The MBS annual sales meeting took place in Columbia, Mo., October 18-20. Highlights included the unveiling of a new online bookstore, enhancements to the MBS Systems with security and ease of use in mind and more digital solutions designed to keep costs down and course materials in student’s hands on time.
The new MBS virtual bookstore offers a more user-friendly interface. The focus of the new bookstore is to be more personalized and intelligent.
“This is a more simplified website,” said Susan Thompson, vice president of MBS ecommerce. “It doesn’t’ shout at users with marketing messages. Instead it provides communication strategies and holds student’s hands, guiding them through the purchasing process.”
The current website gives students what they need, but with more than 30 links on the home page, it can be difficult. The new home page is designed to give users what they need, when they need it and bring financial aid vouchers to the beginning of the purchase process.
Understanding more purchases are completed on mobile devices, the site has the ability to “collapse,” to fit any screen on any device, without the need for a mobile app. When students log on, they have the option to purchase their course materials class by class, or enter their student ID and enjoy the convenience of having their entire schedule populate with both required and suggested materials.
MBS Systems introduced enhancements designed to eliminate the risk to bookstores. The key enhancement includes point-to-point encryption at the point of sale systems.
“With the new enhancements, the entire purchase process is encrypted,” said Chris Bovi, MBS Systems sales manager. “There is nothing to steal. The store will never see, never store or have access to sensitive information.”
New additions to the MBS Systems POS also include expanded payment options including multiple mobile payment systems, chip technology and the traditional credit card swipe.
More educators are paying attention to the rising costs of course materials and are exploring digital options. Carrie Watkins, MBS Direct senior digital consultant, said the top factors considered by educators when selecting course materials are cost, how comprehensive the material is and how easy the material is to find.
To fit the need of the institution, MBS Direct has fostered relationships with eBook providers OpenStax and Flatworld. Both provide the educator with easy to access materials at a lower cost.
Textbook alternatives are also available from Soomo, eText Builder and Junction. Boundless encourages the educator to send learning objectives or a syllabus so course materials can be specifically tailored their needs.
The digital textbook solutions enable students to save money and have their course materials on time. Educators have the freedom to adopt any textbook they want and MBS Direct has access to these lower cost options with more engagement for the student.
“At MBS Direct we are looking ahead,” Watkins said. “A lot of schools are interested in digital options, and we want to make sure they know we can help answer questions and point them in the right direction.”
MBS is continuing to grow, bringing on more people, and investing in its product offerings, but business is still conducted on a face-to-face basis.
“The course materials industry is still about relationships,” said Dan Schuppan, MBS president, “Success is in pressing the flesh.”
Business continues to be competitive and dynamic, with companies entering and exiting all the time. The MBS advantage continues to be stability and building the relationships.
“There’s large internet-based companies moving into the textbook business,” Schuppan said. “Do you think they are going to walk into a store and shake hands? They’re not.”
The MBS sales force was reminded of the benefit of being a part of a large organization that has been in business for decades and continues to invest in its team and resources.
“We’ve been doing this a long time. We have people who have been with us for forty years,” he said. “There are a lot of fly-by-night companies out there playing the price game, but what we offer is people. People who know the business, visit the schools and know the customers personally.”