When North Central University's longtime bookstore manager took a job elsewhere, the school took the opportunity to re-evaluate its store and how it served students' course material needs. The Christian co-ed Minnesota residential college found that its 1,300 students were facing some challenges, including long waits and an inefficient process within their on-campus bookstore.
"At that time the bookstore was with another wholesaler and systems provider, and when I came in and saw the POS system that they used, it was a nightmare," said Amy High, current director of bookstore services. "The amount of time that provider took for POS system to check out one single item during rush was 90 seconds. I said 'we’ll be here forever and have lines out the door if they continue with us, we have to get out of this contract.'"
In an attempt to to maintain the traditional financial model and avoid writing off existing inventory, the school opted to continue for at least one more year selling textbooks in its campus store. The experience proved to be more of an ordeal than it was worth, however.
"Doing a semester of textbooks in the bookstore was a complete nightmare for us, as well," High said. "The assistant director and I were fairly new in the last year, and frankly did not know what we were doing. I lost nights of sleep worrying if we had all of the books or the right books. Eventually I went to my boss and said "we can't keep doing it like this anymore.'"
High had come to North Central the previous year from Crown College, a similar Twin Cities-area school that utilized MBS Direct as its online course material fulfillment partner. Having seen firsthand how positive of an experience MBS Direct brought for both Crown College and its students, High opted to pursue a partnership for North Central when she was named the new director of bookstore services. North Central's first term with MBS Direct begins Dec. 1, 2016.
"The implementation process has been absolutely wonderful," High said. "MBS Direct has excellent customer service, and everything has been easy and fun. The people on the client services team are wonderful and we thoroughly enjoy working with them."
Traditionally, North Central students had frequently ordered their course materials in advance online, and picked them up in the campus bookstore when they were ready. This made MBS Direct an even more natural fit for the student body, as well as an easy transition. Now, each student's order comes packaged from MBS Direct's highly automated warehouse facility in Columbia, Missouri, to be distributed directly to students on campus through North Central's mail room.
"I was worried we would catch a lot of flack from students with the change, but by offering the ability to now order everything online without having to go to the bookstore, the students we've been able to tell about that are just beaming," High said. "The fact that they can order their materials over Christmas or Summer break and have them all ready for the start of class without having to take two hours to go find their books and stand in line, they're thrilled."
North Central students still have a place to purchase spirit wear, notebooks and other essential gear on campus. The North Central University Campus Bookstore will remain open for such needs, and will be re-branded as the Campus Store over the summer, providing the most convenient and efficient service for students.