Case Study: The Univeristy of Arizona BookStores

Easy-to-update tags allow UA Bookstores staff to spend more time with customers.

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Digital Shelf Tags Allow UA BookStores More Customization

Efficiency is key to running a retail business. It makes dollars go farther and helps employees get more done. This is why many stores have turned to electronic shelf tags. Because they are digital, prices and book information can be updated remotely, saving staff time that used to be spent physically changing out the old shelf tags. You may think that physically changing out the tags couldn't have taken very much time, but with nearly 2,700 shelf tags on the floor at any given time, the time spent changing those old tags began to add up.

"We wanted an easier way to update all of our shelf tags," said Assistant Director of Technology Services Daniel McConnell. "It was taking a lot of time to switch [the tags] in and out. Now there's less man hours and we are able to reduce more of our manual labor."

At the same time they switched to digital shelf tags, the store also changed from organizing books by course to setting everything up alphabetically, which caused a bit of a shock at first. "It's been an adjustment for both students and staff. But now that they've gotten used to it, they're starting to like it," said McConnell, speaking on the store's new set up. The store's employees used to have to run to a computer to check where a course's materials were located, but the combination of the new tagging method, and the alphabetical ordering has made that a thing of the past.

Planning ahead

The installation of the digital shelf tags is just the beginning of a handful of new implementations McConnell is hoping to bring to the bookstore. In addition to expanding the shelf tags to areas in the store beyond the textbooks section, Arizona is hoping to begin putting QR codes on the tags so that if a customer comes across an item that is out of stock, then they can simply scan the code, and get redirected to the bookstore's website. From there they will be able to preorder the missing item, and pick it up in-store once a new shipment arrives.

It was taking a lot of time to switch [the tags] in and out. Now there's less man hours and we are able to reduce more of our manual labor.

— Daniel McConnell

Overall, creating a new, modernized bookstore looks to be a goal that the University of Arizona will accomplish sooner rather than later. Though there's still work left to be done, McConnell and his staff seem happy with the progress they've made, which has allowed them to focus more on the most important aspect of any retail store: the customers.

"It's great to have everything digital at our fingertips," he said. "This way we can be more interactive with our customers."

About University of Arizona:

  • FTE: 40,621 undergraduate and graduate students
  • Arizona's flagship university
  • UA BookStores function as a self-sustaining department within UA's Division of Student Affairs, without receiving subsidies from state, tuition or student fees

About MBS digital shelf tags:

  • Allows your store to quickly change information on products
  • Ensure prices stay accurate and competitive, especially during busy times of year
  • Saves time and manual labor in updating information