By Mark Palmore, Managing Director, Campus Advisory Services and Denise Walsh, Strategic Campus Advisor, Campus Advisory Services

In today’s retail environment, there are many ways for students to obtain course materials and other products and services – online retailers, big-box retailers and local independent retailers, like a campus store. Each business operation comes with benefits and challenges, but local collegiate retailers have the rewarding opportunity to create a unique shopping experience that aligns with a campus’s mission and values, while also supporting the community.

Power of Local

As a part of the campus community, local collegiate retailers have the opportunity to represent an institution’s one-of-a-kind campus culture. With this opportunity, stores can create a meaningful retail experience for students, faculty and staff alike.

The power of being local also gives campus stores the opportunity to:

  • Source locally and have flexibility to accommodate a campus’s unique demands
  • Curate products and services that serve their student population’s needs
  • Offer personal touches that keep customers coming back

Authentic Student Experience

Creating an authentic retail experience is a challenge for big-box and online retailers, but independent campus stores can more easily craft a customized shopping experience.

Collegiate retailers have the flexibility to:

  • Accommodate a niche audience with merchandise that strengthens school pride
  • Ensure the retail value proposition aligns with the campus’s mission and values
  • Create a student-friendly shopping experience with customer service offerings that enhance the student experience

Efficiency Across Campus

One of a local collegiate retailer’s greatest strengths is the ability to create campus-wide efficiencies. An on-campus location makes building key relationships with faculty and leadership easier and gives store managers more control in business operations.

Additional campus-wide efficiencies include the abilities to:

  • Maintain brand integrity with marketing and licensing stakeholders
  • Rapidly implement innovative ideas without needing corporate approvals
  • Build stronger partnerships with vendors, suppliers and publishers
  • Ensure the store’s retail proposition aligns with the campus’s mission and vision
  • Participate in technology system decisions and integrations, optimizing service across campus

Course Material Expertise

Not long ago, students had little choice about where they sourced textbooks and course materials. Today, though, there are seemingly limitless options. Campus stores have a great advantage over online retailers in that they’re accessible and can leverage face-to-face interactions.

Championing the course material expertise on campus allows collegiate retailers to:

  • Serve and support the institution’s academic mission
  • Better serve all campus stakeholders – students, staff, faculty and leadership
  • Build trust and become a partner and valuable resource for course material sourcing and purchasing
  • Own all course materials transactions, alleviating the potential burden for the bursar’s office
  • Collaborate with campus leadership and faculty to deliver course materials to students in the most affordable and convenient way

We’ll be sharing more about how campus stores can leverage the power of being local next month. Watch for our email mid-October to read the article, or connect with us beforehand to learn more about Campus Advisory Service’s offerings. Mark and Denise have a combined 65 years of experience in campus retail, auxiliary services and general merchandising and can provide strategic insight, tactical recommendations and operational expertise.

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