Book Rental Promotional Resources

Begin promoting this rental option on social media now. 

We recommend posting about this rental option multiple times leading up to and throughout rush.

We’ve done the hard part for you by creating the social graphics you can download below, customize and easily post to your channels. We’ve provided several color options to make customization easier. Social graphics are included in the downloadable art files below.

Promote the site through email.

Send targeted emails to students encouraging them to use this rental site and your promo code. Will recommend sending once per week reminders throughout rush season. Email header graphics are included but colluded in the downloadable art files below.

Market the rental option on your website.

Download the web banner graphics below put them on your site and you’re done! Set them and forget them!

4 easy-to-implement eCommerce best practices

Expert Barrett Jelvik shares his keys to building a successful eComm strategy

Barrett Jelvik, Central Washington University Wildcat Shop’s eCommerce and online ordering supervisor, oversees the store’s website and manages the order fulfillment team. Before joining the team five years ago, he worked in both corporate and startup environments doing web design and digital advertising. His breadth of experience has enabled him to strengthen and grow the Wildcat Shop’s eCommerce efforts and spread web responsibilities across multiple team members.

One thing he knows well is how resource-strapped college bookstores are. But, that doesn’t mean an eCommerce strategy has to feel overwhelming. He has outlined his four top eCommerce best practices that are truly easy-to-implement and produce almost immediate results.


1. Master the basics

Jelvik notes that many stores haven’t had the time or resources to put much effort into their eComm strategy. Since that’s the case, he says the first step is to “nail the basics.”

“Get the product imagery looking presentable and write effective product descriptions. Make sure customers can get from the homepage to checkout with relative ease. That is the biggest difference-maker for conversions,” Jelvik says.

Another important and simple step to take is reviewing customer support calls. If customers routinely call in with web issues, you know where the pain points are. Use support calls as a litmus test to determine how easy your website is to use.

2. Pay attention to Google

“Google has so many tools – business, search, analytics – and is also much more popular than your website,” explains Jelvik.

Master the search results around your store by making sure you’ve claimed your business online and updated store hours and map directions. Jelvik has noticed several stores haven’t claimed their business, and advises not underselling the massive impact Google can have.

3. Work with your vendors

“Many vendors do not have a college presence of their own, so they rely on users’ observations and customer feedback,” says Jelvik.

His advice to seeing product or service improvements or optimizations from vendors is to pass along constructive customer feedback. If vendors don’t know what you’re struggling with, they can’t fix it, he explains. Stores are a vendor’s eyes and ears.

“That’s worked out really well for us, and we have a great relationship with PrismRBS and Ratex,” he adds.

4. Stay in front of customers

Customers don’t know what they don’t know, so stay in front of them, Jelvik says.

“Email marketing, social media and Google business posts are good ways to connect with customers about what’s new and what’s on sale,” he says.

The Wildcat Shop has seen great success with their email campaigns. Their list includes close to 30,000 contacts, and they send weekly email blasts featuring new sale items. Recently, 10 minutes after sending an email, Jelvik noticed they already had four sales for a t-shirt including multiple shirts per order. According to Jelvik, Email is a “massively valuable channel” not to overlook.


Jelvik’s other tips

Make sure your site is well designed. “I look at good design as a way to get customers from A-to-B, but also to stave off payroll expenses from having to handle customer service calls. Good design greases the wheels of everything,” he says. If your website is difficult to navigate, it’s to easy for customers to abandon their cart.

Get as much product online as possible. “More product online means more opportunity for search hits,” he explains.

Take advantage of your differences from other major retailers. “We have a better opportunity than a normal store in that we don’t have to compete with each other,” he says. One of Jelvik’s favorite aspects of the collegiate bookstore industry is that he can learn from other stores through user groups and conferences. “We can all use our collective information to prop each other up, which is super refreshing. I can call someone from another store, and they’ll happily share.”

Seek feedback from student employees. “Basically you have a bunch of customers working for you. Students are eyes and ears from across the university,” explains Jelvik. Re-frame high student turnover. Instead seek students’ fresh perspectives and think of them as a marketing channel. Students can both relay information to the campus community and bring feedback back to the store.

Immerse yourself in the world of eCommerce. Jelvik recommends learning as much as possible about what you’re trying to do. Seek out resources for eComm and web design. He likes YouTube, the Shopify blog, Twitter and Reddit.

Put some responsibility on your buyers. Jelvik has tasked his buyers for getting products online and writing better product descriptions. “If they are writing descriptions on the website, they need to have an understanding of search best practices,” he says. “Instead of writing ‘black t-shirt’ it needs to be ‘black CWU t-shirt.”

Use your website for current important messages. The Wildcat Shop has been diligent about messaging on their site, especially during COVID-19, to set expectations about timing and how processes may be handled differently.

The new face of campus retail

How collegiate retailers can adapt and engage customers where they are now

Customer engagement has been evolving for the last several years, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, changes have been accelerated. Retail expert and Campus Advisory Services Senior Consultant Denise Walsh offers her insights about what has changed and how campus retailers need to adapt.

“The biggest shift I would say for campus retailers and specialty independent retailers, as well as big-box malls and retailers, is you can no longer rely on foot traffic to generate revenue,” Walsh says.

As a result, she says stores need to be asking how else they can engage with their customers.

Build relationships

Even though people are now interfacing with each other online, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for something special.

“Shoppers are looking for experiences,” emphasizes Walsh. “Especially for Gen Z’ers and Millennials, but more so Gen Z, because they love the aspect of social gatherings and doing things that are fun with other people.”

Walsh says customer engagement isn’t just about “Hi, how can I help you.” It’s important to understand that customers want relationships.

“What draws us to certain retailers and restaurants is that we feel valued as customers,” she says. “When I walk into a store, even if they don’t really know me, I like when they pretend they do. And, I don’t mean that in a fake way. I mean that genuinely.”

Obviously, because customers aren’t walking into stores as frequently anymore, relationships must get built in new ways.

Walsh suggests implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or another tool that keeps track of customer interactions and contact information. This can make it easier to track customer preferences and shopping habits and better target marketing efforts.

 

Enhance marketing and eCommerce experiences

A customer’s eCommerce experience is critical, Walsh emphasizes. “An online experience should be the same or better than an in-store experience,” she says.

Even if customers don’t complete the transaction online or they choose curbside pickup or local delivery, the process needs to be streamlined and simple, or customers will abandon the site altogether.

Marketing efforts should be ramped up and be both engaging and informative. Walsh suggests starting an email newsletter if you haven’t already and researching tactics like pixel re-targeting.

Specifically, Walsh noted the University of California San Diego Bookstore’s newsletter does a great job offering valuable content and sales opportunities to show off the store’s personality and keep the store top-of-mind for students.

Create new ways to shop

Having a strong eCommerce strategy is one way to entice customers to shop, but it’s not the only way.

“More retailers need to think about how to offer curbside pickup, consider delivery or offer virtual shopping experiences,” says Walsh.

Walsh has seen an increase in campus retailers using video or social media, like Facebook Live and Instagram stories, to showcase merchandise.

The North Dakota State University Bookstore is now using Facebook Shops so customers don’t even need to leave the social media platform to browse products. However, when you are ready to buy, it is an easy click to buy into their online platform. The University of Wyoming Bookstore features merchandise in social media videos frequently. And, the Iowa State University Bookstore is using Facebook Live and Shops to engage customers virtually.

One thing Walsh hasn’t seen campus retailers doing is live sales on social media. “Lots of boutiques and independent retailers run live sales and show customers merchandise in real time,” she explains.

She notes that live sales would require a separate way to invoice customers, but campus retailers looking for creative ways to reach customers shouldn’t rule out the possibility.

Handling course materials in new ways can also set campus retailers apart. Walsh encourages stores to consider adding a concierge service or making store pickup for materials easier by allow students to schedule specific time slots or pickup from a designated window, if available.

Optimize retail space

Finally, stores need to optimize their space as they consider reopening and social distancing implications.

Walsh recommends creating more open space where possible to make social distancing and engaging with customers easier and safer.

Another consideration is in-store signage. Signage should both inform customers about policy or process changes and also let customers know you care and that you’re taking their safety seriously.

“Remind customers of social distancing rules, including if masks are required, and make sure sanitation stations are noticeable throughout the store,” Walsh explains. “If masks are required, consider making them available for shoppers.”

These new rules might be awkward at first, but employee and customer safety is paramount, and Walsh says, stores should find comfort in these new guidelines.

“Stores can also replicate one-way aisles of grocery stores where possible and consider directional signage to help customers flow through the store more smoothly,” she says.

Host a Successful Virtual Sell Back Event

A scenario that has played out only in fictional novels and Hollywood movies is now affecting the very real lives of everyone around the world. Many campuses have closed down and most students are finishing classes online. Even if you’re still going into work, your store is likely not planning to conduct a buyback in the traditional fashion.

With all of this change, how can you host a successful virtual sell back event, and help students feel connected to campus and each other?

Here’s how to make your virtual event a success:

Begin promoting your virtual event on social media now.

We recommend posting about your virtual sellback site two times per week leading up to the end of your semester. Increase your posts to at least three times per week starting the week before your regularly-scheduled buyback event and continue through the end of buyback season.

We’ve done the hard part for you by creating these social graphics you can download below, customize and easily post to your channels. We’ve provided several color options to make customization easier.

Promote your site through email.

Send targeted emails to students encouraging them to use your sellback site. We recommend sending once-per-week reminders throughout buyback season. If you can segment to seniors only, consider making merchandise suggestions, like mortar boards and tassels to commemorate their accomplishment, alumni gear and diploma frames.

We’ve written some sample email copy, which you can use Student email templates.

Email header graphics are included in the downloadable art files.

Market your sellback event on your website.

Download the web banner graphics below, put them on your site and you’re done! Set ’em and forget ’em until buyback season is over.

Encourage student interaction and online shopping.

Be creative with ways to keep your students connected to each other and campus.

  • Host a contest for the student who is selling the most books back by asking them to post photos of their stacks of textbooks.
  • Consider posting a downloadable color sheet and hosting a student art contest. Or, keep the contest open-ended and have students post a creative project they’ve completed while self-isolating.
  • Ask students to post photos of themselves wearing their spirit gear and name a winner who is the school’s biggest fan.

Encourage students to shop online for summer class supplies or spirit wear. Message specifically to seniors to buy a commemorative mortar board and tassel, alumni gear and diploma frames.

For questions about our virtual sellback tool, email guestservicemanager@nebook.com.

New Bank Remittance Address

Nebraska Book Company has a new banking partner for wholesale customers. Effective, July 1, 2020, all payments should be mailed to:

Nebraska Book Company
Lockbox #: 776959
PO Box 776959
Chicago, IL 60677-6959

Please note: the above address is for First Class Mail only. All Overnight Mail sent by special courier should be sent to the actual site address listed below and should include the lockbox number and name.

Nebraska Book Company, Inc.
Lockbox #: 776959
350 East Devon Ave.
Itasca, IL 60143

*PrismRBS payments are not affected by this change.

Concise Capital Now Primary Owner of Nebraska Book Holdings, Inc.

The consolidated ownership and management changes provide financial stability and flexibility.

Lincoln, Neb. (September 9, 2020) – Concise Capital Management (Concise), on behalf of its clients, has purchased substantially all of the equity of Nebraska Book Holdings, Inc. (NBH), which owns Nebraska Book Company (NBC) and its divisions, Campus Advisory Services and Campus Store Design, along with a controlling interest in PrismRBS.

“Our new ownership structure provides financial flexibility and stability to continue serving the higher education retail industry, while developing innovative strategies and solutions for our customers’ evolving marketplace and unprecedented challenges,” said NBH President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “I am confident in the ability of Nebraska Book, PrismRBS and our other divisions, through the dedication of our outstanding team members and the support of our customers, to continue being a leader in this industry for many years to come.”

Concise has been a long-term minority owner and board participant in NBH and recently acquired its majority interest – demonstrating their confidence in NBC’s ability to serve the higher-education marketplace.
“Having been directly involved with Nebraska Book Company and PrismRBS for almost a decade, I continue to believe in the position of the company within the college store market and support their intense focus on customer service and innovation,” said Concise Co-Founder and Portfolio Manager Tom Krasner. “The Concise team is proud to play a part in the continuing growth of the company, which has been a leader in its industry for over a century.”

Concise has also provided additional growth capital to NBC, and CIT Bank, NBC’s primary lender, has revised its terms to allow NBC and its divisions more flexibility to operate the business, purchase inventory, improve systems and manage through the uncertainty of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Shapiro, an industry veteran and long-time NBH board member, assumed executive leadership of the company in February, joining CFO Joe Miller on the corporate executive team. Prior to joining NBH, Shapiro served as deputy executive director of the National Association of College Stores, senior vice president for intellectual property for Follett Higher Education Group, and president and CEO of the Collegiate Retail Alliance.

NBC also formally announced a number of promotions and realignment of responsibilities. David Collard has been promoted to senior vice president of sales and acquisitions; Edward Dillon has been promoted to senior vice president of sales strategy and operations; Jennifer Goetsch has been promoted to vice president of customer success and marketing; and Nichole Nobbman has been promoted to vice president, data analytics.

“These talented individuals, along with the many members of the NBH team, continue to provide strong leadership within the organization, along with great service to our customers, and I’m pleased to recognize their contributions with these promotions,” said Shapiro.


About Nebraska Book Holdings

Nebraska Book Holdings (NBH), including Nebraska Book Company, PrismRBS, Campus Advisory Services (CAS) and Campus Store Design (CSD) is headquartered in Lincoln, Neb. NBH and its divisions provide course materials, retail technology, store design services, consulting and digital solutions to more than 2,000 collegiate partners across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Learn more at nebook.comprismrbs.comcampusadvisoryservices.com and campusstoredesign.com.

About Concise Capital

Concise is an SEC-registered investment adviser with more than $300 million in assets under management. Concise is based in Miami, Florida. Concise was founded in 2004 by Glenn Koach and Tom Krasner. Learn more at concisecapital.com.

Your holiday merchandising guide: Covid edition

By Denise Walsh, Senior Advisor, Campus Advisory Services

For retailers, it’s already time to begin thinking about the end of the semester and the holidays. And, as we know, normal end-of-semester activities and holiday shopping will look different this year due to the coronavirus. To ready your store for a successful holiday season, follow these merchandising best practices and marketing tips.

Create a cause component. This year, have a servant heart and think about what your store can do to give back and help others who are struggling. Shoppers will likely be drawn to spending money that supports a cause. Consider supporting a specific student or campus group or department with a percentage of sales. Spur interest by involving those student groups or departments: for every person from the organization who makes a purchase within a certain timeframe, your store will support the specified group with a percentage of overall sales. Spur interest by involving those student groups or departments: for every person that mentions the organization when making a purchase within a certain timeframe, your store will support the specified group with a percentage of overall sales.

Prepare now (AKA earlier than normal!). This year shoppers will be shopping earlier and big retailers like Amazon and Target are already jumping on that trend. Because in-person gatherings will be limited, more people will be purchasing tangible gifts and shipping them to recipients. And, with shipping carriers already experiencing high-demand, the need to ship early is heightened.

Connect with your customers virtually. Your students, staff, faculty and community shoppers are likely missing the in-person retail experiences they’re used to. As a solution, think about how your store can create virtual shopping experiences through social media and on your website. Offer live social feeds highlighting your gift ideas or consider orchestrating some private shopping experiences for those who do want to shop in-store but still want to socially distance themselves.

Focus on your web presence. We repeat: focus on your web presence. Make sure general merchandise is listed online and featured as you would in store. It’s equally as important to think about online merchandising as in-store. Also, ensure the online shopping process is easy from searching and adding items to the cart to your checkout process. Create a journey for your customer to select a “gift idea” and target them to either a demographic, lifestyle or budget. Eliminate all barriers for your shoppers.

Create a (virtual) gift table. Provide gift ideas online, just as you would with in-store set ups. Make sure your virtual table tells a story to help customers make selections. Theme ideas could be: gifts for $25 or less; stocking stuffers or gifts for mom, dad and family members; tangible items instead of experiences; items for the home, office, kitchen or outdoors where people are spending more time; spirit gear for fans missing their in-person collegiate sporting events.

Monitor sales data. Check in regularly to detect fast and slow sellers. If there’s time, reorder merchandise selling quickly and ensure all stock is online or on the sales floor. Be creative about marketing your promotions to reach your audience digitally. Take advantage of social media and email marketing to drive sales to your website.