University Business April 2018 - 28
"Once students are in the bookstore
and they notice all of the new apparel and
merchandise, they are really excited about
it," says Monika Samuelsson, director of retail partnerships and marketing at Lehigh
University in Pennsylvania, which has a
Barnes & Noble College-run operation
(located at the bottom of the mountain on
which Lehigh is built). "The hard part is
getting them down here."
Store staff recently launched a weekly
T-shirt giveaway and a photoshoot of students modeling the store's apparel. Photos
were posted on Instagram, along with a 25
percent coupon for one apparel item.
Finals week is an opportune time for
stress-reduction activities, such as decorating dorm door hangers or munching on
free snacks in the store café.
During finals at the University Book
Store at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, staff members bring in their canines
for students to play with. "If students are
coming in for Dog Day, they're more likely
to take a look around the store," says Kayla
Myhre, a store marketing intern.
Another increasingly popular marketing strategy-the loyalty rewards program-comes from retail operations outside of higher ed. This past November,
the Georgia Southern University Store
launched its U Count Rewards Program,
which reimburses students $2 for every
$100 spent in the store.
Within three months, nearly 6,300
customers had signed up for the program-almost one quarter of the student population-and redeemed points
equivalent to $1,337 in merchandise,
says Carlita Slatky, director of retail services at the university store. "We may not
be able to compete with Amazon in any
shape or form, but we can do this for our
students. It's a tangible asset for them."
Targeting a wider customer base
Converting sports fans from off campus-another prime source of revenue-
28 | April 2018
CANINE CALMERS-Stressed students
can visit the University Book Store at
the University of Wisconsin-Madison
during finals week for some puppy love
on Dog Day-and they may well leave
having made a store purchase.
into regular, loyal buyers of branded team
merchandise and apparel is a goal for
many campus stores.
The Wichita State University Bookstore targeted alumni and local fans of
its NCAA Division I teams by running
TV ads for its 2017 holiday sale. "Wichita State has a huge following in Kansas,
Oklahoma and wherever our alumni are,"
says Andi Stipp, store director.
This spring, through partnerships
with local businesses, the store will take
its merchandise on the road-in a transit van decorated with the school logo.
One idea is to have the mobile store park
at a local bank for a four-hour period
in the middle of the day and offer bank
customers a 10 percent discount on any
purchases on apparel.
Just two hours south, the University
Store at Oklahoma State University focuses its marketing efforts on e-commerce. The store is leveraging big data
and its social media channels to drive
customers to its online store.
"Not everyone in the world is looking
for OSU paraphernalia, but when they
do, we want it to be through us," says
E. Mitchell Kilcrease, assistant vice president and director of the Oklahoma State
University Student Union. "We own
that market. Our growth potential is in
The university is joining with vari-
ous units on campus, including the
alumni association, so that the store-
rather than an outside vendor-remains
the No. 1 seller of team merchandise,
One way to achieve that goal, he explains, is to partner with athletics and set
up kiosks at football games, positioning
the store as the university's official clothing vendor.
"It's the same notion of buying local," Kilcrease says, referring to the hope
that fans and alumni will patronize the
campus store rather than another retailer
for such merchandise. "When you spend
your dollars with us, those dollars benefit
our students," he adds.
Using social media
to target customers
Leveraging social media to advertise promotions is essential to engaging customers, says Walton of NACS.
Many college stores have even integrated social media into their promotional events on campus.
Students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, for example, access clues for the annual scavenger hunt
on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that
lead them to a prize book bag.
In a contest, students who predict the
correct score of the Super Bowl on the
store's social media platforms each year
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