Celebrating 100 Years of innovative distribution, the D&H Higher Education division welcomed college stores to its 21st BTS show in Lancaster, PA in mid-June. As D&H co-president Michael Schwab pointed out in his welcoming comments, college stores are very important to D&H since they serve today’s college students who will become the corporate influencers of tomorrow.

As in past years, D&H graciously provided meeting space for ICBA to meet with its attending buyers. Larry Staub, D&H Director of the Education Division, announced a new, simplified price program for ICBA Members: using a low everyday price model, D&H now gives ICBA Members 1% off everything – across the board! That discount is already coded into the price that Members see when logged in to their account.

In the growing space of technology, D&H continues to lead with manufacturers on the cutting edge of industry trends. Gaming was the hot topic at the show and, between conversations with buyers and manufacturers, the time is now to get involved on your campus. ICBA is actively seeking stores interested in developing their gaming businesses and are working on gaming pop-up shop “concepts” that may include multiple gaming vendors. Contact Jon Bibo if you would like to help develop a pilot concept. To see how applicable e-Sports are on your campus, visit tespa.org or nacesports.org to find local gaming chapters that may be active on your campus.

Product Showcase

When asked what items were on their D&H shopping list, buyers responded with everything from the latest in gaming, to expanding USB-C accessories, to high margin products! While margin and tech aren’t often seen hand-in-hand, here are some of the highlights and major themes from the show.

When it comes to gaming accessories, we were mesmerized by all the “S-T-G” (stuff that glows) accessories, from keyboards to speakers to fans.

Several buyers noted that printer sales are down for a variety of reasons; with little dorm space, students often weigh the convenience of having their own printer to options available to them for relatively low-cost, infrequent print-outs that can be charged to their student card. Focusing on faculty, staff, and departments with affordable laser printers may be a store’s best option for staying in the printer business.

Other notables that caught our eye:

As the Apple Turns: seemingly with every new Apple introduction, opportunities for 3rd party accessories to either enhance the functionality of the Apple hardware or fill in gaps that Apple has left open. Often the 3rd party products bring higher margins at lower retail prices (e.g. chargers, cables, hubs, device protection, phone accessories). Carrying Apple branded accessories along with a smart selection of 3rd party items is the smart way to merchandise the category. A good example of a spin-off product is Xavier’s Dongle Dangler – a clever patented keychain designed to securely hold the easily lost headphone adapter cable many use with newer iPhone models.

  • Zagg pendant turns any headphone into a Bluetooth headphone plus provides mic capabilities (available in September with at $49.95 MSP)
  • Kanex Tri-fold Bluetooth keyboards for tablets
  • Anything USB-C – check out the Patriot 3-1 USB-A, USB-C, Micro flash drive
  • IOGear USB-C port replicator/docking station
  • Wireless Charging Pads for new generation phones
  • Wacom Intuos for magic note-taking
  • Batteries: AA, AAA, and now AAAA??? Yes! AAAA fits the Surface pen!

For other popular brand trends, email Paula at PaulaHaerr@icbainc.com for a copy of the ICBA D&H presentation. Are you interested in more analytics and market facts influencing tech spend?  Let Jon and Paula know what you’re looking for.

Top 10 Smartest Thing Recap
With over 550 years of experience amongst the 40+ attendees on hand for the ICBA session, we were delighted to hear what these tech buyers considered the “Smartest Thing” they’ve done over the last year.
1. Capture in-store price quotes, follow up with customer, close 60-70% of sales
2. Get in the game! 3,000 students in gaming clubs weren’t coming in store. Help these students see that the store in an ally in their interests: hack-a-thon at Illini, gaming event at UCSD
3. Vending machines with basic supplies, including tech items
4. Online sales of computers
5. Loyalty programs
6. Multiple pick-up locations for faculty/staff convenience
7. Payroll deduction for faculty/staff
8. More demo stations for speakers
9. Poll departments to get preferred specs for hardware devices by college – Law, Engineering, Design, etc. Customize solutions with Good/Better/Best price points
10. Work with departments to make recommendations for items like voice recorders for departmental meetings or student class use.

A special shout to Randy Davis from NC State University Bookstore for joining Jon, Marc, and Paula for the round-robin meetings.