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