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Utilizing Promotions and Focusing on Your Shoppers

Posted by Liz Schulte on 5/24/21 6:00 AM
Topics: bookstore events, college store marketing, college store ecommerce

College store marketing is a must. Finding the best marketing techniques to drive online and in-store sales requires the right system tools and insight into your customers’ buying habits. At the MBS Spring Forums System Training Event, Manager of Customer Education Wayne Jones was joined by Megan Moser, Merchandise Manager, Business & Operations, University of Pittsburgh, to discuss how the MBS system helps college stores create promotional events that inspire shoppers year-round.

Utilizing Promotions and Focusing on Your Shoppers

Designing your store's marketing techniques to appeal to diverse audiences can lead to increased sales and stronger campus relationships. A college store might decide to run a promotion to:

  • Bring attention to slow-moving merchandise
  • Highlight clearance items
  • Increase store loyalty
  • Drive online sales

MBS Store Technology Solutions gives customers the tools necessary to manage promotions and get to know their customers’ shopping habits. Stores may choose to offer customers a dollar-off, percent-off, quantity of deal (i.e. buy three bags of chips for $3), spend get (i.e. Get $5 off a $20 purchase) and buy get (i.e. Buy two, get one free). We know from our own experience that most customers want a good deal.

According to research by Hawk Incentives,

  • 97% of shoppers are looking for deals when shopping
  • 92% are always looking for deals
  • 40% feel smart when they can find the best deal

However, did you know that there is science behind when you should choose different promotions? During the event, Jones went over some discount strategies. First, he spoke about the Left Digit Effect. This pricing strategy is simple. Customers are more influenced by the number on the left than the right. So, items priced at whole dollar amounts are viewed less favorably than their .99 counterparts (i.e. $20 vs $19.99).

Next, he spoke about the Rule of 100. This theory was set forth by marketing professor, Jonah Berger. This strategy takes into account customers’ perceptions of numbers and how they relate to discounts. For example, does $50 off a $200 purchase sound like a better deal than 25% off a $200 purchase? For many customers, yes. That’s where the Rule of 100 comes in. If the purchase amount is less than $100, use a percentage off (i.e. 25% off a $15 purchase). If the purchase amount is more than $100, use the dollar amount.

Jones also discussed showing the original price, the discount, and the new price on electronic shelf tags, limited time promotions like flash sales or holiday sales, and using terminology like “Up to 50% off.”

All of these strategies can easily be implemented with the MBS system tools. With the MBS system, merchandise promos can be set up to provide the type of savings you choose for your audience. Here are a few ways stores can streamline promotions through the system:

  • Sales can apply automatically to items on inSite and items scanned at the register (No promo code, no manual cashier markdown required)
  • Sales can run for a date range or specific time of day
  • Sales can run in-store, online or both places
  • Sales can be made available to select groups like loyalty customers
  • Online items can be marked with a sale badge

MBS system user, Megan Moser, Merchandise Manager Business & Operations, University of Pittsburgh, joined Jones to talk about how eCommerce opportunities and promotions are handled in the four independently owned and operated stores at the University of Pittsburgh.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, University of Pittsburgh stores used this opportunity to expand its eCommerce merchandise assortment. They used promotions to help move aged goods (merchandise with old logos and colors), find the right price for clearance merchandise, evaluate inventory levels, and drive customer engagement online.

As part of its promotion strategy, they tested different flash sale strategies through November, December and January. The store found the most popular brands and categories performed the best during flash sales — unless slow-selling items had dramatic savings (75% off or more). The store also found three-day flash sales in November and December were more effective than a five-day flash sale in January. Each flash sale was marketed through social media, an email blast and a website banner.

The store utilized a Dashboard report and Google Analytics to review promotion results. The report in Dashboard could be pulled by store or date range and showed all promotional codes entered online or at the register.

Moser went on to share the store’s Black Friday sale, Cyber Monday sale and a free social promotion that increase the store’s Instagram followers by 1,000.

Check out the webinar, to learn more about increasing online and in-store sales success.


Increase web sales and streamline order fulfillment with MBS' eCommerce  platform. Learn more  


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