In the year since Ouachita Baptist University transitioned to an online bookstore for their course materials, Store Director Beverly Dickerson says their campus location has had increased revenue and anticipates more growth to come.
The store was previously leased, and while the relationship with the provider was positive, the Ouachita students and families wanted more options when it came to choosing their course materials.
“Our customers were telling us they wanted to be able to choose for themselves, and they were showing us this by purchasing elsewhere,” Dickerson said.
Because the physical space of the store was limited, outsourcing their textbooks with MBS Direct provided more options for students, and freed the staff to expand the retail operation and bring in new product lines.
“With a fixed textbook department with counter service, you have a great deal of floor space that is occupied, but only used a fraction of the time,” Dickerson said. “Retail is where we actually make money as a store and now, with twice as much available space, we can carry a wider selection of merchandise.”
The store now offers a full range of apparel and supplies, including imprinted gifts, school supplies, health and beauty items as well as OBU merchandise.
“We’re more profitable than ever,” Dickerson said. “Our alumni even brag about how great the store looks now that we’ve remodeled, but we haven’t spent a penny on renovations. We just moved stuff around after removing the textbook department.”
An on-site buyback provides increased convenience and additional opportunities for revenue
"When we still had textbooks, we were guaranteed to have long lines of students waiting to check out at the beginning of each semester — and invariably, they would shop as they waited," Dickerson said. "We've had to come up with new ways to get customers in the door. One way we accomplish this is with our buyback event."
Students can sell their books online throughout the school year. Once the end of the term approaches, however, the store offers an exclusively in-store buyback with special sales, giveaways and a chance for students to win $100 off their textbook purchases for the following term.
"We also have kiosks set up year-round where we can help students order or make returns," she said. "We want the entire process to be as easy as possible for them and we want them to know that we're a resource for them.
"Another way we get students in the store is by encouraging them to use the bulk shipping method to our campus location,” she said. “They see significant savings, especially if they order during the state’s tax-free weekend in August, and it also allows us to still have the maximum amount of store traffic and customer interaction.”