There was a time when your store was just your store. You were a brick-and-mortar location right on campus and you were your students' preferred — and often only — source for course content.
Then the internet age rose. Suddenly everyone across the entire world selling the books your students needed were at their fingertips, competing for their business. It wasn't certain doom for stores by any means: you're still the most convenient option, are most likely to have what students need, when they need it, offer unmatched customer service and more.
But regardless of their age or the size of their school, students will still shop online. An eCommerce site is a must if your store wants to remain competitive today. To resist going online is to give up on significant sales.
The good news is it isn't too late to start if your store is behind on implementing an eCommerce solution. In fact, there's never been a better time. Without a web store, there's a lot you're missing out on:
Your sales don't have to end at your front door anymore. In fact, most people are already shopping before they even get that far themselves. A whopping 80% of web-connected users have bought items they needed online, and 71% of shoppers believe they can get better deals through the internet than they can get through a brick-and-mortar store.
This is especially true for college students. According to the Spring 2015 Student Watch™ Attitudes & Behaviors toward Course Materials report, 82% of students researched possible sources to obtain their required course materials before shopping, and most did so online.
By establishing a web site through which you can conduct business, you're opening yourself up to what could very well be the majority of your future business.
Despite Americans spending billions online every year, only 28% of smaller-market or niche retailers are using an eCommerce solution. This means that the overwhelming majority of retailers on the online space are larger big-box businesses. In turn, that means that you're associating with that level of credibility simply by having a functional, professional-looking online store.
Furthermore, it gives customers a place to learn about your store at any time, see what you have to offer and even showcases your business is stable enough to establish an online presence, all of which build authority for your store.
eCommerce makes it even easier to promote your store and your products through sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram. Without an online store, any promotions you share socially lack immediacy: students still need to wait until they can physically come into your store to make a purchase or take advantage of an offer.
With social media, however, you can link directly to the product or offer you want, (or even sell it directly through your social platform.) This in turn will lead to better conversion rates and valuable sales for your web store.
What if you could make rush twice as easy, without sacrificing sales?
With a web store that can handle early registrations or sales before the formal start of the rush season, you can get significant portions of your prep work done early during slower periods of the year, leaving all hands on deck to focus on your in-store rush as it happens.
Web stores provide value for your customers, but they provide direct value beyond increased sales to you as well. You've likely seen the benefit of developing a customer database — it's an effective tool for fostering repeat customers — but it's a time-consuming job that many stores may let fall to the wayside in favor of more pressing duties.
eCommerce stores can collect information like email addresses and purchase history automatically, however, so you can easily create better, more targeted marketing and promotions for your customers in the future. It saves you time and builds repeat shoppers out of your customers.