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INDEPENDENT COLLEGE STORES OPERATIONS & PRACTICES SURVEY 2016
Key Takeaway Report

Course Materials Remain Stores’ Top priority

Eighty-seven percent of stores surveyed sold course materials in their store. Of those, 93% sold used books and 90% offered print textbooks with a digital component. Just over half of stores offer online rentals.

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Customer Services Make a Difference

Most stores offer gift cards and special orders (84% each) and 82% offer in-store pickup for web orders. The most important new value-added service is loyalty programs; while only 17% of stores currently offer them, 39% say they plan to add one in the coming year.

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The Operations & Practices Survey Report, now available from the OnCampus Research division of indiCo, is packed with important, real-world benchmarking data about course materials practices and store operations. Included are charts and graphs depicting penetration of rental and used book programs into stores, data about markdown schedules, special customer services, mobile POS usage, social media tactics, and much more.

The report is available for purchase only to full NACS store members for just $99. To order your copy here, email
Maria Meyer at mmeyer@nacs.org.

Stores Using More POS Add-On Features

Almost all college stores (96%) utilize point-of-sale (POS) systems to run their business, including course materials, financial aid, apparel and general merchandise. As retail business becomes more complex, many are adding on new features to accommodate emerging needs; 86% are currently using at least one of the add-on capabilities of their POS system, and 69% plan to implement a special feature they’re not using. Nearly 70% use their POS to manage their text rentals program, but only 8% are accepting mobile payments.

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Website Features Affect Online Sales

According to students in a recent Student Panel survey, 69% of students indicate the most important website feature when they’re using a mobile device is for the site to be responsive or at least mobile friendly. And although three-quarters of students shop online using their phones, 37% of stores do not offer a mobile-friendly website. Forty-six percent do have a responsive site, and 8% a separate mobile site.

Markdown Strategies are Rare

Only 30% of responding stores have a markdown strategy in place and use it regularly. A whopping 38% say they don’t have one but know they need to implement one, while 22% say they don’t want or need one.

The majority of stores, therefore, wait between four and eight months before putting slow moving apparel on clearance, which contributes to higher-than-average inventory costs and slow turn rates.

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