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.
The basic concepts taught in Physics 101 or Intro to English Lit might have gone largely unchanged for several years, but make no mistake: there are massive changes occurring within the textbook and course materials landscape.
With new expectations from students, faculty, and administrators, paired with advances in technology, course materials have transformed, disrupting the status quo. When it comes to how students obtain and interact with their course materials and how faculty and administrators adopt and distribute this content, the university bookstore is at the forefront of this disruption.
With more universities transitioning to or adding a managed online bookstore to their course material strategy, many educators want to understand what’s driving this change and what this means for their university and student success.
Here are 5 key benefits that show how managed online bookstores are an opportunity, not a challenge, for university revenue, student success, and faculty satisfaction.
At the start of every term, college students are faced with the challenge of buying their textbooks and course materials, hopefully prior to the first day of class and without emptying their wallets. Unfortunately, many students will forgo buying their materials because of the high cost and uncertainty they will actually be used. Faculty and administration alike understand how important it is for students to be prepared with all materials on or before the first day of class and are making strides to assure barriers to purchase are removed.
Textbook prices are on the rise and students realize that not obtaining the required course materials will affect their academic performance. There are many financial burdens students face while in college and they sometimes have to choose between purchasing textbooks or paying for food, rent, or other everyday necessities. While many colleges are working to utilize more OER (Open Educational Resources) as course material, the availability is limited for more advanced level courses. Lower cost alternatives are being provided more and more from publishers, but most of the time students don't utilize the same publishers across their various classes and students end up sharing textbooks, making copies of chapters, or just not acquiring the materials at all.