Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Pricing is the Hottest Topic in Retail - Insight from NRF SmartBrief

As most retailers know, three factors will determine success or failure: is it the right product, is it the right time, and is it the right price? The following article was in the December 12th edition of the National Retail Federation SmartBrief:

Why pricing is the hottest topic in retail

Pricing has become a hot topic in the retail world, as merchants seek to strike the right balance between price and value, writes First Insight founder Greg Petro. He explores the pros and cons of several different pricing models, from Apple's "take it or leave it" model to Costco's volume-based approach. Forbes (12/11)

As we know, pricing on textbooks is not like it was 5-10 years ago. Stores are having to be more flexible and competitive to maintain their market share. And as for general merchandise, are you simply keystoning prices, or as the article states, looking at “full consumer value?” Take a moment to read this article to see if you may be leaving money on the table based on your current pricing strategy. This is the first of a three-part series and we will share future posts with you, too.

If you would like to receive a daily NRF SmartBrief newsletter, you can sign up at  It’s free and often contains some great retailing news, information and ideas.

Happy Reading!

Shared by Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager

Monday, October 29, 2012

Digital Content Opportunities

Digital Content Opportunities
It isn't often that I find a published article that fairly and comprehensively covers a subject, but a recently published article in EDUCAUSE Review about digital content is one that is well worth reading.  Although the orientation is understandably towards technology, many stakeholder perspectives are represented.
Here are some highlights which I think are worth consideration:
1.  Course Materials Committees — although the focus is exclusively on e-content, the importance of establishing a "Course Materials Committee" is reflected throughout the article — engaging students, faculty, library, IT accessibility, and business professionals in an open dialogue.  Many campuses have done this and I recommend the group not limit the discussion to e-content, but include textbook affordability and other course material and content alternatives.
2.  Varied Options & Partners — repeated in many ways is the need to test the waters with a variety of pilot programs, various content platforms, and different business models.  College bookstores have been engaged in digital content initiatives since at least 2005 and continue to seek new alternatives including the Campus e-Bookstore digital content platform.  Campus CIOs have also been actively engaged in the process, as evidenced by the Internet2 pilot programs.  But the campus libraries also need to be engaged in one, coordinated discussion in the context of the e-resources they provide.
3.  Assessment of Successassessing the results of pilot programs is important to determine the most successful options for students and faculty in terms of learning outcomes as well as affordability, but there are also enrollment management implications when considering the metadata that may be available with e-content.  Data collected about how the e-content is used can indicate to an instructor when a student is not using the materials or otherwise challenged.
4.  Institutional Collaboration — the opportunity to form partnerships with other institutions of higher education on e-content programs will not only help satisfy central system directives to collaborate with other schools as a way to save costs.  It also has the potential to pool resources and expertise while leveraging buying power that can help to reduce costs for the institutions and their students.
The full article can be accessed at the following link:
Enjoy this article and consider how your bookstore is engaging with the many stakeholders to this important discussion about improving learning outcomes, textbook affordability, and ultimately — student success.
Written by Guest Blogger, Jeff Nelson, Director, Bowling Green State University

Monday, September 24, 2012

University of Missouri Bookstores Open The Mizzou Store

The University of Missouri Bookstores opened a new store in Chesterfield, Mo., on August 29th, 2012! 
In the three weeks since it opened, the Mizzou Store has exceeded our expectations, both in terms of customer feedback and in store sales.   Just 104 miles east of Columbia, Mo., Chesterfield is a thriving suburb of St. Louis.  Almost twenty percent of Mizzou’s worldwide alumni live in the greater St. Louis area and they are an extremely loyal and engaged fan base.  Given the excitement surrounding Mizzou’s recent move to the Southeastern Conference, it only made sense for the University Bookstores to seize an opportunity to take the Mizzou brand to an enthusiastic community.

From the start, our goal was to create a retail environment that brought a uniquely Mizzou experience to our shoppers.   As customers enter the 4,000 sq. ft. store, they step onto a custom tile floor that recreates the green turf of Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, replete with yard lines and the SEC logo.  A life size statue of Truman the Tiger, Mizzou’s mascot, waves a greeting to all who enter. To the left, leaning goal posts and a set of bleachers with mannequins remind fans of some of Mizzou’s most exciting victories.  To the right stands a replica of six Columns, reminders of Mizzou’s enduring legacy.  “Mizzou Mecca!” cried one customer when she saw many of the iconic images in the store, including an actual school bus painted in Tiger stripes!

There is plenty of Mizzori merchandise among the many iconic images. Whether it is outfitting a newborn or supplying tailgate flags, official SEC button-downs or a set of Mizzou embellished wine glasses, the Mizzou Store promises a wide variety of merchandise to appeal to Mizzou fans and alumni at all stages of their life.  We want to reignite school spirit and fan passion by recreating the Mizzou experience.

The Mizzou Store is a prototype for the University Bookstores.  Given the success of our shared service model on the four campuses throughout the University of Missouri System, we feel that this “fan store” model could be replicated throughout the state.   Mizzou excitement is at an all-time high and we intend to monitor the performance of the Mizzou Store in St. Louis to gauge our next steps.  In the short term, a series of grand opening events are scheduled as a lead-in to Homecoming festivities in October.

We welcome our ICBA colleagues to stop in if you are flying through St. Louis and visit the Mizzou Store! 

Written by Guest Blogger, Dr. Jeff Zeilenga, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, University of Missouri 

Monday, August 27, 2012

ECRM Levin Consulting Electronics Retail Summit

ECRM Levin Consulting Electronics Retail Summit
What’s Trending in Technology Products

I attended the ECRM Levin Consulting Electronics Retail Summit August 13-15, and learned some interesting facts about where technology product sales are headed for 2012-2013. There are some exciting opportunities for collegiate retailers ahead!
The event started off with a general session titled: “Exploiting Niche Opportunities in a Stagnant Market,” presented by Stephen Baker, Vice President, Industry Analysis at the NPD Group ( Mr. Baker talked about the electronics industry as a whole. His analysis showed that overall industry volumes will be flat to negative for the year. Not a good sign. However, it’s no surprise that Apple is driving the industry. While Q2 2012 Year-over-Year revenue results from Apple were almost flat, the previous four quarters showed 12%-36% growth over the previous year. All other electronic products were down 3%-9% during this same period. Apple seems to be keeping the industry afloat.
Mr. Baker recommends that retailers should follow the big opportunities—PC’s, tablets and smartphones. PC’s and tablets are a core product in your college store mix, and ICBA is working to add smartphones to our programs. These three categories account for about 38% of the total electronics sales in the industry.

As you most likely know, tablets outsold notebook computers over the past few months.
Mr. Baker stated that notebook/netbook purchasers were slightly more likely than desktop purchasers to attach an accessory to their computer purchase. Sales of accessories for these products are on the rise, with cases and screen protectors accounting for about 70% of the total accessory revenues. Several companies at the ECRM/Levin meetings offered new bags and sleeves for laptops and tablets, as well as charging solutions for laptops and tablets. Many of the vendors I met with are also gearing up their inventory of cases, sleeves and charging accessories for the announcement and launch of the Apple iPad mini, expected later this fall. His research also showed that wireless mice were a hot commodity.

Smartphone accessories have seen a 25% increase for 2012. 7 in 10 cell phone purchasers attach an accessory for their phone at the time of purchase or within 6 months. The average cell phone purchase resulted in an additional $30 spent on accessories for the phone, though smartphones generate over three times more accessory spending.

Smartphone retailers (AT&T, Verizon stores) are losing out on the majority of aftermarket purchases, as four-in-five purchasers say they returned to a different retailer to make their aftermarket accessory purchase. That is great news for collegiate retailers. Cell phone cases, earbuds with in-line mics and charging solutions should be staples in your department. Cell phone cases are more of a fashion statement than functional, so buyers are apt to purchase more than one for their phone.

All of the vendors I met with are gearing up for the new Apple iPhone 5, scheduled to be announced in mid-September and ready for sale a few weeks later. Rumors are that the new phone will boast a bigger screen and could possibly be slightly thinner. There is also a rumor that Apple is dropping its 30-pin connector in favor of a different configuration. All of this means that there is plenty of opportunity to stock and sell new accessories for the iPhone 5—cases, battery cases, chargers, etc.

Finally, audio remains important but the growth segments are designed to make it more portable (and less device centric). While headphones and earbuds still remain strong, streaming audio speakers or Bluetooth speakers will also see continued growth in the market, experiencing a 280% growth in the past year.

Bluetooth speakers range in price from about $50 to $200 and now produce some awesome sound in a small package. It is important that you have a display unit out so that your customer can sync their device and listen to their own music. That is the best way to sell a system.

I am working with many of the companies I met at the ECRM/Levin Consulting Electronics Retail Summit to bring their products to our member stores, either direct or through key distributors who serve our channel. Look for the announcements about these new programs and take advantage of what these vendors have to offer. There are opportunities for growth in your store’s electronics/technology department with new product constantly hitting the market.

Blogged by Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shopping the LA Fashion District!

Women’s fashion merchandise is an emerging category for many collegiate retailers today. In response to this opportunity, ICBA developed a buying program in May 2011 with, a company that focuses on your particular market to find current fashion apparel and accessories at 20 to 60% below wholesale. ApparelOffPrice emails the buyers a catalog of current styles, available for at once shipping, 2-3 times per week. was started by Bob Libby, a fashion industry veteran in Los Angeles, who also started The Insiders Buying Office. At The Insiders Buying Office, Bob and his staff take buyers directly to major manufacturers, contractors and jobbers in Los Angeles to shop for Junior and Contemporary Apparel. Buyers pick from the racks the most current styles of clothing in all categories: Junior, Missy Contemporary, Plus Size Women's Clothing and Men's.

On August 7 & 8 I, Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager, along with 14 buyers from nine ICBA member stores, traveled to Los Angeles to meet with Bob and his team and shop the LA Fashion District and San Pedro Market. ICBA members who participated were Abby Coan, Auburn University, Laura Anderson and Cari Callahan, Central Washington University, Kristin Bonetati and Lily Lopez, CSU Long Beach, Shandra Van Berkum, Iowa State University, Kelly Morlock and Sarah Castro, San Diego State University, Liz Simpson, University of Kansas, Amanda Butler and Cristy Phelps, University of Missouri, Diane Wirth, University of Oregon, and Pam Loignon and Richard Karlinsky, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

The group met with and viewed lines from 12 different sources. Items included sweaters, jackets, leggings, basic & fashion tees, blouses, dresses and more. We also visited one of the largest accessories showroom in the San Pedro Market and the buyers walked away with jewelry, handbags, scarfs, hats and even some display fixtures.

Most of what was purchased was for immediate delivery, so many of the items will be in the stores for Fall 2012 Rush sales.

Kelly Morlock, San Diego State University, commented: “Bob was great; he got great pricing, had a variety of things to see, and I loved that there was no pressure. The fashion was all current and on point, and I liked that he listened to our needs. I truly enjoyed spending time with other (ICBA) stores, listening and seeing what they have done that works and what doesn’t.”

We finished the two days of buying with a trip to the University of Southern California Bookstore, where they have a spacious fashion department on their lower level that features both men’s and women’s fashions and accessories. Natasha Kuzmanovic, Senior Apparel Buyer, gave us a quick tour of her department.

Kristin Bonetati, CSU Long Beach, summed up her experience by saying: “The group of buyers was awesome! We learned so much from talking to them and hearing what they do and how they display.  It was really collaborative. We really liked the trip to USC at the end.  It not only gave us a chance to see how the product could be displayed at its best, but also some really great product and merchandising ideas.”

ICBA will be planning future trips to Los Angeles to meet with The Insiders Buying Office and shop the Fashion District and San Pedro Market. Please contact Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager at if you are interested in joining the group. Actual dates have not been set, but the plan is to go in early November 2012 and late July 2013.

In the meantime, I encourage you to join the ICBA Fashion Group Facebook page and follow the successes of these schools and others and see how they are selling fashion merchandise and accessories. Simply search for “ICBA Fashion Group” on Facebook and request to join. This is a private Facebook site and the postings and discussions are limited to ICBA member stores only.

At ICBA, we are committed to bringing our stores the latest fashion styles and prices that help them expand their own fashion departments and increase their profits.

Contact ICBA for more information, 800.888.9222 and Insiders Buying Office at

Blogged by Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Join us in Bellevue for ICBA 2013

In case you hadn't heard the big news, start planning now to...
Escape to green, clean, sophisticated and stylish Bellevue, Washington, home to the greatest collection of high-tech companies outside of Silicon Valley and the site for our annual ICBA 2013 Retail Conference. Nestled between two mountain ranges on the shores of glittering Lake Washington, Bellevue is just 17 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Business Encounter & PRIMEtime
February 4 to 8, 2013
Hyatt Regency Bellevue
900 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA  98004
A room rate of $164 + taxes, is offered for January 31 through February 9, 2013, while space is available. Room reservations will open soon.
Conference registration opens soon.

Plan to be part of it all at ICBA 2013
As always, ICBA 2013 promises to bring you brilliant solutions, best practices and connections with the brightest change-leaders in our industry.

Make it your mission
ICBA Professional Development programs are for everyone. Keep yourself updated by visiting our website. Known for addressing the most pressing issues in our industry and initiating solutions, ICBA mixes industry-leading Professional Development, face-to-face vendor meetings and peer-to-peer networking—to ensure everyone returns to their store rejuvenated and empowered to take the lead.
At ICBA Conferences, you experience:
  • The highest rated professional education in the industry
  • Exclusive institutional store networking and collaboration
  • The most dynamic format for buyer and vendor interaction
  • Unsurpassed buying opportunities
  • Vibrant location and facilities
  • All-inclusive format with a reputation for the best social and dining experiences
  • Opportunities for free registration/education & airfare

Surrounded by State-of-the-Art Retailing
You’ll find unlimited retail research within four blocks of the Hyatt. With over 300 of the most important retailers in the world, this is a unique opportunity to explore, discover, borrow and steal ideas to improve your own store. Here are a few enticing highlights:
  • The Bellevue Collection is “the new rhythm of retail.” Conveniently connected to Hyatt Regency Bellevue by sky bridges, this exciting collection merges 250 shops, 45 restaurants, as well as late-night hot-spots and a 16-screen premiere cinema. The collection includes Bellevue Place, Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square. Among others, explore Nordstrom’s, Apple, Macy's, Williams Sonoma, Microsoft, Pottery Barn, Tiffany’s, Crate & Barrel, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and Eddie Bauer. 
  • The Bravern is an extraordinary definition of the ultimate shopping experience. Amid the architecture and lush landscaping reflecting intimate qualities of a European village, you’ll discover a perfect blend of dining, entertainment and shopping. Among others you’ll find the first and only Neiman Marcus in the Pacific Northwest, Salvator Ferragomo, Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, Jimmy Choo, four signature restaurants including Wild Ginger and John Howie's Steak, as well as the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.
  • University BookStore, Bellevue exemplifies how to shop independent and be independent. In 1987 this 22,000 square-foot store was opened in downtown Bellevue, marking the first time the Book Store had conducted business from a site away from the UW campus. Freshly remodeled in 2011, as you browse “one of your own” you’ll be dazzled and inspired by their off-campus success in creating a destination and center of attraction for community events and connections.
More about Bellevue, Washington
“Bellevue is the Pacific Northwest’s premier resort shopping and dining destination, with hundreds of well-known upscale stores and unique boutiques, dozens of sit-down restaurants and take-out treat shops” Read More…

Conference registration opens soon...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

List Serves Give You More Ways to Share

ICBA is excited to announce that we are now offering seven different Discussion Lists. Also known as “List Serves,” these seven lists further support exclusive, institutional store-to-store sharing and connects similar groups of buyers and managers quickly and easily. Use this interactive resource to communicate and connect with peers, get advice, find product and vendor information, ask questions, offer suggestions and seek or share support.

As an ICBA Member Store, you are welcome to subscribe to as many lists as you choose, by emailing with the name of the list or lists you wish to join. The lists reach members who registered to participate in the list.
    1. All (not associated with a specific category)
    2. Directors & Managers
    3. Course Materials & Academics
    4. Apparel, Gifts & Backpacks
    5. Technology
    6. Supply
    7. Marketing
As a service to member stores and to support our promise of store-to-store sharing, ICBA will occasionally subscribe you to one or more of the appropriate lists based on your job responsibilities. If you choose, you always have the ability to unsubscribe by following instructions on the bottom of the list message. For more specifics about the list serves, please login to your Member account.

As an ICBA member store you are easily connected to a vast array of information, and with the best minds and ideas in the industry. We encourage you to use all of ICBA’s interactive resources to connect and learn with your peers.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    New Opportunities – Swimming, Not Sinking

    "Come gather 'round people wherever you roam and admit that the waters around you have grown and accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.  If your time to you is worth savin' then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone for the times they are a-changin..."

    It is incredible to me it was nearly FIFTY years ago when Bob Dylan penned the lyrics to The Times They Are a-Changin. I find it hard to believe how true his words remain today.  While change is constant, a noticeable difference today is how the pace of change has increased dramatically.  Two industries where this is most apparent include collegiate retail and consumer technology.
    Luckily, I have always been a good swimmer and I have also learned to “swim” even faster over the years.  In fact, as a former lifeguard and water safety instructor, I once taught others to swim and survive. Hidden in this analogy of Bob Dylan’s music to present day, is the ability to stay afloat with a little determination and the power of ICBA - where we learn to swim and keep from "sinking like a stone."
    As most stores do, BGSU approached the Annual ICBA Retail Conference, in Ft. Myers this past February, with the goal of identifying new business opportunities to offset some declining categories.  Borrowing a practice learned from University of Missouri’s Jeff Zeilenga, we logged the best ideas gleaned from the ICBA Conference, attaching dollar estimates for new revenue or cost savings where possible.  In addition to providing an ROI for the meeting expense, it also quickly focused our energy on specific initiatives to pursue.
    One standout new business opportunity, identified by Wendy Schortgen from the BGSU Bookstore, was partnering with Mobile Generation to become a Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer.  We all agreed this was a critical priority to pursue.  Ideally, we wanted to have this in place (or at least visible) before the new student orientation programs began on June 6th.
    Within a week we had secured the support of the BGSU administration and a draft agreement for review with university legal counsel was in hand.  After the typical back-and-forth negotiation over contract language, a final agreement was signed in late April.  Just a few short weeks later, Mobile Generation arrived to review a location and choose fixtures.  On June 6ththe first day of new student orientation – the fixtures were delivered and installed. 
    Although the Verizon kiosk was not yet operational, new BGSU students and their family members visiting the Bookstore can't possibly miss the bright red Verizon brand identity and logo.  With good brand visibility and knowledge of Verizon phones and services coming soon, our goal was accomplished.   Staff training and a “soft” launch is planned for late June and, while BGSU is still busy with orientation, the Verizon Kiosk will be fully operational in time for back to school.
    It is highly unlikely we would have been aware of this new opportunity if not for the efforts of the ICBA team who brought Mobile Generation to the Annual Conference just four months ago.  The power of ICBA networking was also a factor in BGSU implementing this program.  University of Minnesota was a pilot location for a Mobile Generation Verizon kiosk.  Bob Crabb and Jim Kyle willingly shared their experience as a pilot along with pictures of the Verizon kiosk they had established.
    There are a few lessons learned that connect with the opening theme and words of Bob Dylan.  Technology is rapidly evolving – changing how students learn and how faculty members teach.  No one can predict what the future will hold for college stores and how the convergence of mobile technologies, such as tablets and smart phones, will impact higher education, but it is a given that the significant growth will continue.
    More importantly, it is changing consumer expectations.  These are the consumers that campus retailers need to be positioned to serve if we are to survive and even thrive.  Therefore, it is essential for college stores to not only meet consumer demand, but to be perceived as an essential resource – for printed and digital content and the evolving mobile technologies used to communicate in the future.
    To be positioned for a successful future, any organization must be able to adapt quickly to change and take advantage of new opportunities.  As the technology evolves, so must college stores.  The alternative is to risk being left out of that future, falling behind, and becoming marginalized with their customers - no longer being viewed as an essential resource.  Carpe diem! Seize the day!  Don't just survive - thrive!

    Written by Guest Blogger, Jeff Nelson, Director, BGSU Bookstore

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    eText Strategy Webinar

    On May 9 Campus Technology presented a webinar eText Strategies: Creating a Path to Digital. It was sponsored by McGraw Hill. Basically this webinar is a look at the approach taken at the University of Indiana where the school guarantees 100% of the students enrolled in a class will buy the digital course materials in exchange for the publisher reducing the price of the digital content relative to the price of the same content in hard copy. This model is currently being piloted in various forms by The Big Ten Committee for Institutional Cooperation, EDUCAUSE and Internet 2, University of Minnesota Bookstore, Follett's new IncludED program, Collegiate Retail Alliance, and others. Participating publishers vary from pilot to pilot. The webinar addresses a couple of the current pilots.

    At about 34:16 minutes into the webinar, Brad Wheeler, VP of IT at Indiana is asked a question about the bookstore’s role.  He speaks favorably on the role of bookstores, and notes that at IU they outsourced their bookstore.  At about 49:47 minutes Tim Peyton, Senior Director of Marketing at McGraw Hill, explains what is happening with Minnesota and the role the store can play versus charging course fees. 

    This webinar is available for viewing to anyone. To access the webinar you simply register with Campus Technology:

    eText Strategies: Creating a Path to Digital
    Developing an eText strategy that will serve the needs of institutions, faculty, and students requires thoughtful planning. This presentation will use the Indiana University experience as a case study to explore the strategic, business, and policy issues that institutions should consider when exploring an institutional eText strategy or considering an eText initiative.

    Posted by Stacy Waymire Executive Director

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    Dramatic Shift to Digital

    Tech Crunch TV has posted a very interesting interview with McGraw Hill Higher Education President Brian Kibby. Kibby shares McGraw's timeline regarding the adoption of digital. Equally important he explains the distinction between ebooks, econtent and the integrated learning experience delivered by "digital". In presentations at ICBA Conferences and at ICBA presentations at various state and regional meetings we have shared what we call monetizing acess to a website (MAW). The financial transaction for a student to engage with the type of econtent Kibby describes is the purchase of an access code. There are a variety of names various organizations use; resource codes, registration codes, PINs, etc. At ICBA we choose to use the term access code. This code allows the student to engage with learning materials online through a digital device. The move to digital means that the most significant "course material" product to be sold in the future will be access codes. At a running time of 8 minutes this video is worth viewing, especially the first three minutes.But to help make it easier here is a rough transcript of Kibby's dramatic opening remarks:

    "The adoption of ebooks is accelerating, or econtent as I like to call it because it's more than just ebooks. It's content that is simulations, and it's an integrated learning experience...So that uptick is accelerating. I think over the next 18 months we'll see a sea change across the board...Right now the uptick might be 3% some places, sometimes 5%. You will have schools in the not not too distant future with nothing but ebooks, econtent. And that could be 12 to 18 months away in some cases. I think within a 12 month period we'll see a rapid acceleration of it. And I think within 36 months we'll see a sort of national uptick of digital...Within 36 months we'll see a dramatic shift in the use of digital across the board at the higher education level. It will be dramatic. It could be 18 months, but certainly within 36 months we will see an incredible change there."

    An Interview With McGraw-Hill Higher Education President, Brian Kibby, About The Future of Ebooks

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    "Mastering" Customer Service

    If you are a golfer, this is one of the greatest weeks of the year—Masters Week. If you are not a golfer,
    don’t worry, this is more about customer service than golf.

    I was fortunate enough to make the trip to Augusta, GA, home of Augusta National and the Masters, earlier this week for the Monday practice round. Having wanted to attend this
    tournament for the past 40+ years, I was excited beyond belief.

    The day started at 6:30
    a.m. with the drive to the course. We parked our car and headed for the main gate. There we were greeted by one of Augusta’s finest directing traffic (who undoubtedly had been there for several hours). The smile on his face and his
    humor in dealing with a crowd that did not want to wait for traffic to clear before crossing got my day started off right.

    Once across the street and onto the grounds of Augusta National, everyone we encountered greeted us with a smile and “Welcome to the Master.” I mean everyone—security, ticket takers, marshals, concessionaires…even the guys monitoring the restrooms.

    It got me thinking about customer service in our industry. First, let me point out, that each of these folks I encountered is a volunteer. They are not paid to be there. They do it for the love of the game and for the prestige of working the Masters and what it represents. Do your paid employees share this level enthusiasm for your store? Does everyone greet your customers with “Welcome to the Bookstore?”

    If you’ve ever watched the Masters tournament on TV, trust me, it does not do the place justice. The grounds of August National are immaculate. Everything in its place and nothing is out of place. I was hard pressed to find a piece of trash on the course or at the concession stands. Again, superior levels of customer service in how the place looks to its patrons.

    And in the merchandise shop, as busy as this was throughout the day, the shelves were always neat and organized. We were there at about 3:30pm, during the heat of the day. It was crowded, hectic and hot, but every associate in the shop had a smile on their face and were eager to help find a size, color or item. And again, these are volunteers!

    Finally, as we left the course, we were told “Thank you for coming.” What a way to end a fabulous day and experience.

    We’ve all been to enough industry sessions to know what good customer service is. But are we making this an integral part of our store and university branding? If volunteers, up before dawn and working in hot 90 degree days or rainy conditions, dealing with rush-like crowds can exude
    this “Masters” attitude, I know our industry employees can as well. Have you set Masters-like customer service standards for your store and employees? Do your employees support these standards with their actions? Make sure your employees are “Mastering” customer service on your campus.

    Written by Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Thank you Ken Bankson!

    This year, at the ICBA 2012 Retail Conference, we honor our long time colleague and friend, Ken Bankson of RMSA for his continuous dedication and support in helping ICBA stores achieve financial success.

    From the creation of the RMSA-ICBA forum to our RMSA-ICBA Peer Group conference calls - growing so popular they are now Peer Group webinars - Ken brings immeasurable value to our members during these dynamic times in our industry. Stemming from his passion for retailing and building strong client relationships, Ken selflessly regards the needs of our members as his first priority. For this, ICBA thanks Ken Bankson for all he has done and will continue to do for ICBA Stores.

    With gratitude, Ken Bankson shares the following:

    Dear ICBA,

    Thank you for your recognition at the ICBA Retail Conference. To say I was stunned and thrilled at the same time would be understating my emotions. Having passion for this industry is easy due to the fine people I have met over the past 15 years. The passion has grown the last few years now that I am directly working with many of your members. The challenges they face due to the change in the industry are significant - creating great opportunity as well as potential risk, Helping them maximize their opportunities while minimizing their risk is very rewarding.

    I am lucky that RMSA has been able to build such a strong, beneficial bond with ICBA. I look forward to seeing many of you at CAMEX in Salt Lake City and to many more years of working together with my friends at RMSA.

    All the best,
    Ken Bankson

    About RMSA:
    RMSA works with retailers on a personal and individual basis to improve the performance of their business by achieving specific and measurable goals. ICBA has partnered with Retail Merchandise Service Automation (RMSA) for more than ten years. RMSA is the nation’s oldest and largest company offering retail merchandise planning, forecasting and inventory management services. For more information please visit the ICBA Website, Retail Management (RMSA)

    Written By Skye Carlson, ICBA Administrative Assistant

    Thursday, February 23, 2012

    ICBA 2012 Hosted Over 4,460 Buyer & Vendor Meetings!

    The ICBA 2012 Retail Conference, Business Encounter & PRIMEtime, featuring the D&H Pavilion, is now a recent memory. WOW! What a great week in warm, sunny south Florida!

    The week started off with our PRIMEtime meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Over 4,460 one-to-one meetings were scheduled between ICBA buyers and the PRIMEtime vendors over the two days. Vendors attending PRIMEtime represented product categories such as Academic Course Materials, Apparel, Backpacks, Imprinted Gifts, School & Office Supplies, Computers, Computer Accessories and Consumer Electronics.

    110 ICBA buyers and managers took advantage of our FREE offer for PRIMEtime—FREE registration (a $595 value) and FREE airfare (up to $500), plus $30 for ground transportation. ICBA reimbursed our member stores over $113,000 in travel expense to attend the 2012 Retail Conference. No other organization offers this valuable benefit. Plan to be at ICBA 2013 and take advantage of all the ICBA has to offer.

    PRIMEtime offers an opportunity to discover new product lines and suppliers that you may have never seen to add to your merchandise mix to increase your bottom line, over 30 new vendors companies attended PRIMEtime just this year!

    What are the buyers saying about ICBA 2012 PRIMEtime:

    Academic Course Materials

    “Finding out if there are new things we could collaborate on to offer more affordable course materials to students. Learning about new programs that we can implement that could save us money as an organization.”

    Apparel, Backpacks & Imprinted Gifts

    “Seeing new vendors I have never worked with before in a no-pressure environment.”

    “The knowledge I picked up from meeting one-on-one.”

    “Getting to know vendors you haven't met or wouldn't get a chance to meet before.”

    “PRIMEtime prepares me for the buying season and gives me the chance to see new vendors and ask question. It is a tough schedule to see so many vendors in 2 days, but well worth the effort.

    School & Office Supply

    “Seeing so much product in such a compact amount of time. GREAT preview to the season.”

    “Meeting all the stakeholders who are inspired by their products.”

    Technology Products

    “Seeing all the new products. Connecting with reps.”

    Thank you to all attending buyers and vendors who joined us in Fort Myers, Florida. Specifically, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to connect with your peers, old and new vendor partners and to learn about new innovations and solutions that will help advance your store into the future. Plan to be with us for ICBA 2013 PRIMEtime, February 4-9, 2013 at a location to be announced soon.

    For more details about the ICBA Retail Conference & PRIMEtime events, featuring the D&H Pavilion, please contact Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager at 866-841-ICBA (4222) or See you in 2013!