R-MC Campus Store Debuts a New Location and a New System
Technology brings store into 21st century
The timing seemed right; the R-MC Campus Store at Randolph-Macon College was set to reopen in the newly constructed campus student center in the spring of 2013. So, the store's staff and administration agreed that there was no better time than the present to upgrade their offerings.
"We were in the Dark Ages in terms of technology," explained director Barclay DuPriest. "We had a website but didn't offer online textbook or merchandise sales, and we had an incredibly hard time maintaining accurate inventory with our old POS system."
In early 2012, the store began an extensive search to find a system that would best meet their needs. They compared several vendors, ultimately choosing the MBS system.
"We didn't want to gradually upgrade. We wanted something that would keep us ahead of the industry; something that would put us in the 25th century," she said. "We're lucky that our boss, Paul Davies, vice president of administration and finance, is very familiar with college bookstores and what they need to succeed. He was on board from the beginning and wanted us to find a solution that strengthened our online presence. We'd always heard that MBS was the crème de la crème because their system was so comprehensive."
"Their technology really fit our needs," agreed assistant manager Rebecca Bowles. "We wanted to greatly improve our website and accept online orders, and they had the best solution. Plus, we've always worked well with MBS in the past; they provide us with more used books and a better selection than anyone else, so we didn't want to lose that strong relationship."
Support along the way
Once they made their decision, it was time to implement. The only problem was, the store was in flux between the two locations and their accommodations didn't make it easy to convert to a new system.
"We knew it would be one heck of a year," DuPriest admitted. "We spent six months in trailers, were moved into our new location two months early, had to deal with a sewer blockage; it truly was a perfect storm. If we'd just upgraded to a new system it would have been fine, but we had a whole slew of other things happening at once."
We'd always heard that MBS was the crème de la crème because their system was so comprehensive.— Barclay DuPriest
Although they faced their share of challenges, staff members were thankful to have MBS Client Representatives there to support them on the systems side, streamlining at least one task on their ever-growing to-do list.
"They've been very helpful," said Bowles. "I learn best by doing, so I've called several times to have them walk me through a process, or just listen to make sure I'm correct. They're patient with me, and are always quick to respond."
Since their reopening, the store has achieved their goal of adding online textbook orders to their website. Bowles, who also serves as textbook manager, understood how the process worked in theory, but didn't have a feel for the impact that the new option would have on her job. After one semester, however, she's more than pleased with the back-end operations.
"I was thrilled with the way it worked," she described. "It's very easy to learn, maintain and keep track of everything; it's been wonderful to work with in my opinion. There are a lot of bells and whistles, but it's very user-friendly."
Ease of use leads to satisfaction
The store had just enough time to educate the incoming class on the new feature during freshmen orientation and utilized other channels such as email and social media to inform other students.
"We had just over 300 online sales this semester, but I haven't had a chance to compare those numbers to our past sales history. All in all, I think we slightly grew or at least maintained our customer base, which is great for the first time around, because only a percentage of our students actually knew about it," she said. "As we get through the next three semesters, I expect we'll see that number continue to grow."
The process will soon be streamlined for faculty members as well. This spring, the store will introduce a new process that allows them to submit adoptions seamlessly to the store, using MBS' solutions.
"In the past, they would post textbook information to the registrar's website, and it was a nightmare," Bowles explained. "There were usually old editions, or ISBN numbers that had been jumbled, because the information was automatically posted online without me having a chance to review it. I'm very anxious to offer an improved option."
Through the MBS system, the store can also access expanded sales and inventory information in robust reports that weren't previously available to them.
"The people in the business office have really been wowed by reports provided by the MBS system," DuPriest emphasized. "It's made my job much easier as well," agreed Bowles. "It's been so nice to have a reliable source of inventory numbers; I'd have to say that's been one of the biggest advantages because it's something we struggled with before."
Overall, the store is more than satisfied with their new location and updated system, and are looking forward to the possibilities they each hold for the future. To those stores who find themselves in a similar situation, they have one bit of advice to share, based on their experience: "You have to decide which areas are weaknesses for your store, and find a system that offers you the ability to improve upon them," Bowles suggested. "For us, those included an online presence and inventory management and we've grown tremendously in both areas. We have glowing reports of the MBS system; I don't really have any bad things to say!"
About Randolph-Macon College:
- FTE: 1,325
- Private college located in Ashland, Virginia.
- Opened new campus student center and transitioned to the MBS system in spring of 2013
- Offered online purchasing through inSite for the first time when the new student center opened
About MBS Systems:
- User-friendly interface of MBS POS allows for smooth transitioning
- Dedicated account manager on hand
- MBS Systems inSite allows for a robust eCommerce solution to fulfill orders worldwide
- MBS Systems inSite allows faculty to adopt course materials directly into the system
- Comprehensive reports available from MBS POS, Text and GM applications as well as from inSite