Students are spending less money at your average campus bookstore than they used to. According to the National Association of College Stores survey, students spent an average of $579 on 10 required course materials during the 2016-2017 school year, down from $602 spent in 2015-2106. Many students buy their books through online retailers or rent textbooks instead of purchasing at the local store. Because of these shifts, many campus stores are sold to corporations to reduce schools’ operating costs.
Colleges choosing to keep their stores independent must make an extra effort to stay profitable. Here are six ways to keep campus bookstores open:
1. Show price comparisons
Students often assume the campus store charges higher prices than online or elsewhere. Swarthmore College includes a price comparison tool on its website, which lets students see how the bookstore’s new and used prices for each textbook compare with retailers such as Amazon, AbeBooks, and Half.com. While students may buy some books from other retailers when they’re cheaper, the tool will likely increase sales when the price is competitive.
2. Make books & products easy to find
If students are unable to find what they need, they are likely to leave the store without purchasing anything. Clutter and piles of books often make a bookstore confusing, and items hard to find. Using a PODS container for school storage can help organize overstocked products and other items. This declutters the campus bookstore and makes it easier for students to find what they need.
3. Add unique offerings at your campus bookstore
Campus bookstores are increasing revenue by adding high-demand products and services for students. Some college bookstores are now offering suit rentals for interviews, while others provide low-cost engraving on specialty items. By thinking about the individual needs of their student population, these out-of-the-box products and services can increase revenue.
4. Focus on personalized service
Besides convenience, the biggest advantage of a campus bookstore is the relationship between store staff and faculty. Booksellers can provide insights that Amazon or off-campus retailers cannot. For example, the campus bookstore may know that a study guide booklet is not needed until mid-semester, even though the resource is listed on the required materials list. Staff can use this knowledge to help a budget-conscious student stagger their purchases and reduce the financial burden at the beginning of the semester.
5. Keep more inventory on hand
If books or other items are out-of-stock, students must go elsewhere to purchase them. When that happens, students might not return to the store next semester. With a PODS container, however, the campus retailer can store additional items nearby and quickly restock shelves. The revenue from additional sales can easily pay for the storage unit many times over.
Be ready for the back-to-school rush with portable containers from PODS for your school. Shipping containers can be used to store overspill inventory or create a more comfortable shopping space for your customers. Bookstore staff will appreciate the flexible scheduling and delivery that PODS offers.
6. Reduce required campus bookstore staff
Every staff hour costs money. During the back-to-school rush, staff spend a lot of time unloading and loading goods, as well as transporting them. Using a PODS container for overflow stock makes restocking shelves quick and easy, giving schools the option to reduce hours or have staff spend more time on providing great customer service.
Colleges with independent stores for books and related supplies keep more of their revenue and have greater control over the merchandise they carry. By focusing on profitability and partnering with PODS, your college can have a highly profitable campus bookstore.