After attending the Mid-States Association of College Stores Conference in Des Moines, Jon headed up to Ames to visit the Iowa State Book Store. Here’s his recap:
I had a great time visiting with Rita Phillips, Heather Dean, Matt Laurich, and the Iowa State Book Store team. Here are some highlights of my visit:
• Promoting your store’s value: When I walked through the entrance, I was greeted by an attractive sign that called our many of the unique benefits and values that the store brings to the campus. Another sign called out the overall savings students have enjoyed by acquiring course materials through the Book Store.
• Jump on hot brands/categories/products: The ISU Store is capitalizing on the HydroFlask trend and has built a nice display that also includes drinkware from the popular YETI brand.
• Consider creating “store-within-a-store” sub-brands when you want to your customers to think of you in new ways:Check out the TechCyte Technology Store and the WestCyde Boutique with lots of emblematic and non-emblematic fashion and accessory items.
o In some cases, the team smartly combined both emblematic and non-emblematic items to complete an outfit in the Boutique.
• Innovation in Course Materials: the store moved to electronic Course Materials shelf tags about 3 years ago and also switched to shelving book by author—after an adjustment period, they report smoother traffic flow during rush and more efficient use of space.
• We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do!: Plenty of ISU Cyclone Apparel and Gifts from which to choose. I was lucky enough to convince both Rita and Matt to pose for pictures with me.
• To be honest, my two biggest “takeaways” were these:
1. The team is never fully satisfied—they are constantly looking for ways to innovate with merchandise and floor layout and signage, etc. They are not afraid to fail and this approach helps them succeed!
2. The sales floor associates were all incredibly, extraordinarily friendly and eager to help. I must have been greeted by 12 different associates (as I browsed around the store on my own), and they all had big smiles and they all seemed very interested in making sure I had a positive experience. To me, sales floor associates can be a real difference-maker!
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