Western Carolina University Bookstore found a stadium solution in the MBS Microsoft® Mobile Surface Pro POS system. With the Surface Pro, the MBS system becomes a fully portable point of service. This allows the WCU campus store to stock a wider variety of merchandise at its stadium shops, and it streamlines inventory planning. Even better, it lets associates provide a more customer-focused experience for the diverse community of Catamount fans who throng the stadium on game days — including campus VIPs.
WCU Bookstore’s critical game-day needs
Because football is king in Cullowhee, North Carolina, the home of Western Carolina University, WCU Bookstore makes superb service at its football stadium store a top priority. Ever since the store acquired two Microsoft Mobile Surface Pros — one for each satellite and one for a tailgating satellite— it’s been able to drive revenues while enhancing the fan experience, according to WCU Bookstore self-support associate and stadium manager, Kati Smith.
“Football is the main driving force in this part of North Carolina,” said Smith. “It’s everything here.”
NCAA Division I football is an obsession for fans throughout western North Carolina, she said. On game days, people flock from miles around to the WCU campus, which is nestled in the Appalachians. The 13,000-plus seat E.J. Whitmire football stadium frequently sells out.
Fans visit the bookstore satellites looking to purchase everything a Catamount fan could want or need: t-shirts, giant foam hands, ponchos and essentials like water bottles, hats, and gloves.
“We try to make the stadium store a one-stop shop for everyone,” said Smith.
Streamlined preparation and increased sales
With the Surface Pro, the WCU bookstore has been able to increase game-day revenues. The hardware transforms the entire MBS POS into a complete retail suite on-the-go. Associates can access everything from inventory to customer payment information right at the stadium.
Before the Surface Pro, WCU processed its stadium business manually. That meant Smith dedicated long hours to selecting and sorting the merchandise they hoped to sell before each event. It was difficult to gauge what fans might need in advance. If it rained, for instance, the satellite would need more ponchos and umbrellas on hand. But if it didn’t, the overstock could take up space that might have been given to selling more t-shirts or water bottles.
“Set-up used to take so much time,” said Smith. “Days!”
With the Surface Pro, the preparation process is so streamlined that Smith can focus on ensuring Catamount fans find what they need. She can easily review sales from previous game-days and stock items that proved popular in the past. If giant foam hands sold out during one game, for example, she can order more for the next.
In addition, Smith can make last-minute adjustments for crowd turnout and unexpected weather changes. Now, if game-day brings a surprise rain storm, Smith can ensure the satellites have a plentiful supply of Catamount ponchos and umbrellas on-hand.
A mobile retail suite enhances customer experience
Without the mobile Surface Pro, tracking sales and inventory consumed far more of Smith’s attention during the games, too. She couldn’t focus as much on customers’ immediate needs.
“I used to have to be much more register-focused, because of the set-up,” said Smith. “Now I can focus on customers.”
A diverse cohort of university stakeholders turns up to tailgate and cheer on game days: students, administrators, faculty, alumni, community members and high-profile donors.
“It’s very important for us to provide excellent service,” said Smith. “Game days are when our bookstore has the most interaction with the community. It’s also when we’re most likely to interact with high-profile customers like donors,” said Smith.
Shorter wait-times and happier fans
Smith said that lines at the stadium satellite were sometimes overwhelming before the Surface Pro. Now, fans buy what they want faster — and utilize a wider variety of payment methods. With the entire POS at her disposal, Smith can accept any form of tender: credit cards, SFA and student IDs.
The Surface Pro is outfitted with the latest security, too. Regardless of the tender used, customer financial information remains as safe at the satellites as it is at the main store.
With shorter lines and greater selection, everyday fans and big shots alike enjoy a frictionless stadium shopping experience. This, in turn, boosts sales and customer satisfaction.
“Now the only place with a long line is the concession stand,” said Smith.
That’s something that can give Catamount fans even more reason to cheer.