What is a “collaborative” anyway?

  • A collaborative is a community of people or organizations working together to achieve a shared goal or benefit. Collaboratives leverage the strengths of the group while retaining the flexibility to accommodate the needs of individual participants.
  • While not direct owners, participants share both risks and rewards. They can receive a share of the savings or group profits generated through purchasing negotiations, economies of scale in sourcing products and services, and operational efficiencies.
  • Other benefits include alignment with leading practices and exposure to innovative approaches and transformative solutions that often elude stand-alone organizations.

What is the indiCo Independent Campus Stores Collaborative?

  • The indiCo collaborative is an alternative to corporate leasing that supports self-operation of your campus store and provides you with the lowest-cost course materials and merchandise. indiCo partners with the existing store management, as either a full service or custom service option, to keep the store independent.
  • The collaborative offers the strength of purchasing course materials (CM) and general merchandise (GM) as a group, like leasing, but keeps the management local and the culture of the store from becoming the look and feel of the corporate leasing company.

How is indiCo different from a corporate lease operator?

  • You take the lead. We don’t solicit store change proposals.
  • We don’t believe in “lock-ups” or preferred status supplier relationships. We support and source from an open, competitive marketplace.
  • Each store has unique staffing needs. We don’t use cookie-cutter staffing plans based on size categories.
  • We work to keep money in higher education and on campus, not take it out. Our collaborative model is based on lowering costs and risks for the institution, not achieving corporate profits for shareholders.
  • We return store net gains or profits as dividends to institutions for the benefit of higher ed and student success. We retain only what is needed to cover operational costs and reinvest in services for the collaborative.
  • At the end of each year, we share all store financials, including a “revenue walk” of store performance by sales category, analysis of margins and fees, and a calculation of the store’s contribution to the institution.
  • We support many options in merchandise, technology, and textbook solutions. We work with you to determine the best solution for your specific needs from a range of validated options.
  • Your store will reflect your campus, demographics, and geography. We don’t impose a corporate store model or limit the merchandise you can carry.
  • Store managers and senior administrators are part of an advisory council that ensures participants in the collaborative have a voice and representation.

What are my options? What if I just need help in one area such as course materials?

  • You have two options:
    • A Full Service Store that covers all critical store operational components:
      • Retail technology
      • Financial performance
      • Course materials management and sourcing
      • Inventory management
      • Store design and renovation
    • A Custom Store that lets you select just the services you need on an à la carte basis.

My store is independent. What can indiCo do for me?

  • We can help you address the pain points that could become a trigger for exploring lease, including: dwindling course material sales, outdated technology, decline in financial contribution, need for a remodel or refresh of the store space, staff turnover or vacancies in key roles, and more.
  • You can participate in, for example, shared access to new technology for POS, course materials adoption and sourcing, and GM management; training options for staff and student workers; and group buying programs to increase margins and turns.

How will you make course materials less expensive?

  • You can opt to use our course materials management technology without committing to a book-sourcing agreement that limits your ability to control pricing and affordability.
  • Comparative sourcing and price negotiation across online marketplaces deliver the lowest costs available on faculty adoptions.
  • Adoption tools let faculty compare editions, format options, and costs before making their course materials decisions.
  • A price comparison tool shows the store’s price against online options in one easy place for students.

How much do indiCo’s services cost?

  • On average our costs are substantially less than corporate leasing.
  • We offer a range of customizable services, each with a different cost based on the services included, and the size and sales volume of the store.

What do you mean by financial transparency?

  • Our Full Service Store includes a shared revenue (or rebate) structure. Your institution benefits from a clearly stated combination of guaranteed and performance-based financial contributions. Our formula uses the gross, top-line revenue number versus the lease operator standard of delivering a percentage of revenue after subtracting non-commissionable revenue.
  • We’ll co-develop a cost/profit share with your institution, and share all financial information. After fees and reserves are established, if the collaborative results in a profit, dividends are made to each participating institution based upon their fiscal share of the collaborative’s financial year-end results.
  • Management dashboards provide visibility into adoption rates, financial status, affordability measurements, and industry comparisons. Students and faculty enjoy easy access to pricing, content, and format options.
  • We’ll meet with you for quarterly, face-to-face business reviews to assess your store’s financial performance and other key performance indicators.

How will current employees at my store be affected if I use indiCo’s services?

  • We don’t classify stores into size categories and standard staffing plans.
  • We start by assessing the needs of your store and your existing team to define a strategy and sound business plan.
  • We also look at historical customer traffic patterns, functional requirements, and relevant customer insights and trends to make staffing recommendations for your store.
  • Our approach is not to fire everyone who works in your store and replace them with corporately trained clerks

Do stores have to be a member of NACS to use indiCo services?

  • No.  NACS membership is encouraged, but not a requirement.
  • NACS members benefit from invaluable industry insights, government relations, publications, and educational opportunities that only a trade association can provide.

Can a leased store use indiCo’s services?

  • No, but we can help you transition from a lease management operation.
  • We can organize and plan a conversion from a corporate lease model to an institutionally operated independent store with our turn-key suite of services, programs, and support.