doing it on your own. Which, again, is why we wanted to make it easier for stores to shop the marketplace and not have the fears that are normally associated with it like making sure you’re getting the right book, and not getting damaged or counterfeit books. That can always be a big concern.

Kevin Chak:

Yeah. I don’t do used loose leaf because trying to make sure all the pages are there, none have been three-hole punched and none of the pages are torn is so time consuming. But there are times when I do try to do my own marketplace orders outside of SimpleSource, I forget to read the description and end up ordering loose leaf. I am sure when those kinds of thing come into the warehouse in Missouri, they check the little things I forget to check if I do it myself.

Lilli Brooks:

Right. For those who aren’t familiar with the marketplace piece of SimpleSource, which is completely optional, stores have the ability to designate not just the pricing that they are willing to pay for a book, but also their open to buy that they are willing to shop out on the marketplace. Do you have any idea how much you place out on the marketplace with your open to buy?

Kevin Chak:

I try to run two types of wantlists with SimpleSource. One that is just normal current editions stuff where it is not an old edition or out of print. Just current stuff. I try to use about 25% of my open to buy, so that way I gobble up some of the cheaper books students would buy outside of us. That way the bookstore on campus is the one that has the books. But for the older books, I will work on a second wantlist where it is just older books and I will increase the percentage of open to buy, about 50% or so, and it is just all the old stuff. So, I don’t have to do things separately or manually. It is all managed by MBS.

Lilli Brooks:

Any idea about the time management savings marketplace has made for you?

Kevin Chak:

It definitely saves me time since I am not here at night ten keying on websites searching for things and adding to shopping carts — also, making sure I check whether they are international copies or instructor editions. But not just for my time savings, but also for accounting’s time savings. Because all of that is done with a procurement card. So each individual buyer that we buy from is an individual transaction. So, if I order 50 copies of an old edition and there are 50 different sellers, that is 50 individual receipts that our accounting has to reconcile, chase after and then we receive 50 different packages that we have to match up to ensure we got all 50. We have to figure out who didn’t ship it to us and email them and wait for a response. We don’t have to do that with SimpleSource.

So, it isn’t just the time savings with ordering, accounting is in that bigger picture. If everything just comes to MBS, you guys deal with everything. I just get one run-of-the-mill MBS invoice, all 50 copies in one shot.

Lilli Brooks:

Okay, let’s kind of switch gears and go back to wholesale. When you are seeing these wholesale discounts of 53%, 69%, 73% how important is that to you?

Kevin Chak:

Oh, that’s very important. It allows the bookstore to make more money and it shows that we are stocking used books which will stave students money.

 

With MBS SimpleSource you get a new way to bin and hold, access to more  inventory and simple marketplace sourcing. Learn More

 

Article comments

Subscribe for updates

Share your experience

Contact our editorial team to set up an interview or to contribute a guest post.

Most popular posts