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What to Consider When Evaluating a New Collegiate Retail System

Posted by Liz Schulte on 6/26/23 7:15 AM
Topics: collegiate retail, college store management system, college bookstore system

Your store’s collegiate retail system is part of nearly everything you do in the store. It has the power to improve store processes or offer store associates the tools they need to provide truly outstanding customer service. When the time comes to replace your collegiate retail system, what are the most important metrics to look at to ensure you get the best system for your store.What to Consider When Evaluating a New Collegiate Retail System

Important questions when evaluating a new collegiate retail system

We sat down with MBS system sales consultants Heather Gillespie and Jeremy Hawkins to find out what they suggest stores look at when evaluating a new system. Below are some of the key points they recommended.

What are the most critical needs of my store?

Picking a solution that meets the store’s individual needs is critical. It’s very important to find a solution that meets the needs of your store, campus, and student and shopper expectations. Because the college store system is so widely used in nearly all of your daily processes, it is essential that a new system can meet your store’s current needs, add efficiency and even help expand your long-term goals for the store. Additional questions you might want to note are: what works well in your current system and what do you wish the system did better? Also, there could be efficiencies and features that you might not know are available that would benefit your store. Be sure to share your store’s pain points as well as current processes to learn how they could be addressed or improved.

What is my budget?

Establish a budget for the store system going into these conversations. Knowing your budget will help you truly understand what is being offered. Some systems providers charge extra for various components, so the total cost of owning the system can be more than you expected. Understanding the true cost of owning a system that does everything you need it to do is important. Is training included? How about reporting? Does the system come with a POS? What kind of eCommerce services are provided and what will the store have to pay extra for? What is included in the annual support fee and what will be charged outside of that that the store will need to additionally budget for?

What support services are available?

When look at a new system, the hardware and software is important, but so is the amount of support you are offered. Consider how all of your employees will learn a new system and seasonal tasks. It is important that your store has the support it needs to run efficiently. Also, look at the areas where you might need the most support. Most stores do not have dedicated staff for managing and updating an eCommerce site. Make sure your new system provider can assist you with keeping your eCommerce site updated and relevant at no additional cost.

Also, a new retail management system goes beyond the bookstore. You will also need to know what systems your campus uses for merchant services, LMS, registration, finance, etc. Have that information handy during your initial conversations and make sure a new provider offers a guided implementation process with a specialist who will work with you every step of the way to ensure every part of your system works as it should.

Are course materials still important to your campus?

It does not matter if your campus is predominantly digital, inclusive access/equitable access, or a mixture of all the options, including print, rental and digital variations. What matters is if students still have a need for books on your campus. Books, in every format, are unique in how they are sold and bought back. Any solution you consider needs to have a proven track record in this retail space.

What tenders can be accepted?

Viable solutions should accept all types of tenders, including Student Financial Aid, NFC, Campus Debit, Gift Card, Chip and PIN and EMV. In today’s market, offering these options is an absolute must. By offering all of these payment types your store is a step above online competition that cannot offer this variety of payments.

Can the solution interface with the campus system to automate functionality with AP and AR, student accounts, the registrar office?

Eliminating manual processes in these areas can have a huge impact on the store’s day-to-day workload and customer experience. Many stores are still operating with decreased staff. System interfaces help save time, streamline daily processes and improve customer experiences.

Additional resources

Foreword has many additional resources you can use to prepare for upgrading your system. Check out the links below.

How Can Your College Store Management System Improve Customer Experience?

Hibbing Community College Bookstore and the MBS System Evolve Together

Top Five Considerations When Looking for a Collegiate Retail System

Is It Time for a New POS System?

A Complete Collegiate Retail System for the Best Value

LCC Bookstore Affordably Improves Its System's Functionality

Spotlight: How to Streamline Implementation of a New Retail System

3 Reasons to Budget for Collegiate Retail System Improvements in the Coming Year

If you would like to learn more about the MBS system, please contact your MBS system sales consultant.


Find out how MBS can help you reduce overhead, save students money and  streamline operations with a tailored retail management system. Learn More


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