Our sales, marketing and customer success team members returned from the campus store industry’s biggest trade shows last week with insights on industry trends, themes and challenges.
Here are a few of their takeaways:
On retail experiences…
- Most buzzworthy phrases heard: experience economy, experiential retail, customer engagement
- We’re in an experience economy. Customers are looking for experiences over products and services, and they’re more knowledgeable and have higher expectations for customer service. This requires shifting your mindset to a shopping experience from a buying experience. Consider experiences-per-square-foot as a key performance indicator, not just sales per-square-foot.
- Customers want a human touch and crave personal attention. Americans appreciate shopping locally, so make the environment feel comfortable and personal.
- Customer service is one of a store’s main differentiators. Brick and mortar stores aren’t dead, but it’s important to understand customers’ voices and wow them through service.
- Read more on this topic: 81 percent of Gen Z’ers prefer to shop in-store and 73 percent enjoy discovering new products in stores by browsing racks and shelves.
On changes in course materials…
- Most buzzworthy phrases heard: inclusive access, digital delivery, declining course materials revenue
- With the decline in course materials revenue, collegiate retailers are looking for ways to optimize their floor space more effectively using product placement and merchandising.
- Stores are shifting their attention to bottom-line profitability as their top line decreases due to a decline in course materials sales. Similarly, they’re focusing on selling higher-margin general merchandise to offset the lower-margin digital and inclusive access materials.
- Stores are also focused on how to remain at the center of procuring course materials as courses move to inclusive access and other digital options.
- Managing and scaling inclusive access remains challenging for stores with limited resources, as does balancing their quantity to provide for traditional textbook sales where digital and physical options are available.
- Another challenge stores are facing is the difficulty in managing publisher-only rentals due to reporting requirements and high rental-not-returned fees.
- Store right-sizing will continue to trend as the industry aligns with new course material delivery options, including digital and inclusive access materials.
- Campuses are exploring equitable access and one-fee models.
- Everyone will be closely monitoring the launch of UC Davis’s equitable access program, which could help determine a new direction for course material delivery.
On technology and eCommerce…
- Most buzzworthy phrases: systems for the future, rise of eCommerce
- Top-notch eCommerce and technology is needed to succeed in selling more general merchandise.
- Systems need to be able to take stores into the future by helping them meet new customer demands and expectations.
- Read more on this topic: Marketers are leveraging digital marketing and social media to drive traffic in-store.