Teachers may debate the usefulness of quantitative assessment, but for those engaged with the financial side of education, there’s no doubt: Data matters.
You know increased standardized test scores affect a school’s brand. Tuition spikes that drive students away might jeopardize a school’s financial health — and you are keenly aware that student success and retention factor into the bottom line.
What’s less well known is that the right online bookstore can offer more than a potential revenue stream. If the provider is transparent with data, it can be a guide to important information about student behaviors that affect retention. It can let you know whether students are buying their textbooks and receiving the right materials on time for class day one.
In higher education and private K–12 environments, student outcomes are heavily dependent on faculty, which can place administrators in a bind. Students of equal skill can earn entirely different grades in the same course with different teachers. One instructor might believe in setting high standards. Another might grade on a generous curve. When students’ grades drop, their frustration grows and they’re more likely to drop out.
You can’t simply dictate that all students be delivered top marks upon arrival. At the very least, your faculty would rebel.
However, data from an online bookstore offers administrators a chance to monitor and control at least one aspect of student success: course materials. Research shows that students achieve higher grades when they purchase books before class begins. That’s not surprising since most faculty regard their chosen course materials as essential components for student success. Knowing whether students are showing up to classes prepared can help you reach them before they become frustrated and drop out.
3 online bookstore metrics you must have
- Real-time student order data
An online bookstore that includes access to real-time student data offers a wealth of information. Administrators can monitor when students are ordering books and whether the books are received on time for day one. A provider that fails to include such data may be disguising an unreliable delivery rate. In addition, if students aren’t ordering books at least two weeks before classes, administrators can consider a targeted marketing campaign that communicates the importance of class preparation.
- Performance reports
Many traditional college bookstores report that students aren’t buying textbooks as they once did — or if they are, they’re doing so off-campus. With ongoing performance reports, administrators can actively monitor the success of the official school textbook source. Again, if it seems students aren’t utilizing the resource as they should, a targeted marketing campaign is in order. If your online bookstore allows students to pay with financial aid, for instance, it’s important to ensure they know this. If it includes a low-price marketplace option, you should also be able to communicate to students that they’ll find excellent savings at your store. Some online bookstore providers offer minimal information about revenue. Take care that yours provides transparency with financial data.
- Engagement stats
Beyond learning about how the bookstore functions as a revenue source, administrators need reporting on how students are using the website. How many have logged on? How many have completed an entire transaction? These data let you know if the bookstore includes the kind of personalization features students are accustomed to when shopping online — or whether it needs improvement. It can also let you know if your school would benefit from better integration with the campus learning management system.
When shopping for an online bookstore provider, make sure it offers access to all of the above metrics. That will let you respond to data proactively with targeted marketing and student communications. It’s much better to know what’s happening while students are ordering books, rather than wait an entire year.