Finding ways to save time and automate your workload is important, especially during the busiest times of the year. Even though many students are back on campus, fast online order fulfillment, multiple distribution options and managing the flow of in-store traffic is still essential to college store operations. Today, we will look at three ways that you can streamline fulfillment processes.
3 tips to streamline order fulfillment processes
- Plan Ahead
Assess your store’s traffic patterns. How are students shopping? How many classes are being served by inclusive access or similar programs? You can use your unique patterns to create efficiency in your order fulfillment methods.
For example, the WCU Bookstore has had a tremendous amount of success and is serving students faster than ever by adjusting how students pick up their orders.
“Our store capacity is capped at 53 people. Going into the spring semester, we needed to be able to serve more students faster, so we broke up how students picked up their materials to make it possible to serve more people at the same time. It really helped cut wait times down because we could get more people in the store,” Jennifer Thomas, Director of Bookstore Operations, WCU Bookstore “How we did it was we split up commuter students and residential students. There were 3,961 students living on campus in the Spring 2021 term. With those students, we already have their student ID numbers and names. So, we printed their rental card (which they could electronically sign or sign in person if they were here) and then we pulled their books, packed them in a box and stuck a label on the edge of the box — we had the print shop print a label for each of those students. When they came to pick up their books, they were directed downstairs to the basement, which has its own entrance and exit.
“For students not living on campus, they came into the store using the front entrance because we had to go through that process with them: print the rental card, get the signature, pull the books and box them. It worked really well splitting the two groups and cut the wait time down by a lot. We are going to keep doing that. Boxing books ahead of time was a huge timesaver,” Thomas said.
Read more about how WCU Bookstore streamlined order distribution.
- Get the tools to simplify your workload
Equipment like handheld devices and mobile order fulfillment tools can add a lot of efficiency and accuracy to how your associates process web orders. By streamlining this process, your staff can accomplish more in less time and improve accuracy.
MBS Store Technology Solutions partners have expertly managed increased web orders with MBS’ mobile order fulfillment tool and a handheld device like the MeMor™. With this tool, stores can easily create picking batches, scan and automatically validate each item picked, and streamline and finalize package pickup or order shipments.
The Shocker Store at Wichita State University used our mobile order fulfillment tool to help manage their dramatic increase in web orders.
“Our online in-store order pickup always drives a ton of our back-to-school rush traffic. It has increased dramatically over the last five to seven years. We were jam-packed with web order pick-up areas because of the sheer volume of web orders we were getting on a daily basis,” Andi Stipp, Shocker Stores Director, Wichita State University “We use MBS inSite and are always making little tweaks to what we do to improve efficiency. We heavily rely on the mobile order processing tool to scan our books to ensure we are giving customers the right books and there are fewer issues on the back end. The pickup utility has been phenomenal for us in terms of quick, accurate answers for customers. So, if a student comes in and says they didn’t get a book or didn’t pick up their box, we can pull it up easily on inSite without having to go through all the signed slips.”
Read more about streamlining online order fulfillment.
- Select the distribution methods that will best serve your customers
Necessity in 2020 brought an increase in distribution methods for customers. From curbside pick up to home and dorm delivery, college stores went outside the norm to better serve students. Now that many students are back on campus, it’s a good time to evaluate what distribution methods will continue to best serve your store and your campus community.
With limited resources and staff shortages, it might not be feasible to offer every solution at all times. It is good to assess your current needs and resources and look for ways to still offer students service that goes above and beyond but doesn’t overtax your staff.
Investing in a collegiate retail system, such as the MBS college store system, that offers innovative flexibility and allows you to easily serve students in a convenient and timely manner can make a huge difference.
“Some of the best features of the MBS inSite system we used this year we're 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 pick up at a regional center,” Lincoln Land Community College’s Director of Campus Services Andrew Blaylock “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.”
Learn more about how course material distribution is changing.