Implementing an online bookstore to manage all of the course material logistics doesn’t mean it is necessary to get rid of the on-campus store. Campus stores can be a central location where students frequently gather to shop for spirit wear, grab coffee and snacks, and meet up with peers. Mitchell Technical Institute has partnered with us to manage their course materials while they focus on selling tools, spirit wear and other goods to support their programs, scholarships, and more.
It’s safe to say that changes in student purchasing behavior, in course material options, and in technology have disrupted many college bookstores, a once-stable revenue source for textbook sales. Bookstore earnings are down by as much as 35% at colleges and universities and P&L statements show an increasingly common theme: administrators need to find a solution to the issue of declining revenues.
A number of possible options can help. One solution that allows universities to regain the income lost to online competitors like Amazon while also creating new opportunities for profitability and cost savings is the online bookstore model. By transitioning the college bookstore to a centralized online model for adoptions, purchasing, and access, schools can free up valuable physical space, provide a single platform for physical and digital course materials, and get deeper insights into bookstore and course material utilization. With an online bookstore partner, many operational tasks—from inventory ordering to logistics to customer support and even buyback programs—can be delegated, enabling university staff to focus on higher-level strategic goals.
As technology permeates more and more aspects of our lives, colleges and universities continue to implement new programs and tools to help administration, faculty, and students simplify their day. Most schools have software systems for managing everything from admissions to finances to curriculum, but when it comes to the adoption and purchasing of course materials, many institutions still use a manual process through a physical store.
Operating a campus store can be a complex task, especially when it comes to providing textbooks and course materials. From managing adoptions to working with publishers to the logistics of inventory, back orders, and returns, it can be immensely difficult to ensure that every textbook is made available to students in multiple formats, at an affordable price. College students are some of the most price-sensitive shoppers in the world, so it comes as no surprise that textbook revenues at the campus bookstore continue to decline as students shop around. Losing students to other shopping platforms causes wasted time and resources and hurts institutional programs that depend on bookstore revenue. In addition, when students purchase outside the campus bookstore, the school loses important information on student preparedness that can be used as a data point to analyze retention and graduation rates.
If you’ve noticed life as a consumer has changed over the past decade, the transformation can be traced to one word: convenience.
It’s why Amazon has one-click purchasing, Instagram is now shoppable, and retail stores have implemented easy cashier-less checkouts. Consumer expectations have transformed at a rapidly accelerating pace—and university bookstores and their customers are not exempt from this desire for convenience.
Even as shopping becomes more accessible from wherever, whenever, many universities have struggled to keep up with the pace of change: it’s one of the reasons why bookstore sales are down by as much as 35%.
As universities continue to find ways to evolve with their students to ensure student success and retention, the model of an online bookstore managed through a partner is becoming a clear and convenient solution.
With 24/7 availability, expanded selection of inventory, lower costs, and convenient ordering and shipping, online bookstores are allowing universities to focus on meeting faculty and student needs when it comes to course materials and their effectiveness (learn more about the 5 benefits universities see after adopting an online bookstore).
Dozens of variables impact how well a college student learns and retains information, and the most obvious factors are the textbook and course materials the student uses.
But until recently, it's been difficult to make a connection between course material content and student success. Knowing if a student has obtained a textbook, let alone opened it, is something that faculty and administrators have largely been unable to monitor or measure.