Andre: At USD, we wanted one platform and one dashboard to create a holistic approach to our business. Internal technical and IT support teams are shrinking and systems are moving to the cloud, which caused us to have a leaner approach.
Q: What are the advantages to a campus-wide retail solution?
Andre: Every staff member is trained to use the same system and is able to work in any location across the campus. We have one reporting platform to share across finance, food service, the bookstore, and student affairs just to name a few.
Q: Why did you choose Nebraska Book Company for your partner in this project?
Andre: We were looking for a strategic partner that brought expertise in technology and the bookstore business. USD could bring the hospitality and dining knowledge to complement those areas. NBC was a natural fit to ensure we had an efficient and affordable POS. We are very happy with the product.
Q: What is your roadmap—what is next for USD?
Andre: In terms of our systems, we will focus on the speed and ongoing mobile presence to stay competitive. This will include even more efficient online ordering and fulfillment for our bookstore. The challenge for us is to maintain a great customer experience as we continue to move online and away from traditional brick and mortar.
Q: What other challenges do you face today?
Andre: We know that enrollment is going to be flat for the next 10 years, and we are all fighting for the same students. Online education is more cost-effective for students. We need a different set of tools to meet the needs of online students.
Q: What does the next generation of students want?
Andre: Students today want experiential transactions that are fun and innovative. This is taken into account when designing new retail spaces. We have to create memorable experiences.
Q: What types of innovations are you seeing in the marketplace that intrigue you?
Andre: The Amazon grocery model is interesting. Labor is the most expensive line item we have, so we are always looking for ways to make our retail operations more efficient. Some ideas will win and some will fail. I am okay with a little failure at times because it is a sign of progress and helps us achieve the bigger wins.
Q: Tell us about your new coffee shop concept called “Aroma.”
Andre: Students want to experience things, so we incorporated items into the design that have students doing just that. For example, we have a cold brew self-service coffee station and Amazon Echos, which allow students to pick their own music. We wanted to bring a hospitality focus to the campus retail experience.
Q: Is the concept of consumerism important to this industry?
Andre: It is emerging, but it is not as important in the university setting as in other industries. It is an opportunity for us to reinvent what we do and push the envelope in terms of innovation.
Q: How do you address the issue of customer experience vs. cost-effective?
Andre: Our number one cost is labor, so we are thinking about how to make things more efficient. Choosing Nebraska Book Company as our one technology partner afforded us savings in training, maintaining one PCI-compliant system, and licensing. The system has worked really well for us.