In the old days, a college experience wasn’t complete without several trips to the campus bookstore. It was the “hub” of campus, a trusted resource where students could go to get the best materials and supplies to ensure success in their courses.
As course materials’ costs continue to rise and the traditional textbook is no longer affordable, students have adapted to purchasing or renting their materials online, from retailers like Amazon or Chegg. In other words, the once glorious campus resource is now fighting for students from competitors who have figured out how to make the process cheaper and more efficient.
If you’re working in a campus bookstore, you are feeling the burden of this shift on a daily basis. So what can you do to reinstate yourself as the shining campus resource? Focus on re-attracting students with these five ideas.
- Run “themed” sales. Pay attention to all major and minor holidays, current events, and even sporting events, then create themed sales surrounding them. For example, during the Super Bowl encourage students to come in for a discount on supplies and after purchase, they can add themselves to a “super bowl square” for a chance to win prizes. Keep these ideas consistent and fresh so that your audience will know what to look for and expect.
- Hold monthly “open houses”. Having an open house is a great way to get students in the door and expose them to your merchandise. What’s a great way to get them in? Offer free food and refreshments, or chances to win prizes to increase attraction and get more people to come. They might discover things about the store that they didn’t know prior, like a specific product line or different textbook options.
- Offer unique and affordable textbook options. As we mentioned in the intro, traditional “course-in-a-box” textbook prices are skyrocketing year after year making them hard to afford for students. To stay on the cutting edge of your campus’ pursuit of affordability, offer lower cost but equally efficient course materials. Custom is an awesome way to encourage students to buy from your store and simultaneously reduce cost.
- Develop an internal rental program. Stop losing business to online book renting companies and develop an internal rental program. Research market pricing and try to come up with the most affordable profitable option for your store and students alike.
- Keep them talking. Taking risks is a sure-fire way to capture attention, and isn’t that the ultimate goal of your store? Garner the attention you deserve by taking bold risks and trying new things. Do something different with your marketing! Do something different with your internal processes, offer something different from any other campus bookstores. The more risks you take, the more eyebrows you’ll raise, and the more talk you’ll encourage. Get and keep them talking about and visiting your store with out-of-the-box thinking!
Get back on the minds of your students on your campus by trying innovative ways to attract them!