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The Three Things Every Store Director Should Be Doing Right Now

Independent college stores continue to face dramatic transitions in course materials format and delivery and increased pressure from lease contractors and online marketplaces. Store directors need to be vigilant in maintaining a leadership position in key aspects of their retail operation. At minimum, every store director should focus on achieving three goals this year to help improve effectiveness and meet student and faculty needs.

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Know your numbers

Know your sales, turns and gross margins, and report them to administrators on a regular basis.

  • Track key retail performance metrics on a monthly basis.
  • Benchmark your performance against industry standards to determine where adjustments to your operation may be needed. Participation in OnCampus Research’s Financial Survey is a great way to compile your financial figures and compare them with same-size stores for a meaningful evaluation of your store’s performance.
  • Communicate your financial performance, special programs, and services to your administrators.

Be a leader in the campaign to offer your students lower-cost course materials

Advocate for student success and embrace emerging technologies, sources, formats, and delivery alternatives that will improve student access and achievement.

  • Initiate or become involved in discussions about digital course materials and ensure that the bookstore is actively involved in the delivery of digital materials on campus.
  • Educate yourself about open educational resources (OER) and the role the bookstore can play in disseminating OER to students.
  • Develop relationships with faculty to encourage them to adopt lower-cost materials, including digital materials and OER, and make timely adoptions that can help lower prices.

Understand the needs and wants of your students and communicate with them regularly

In addition to course materials, the campus store can and should be a hub of activity, a reflection of the institution’s brand, and meet students’ needs in terms of spirit gear, supplies, sundries, food, and beverages.

  • Survey your students to find out where they shop, what they shop for, and whether the bookstore is a viable source for their needs. IndiCo provides research on student behaviors and shopping habits through our Student Panel surveys.
  • Engage with students on social media where, according to our Student Panel, students spend an average of 3.4 hours a day. Students like to see coupons or promotions from their campus store (82%), contests, and information about upcoming store and campus events.
  • Hold promotions and flash sales, participate in campus activities, and create marketing messages that bring students to the store at times other than rush.
  • Experiment with trendy merchandise and colors, expand your technology assortment, and follow the latest retail trends to bring in merchandise with high appeal and sell-through.

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