Emerging trends in campus retail: concierge service

Emerging trends in campus retail: concierge service

We all know retail is changing, due in large part to the rise in eCommerce. But, brick-and-mortar stores are not dead or doomed. Shoppers’ expectations of an in-store experience have simply evolved. Customers have higher expectations for customer service, and they’re looking for more experiential retail. They also want the convenience of Amazon, yet with a local feel.

Campus bookstores are uniquely positioned to fulfill all of these expectations.

This month, in part one of our five-part series, we’re delving into how and why your campus store should implement a book concierge service for students.

Proximity vs. Prime

There’s no denying the convenience of Amazon Prime, but Amazon can’t compete with your knowledge of student preferences and course materials. And, a campus store’s location within the last mile (or close) of the fulfillment journey offers a competitive advantage Amazon can’t replicate. This knowledge and proximity to student housing gives your store the ability to create a more streamlined and efficient student shopping experience.

These campus stores showcase examples of successful implementations of concierge services for course material delivery:

  • The University of Nebraska – Omaha Bookstore provides students with faster-than-Amazon fulfillment by making same-day course material deliveries. They staff their book distribution center 24-hours a day with part-time student workers.
  • Alvin Community College Store in Alvin, Texas, offers convenient curbside pickup for an additional $2 service fee. Students can order online and pickup materials 24-hours later. A store employee will run orders outside to students parked in the designated parking spot.
  • Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota, has taken concierge service even further by providing residence-hall delivery. Their students order course materials online, and their books are delivered before they move into their hall. Gustavus collaborated with their campus’s housing and campus security departments to offer the service while still maintaining student safety standards.
  • Lethbridge College Bookstore, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, gives students the opportunity to select in-store pickup at online checkout. Customers who choose this option simply need their ID and email confirmation and they can skip any existing in-store lines to pick-up their course materials. This option is especially popular with nursing students who require medical supplies, in addition to their books.

Put it into Action

Ask yourself how your store can improve your customers’ shopping experience by providing extra service and convenience. What are you uniquely positioned for that online retailers aren’t? Identify key campus partners who may need to sign off and put together a plan to bring this service to life.