UD Bookstore Shares What a Difference a Wholesaler Can Make
Stretching out scholarships
With a lower cost to students and a higher profit margin to stores, used titles are naturally sought after by college stores everywhere. However, UD Bookstore has extra motivation to obtain the most used titles possible, since the University of Dayton's Textbook Award Program offers most of the school's students a recurring textbook scholarship worth up to $500 each semester.
When the amount of books they received from their former partner was dwindling, Bookstore Director Julie Banks explored other sourcing options.
"The big thing we were trying to do was get more bang for their buck for that $500," she said. "The more used and rental thrown in the mix helps them get more with that money. We didn't want anyone to have to pay out of pocket, and MBS really helped us be able to do that."
The MBS difference
Banks notes that UD Bookstore wasn't particularly dissatisfied with their previous partner, but when the store was looking to "plug holes" in its used book inventory, she noticed MBS was a frequent source of last-minute orders for the store.
Our used book inventory and sell-through continues to climb through our partnership with MBS.— Julie Banks
"At this point we had zero relationship with them, but I sent them a few lists," said Text Manager Kevin Poindexter. "We got some really nice hits."
Though it was late in the ordering season by the time the store put in its order with MBS around mid-July, Dayton got about a quarter of the used books they earned from their provider — despite having ordered from them in March.
Dayton was still with its previous partner the following term, when they encountered more problems.
"For Spring 2014, we were taking a beating trying to get used books; they just weren't there," Poindexter said. "Again, I got a few good hits late in the game from MBS."
Dayton once again got a surprising proportion of titles from MBS. Their December order netted nearly half of the total titles they got from their previous partner starting in October.
By shaving the difference in order periods down to just under two months, the store nearly matched used titles received from both wholesalers for Fall 2014.
"That term, we ordered exclusively from (our partner) until right around Memorial Day, when we opened it up to MBS," Banks said. "Within a week or so, they had caught up to what our partner was providing us, and they stayed pretty close together all summer."
When it was all done, Dayton received only about 1,000 more used copies from their initial partner with a two-month lead.
For Dayton, the Spring 2015 ordering season was the final test. The store opened orders with both wholesalers on the same day in October — reworking their original partner's order first, then immediately reworking with MBS after.
The results? Dayton received nearly three times the used copies from MBS.
"We decided to make the switch to MBS in November of 2014," Banks said. "It has been a great decision for our store. Our used book inventory and sell-through continues to climb through our partnership with MBS."
Better service for students and store
Poindexter noted that the increase in their used inventory lead to an increase in sales. With more used titles on hand, Dayton was able to offer more students a better price on their books, saving them money while improving the store's market share.
"We have more used options, which first of all brings students into the store knowing you've got more used rental titles on hand," Poindexter said. "And, frankly, there's a better margin on used books. It gives you more room to play with your pricing, and maybe you can trade a few points to make your new books more competitive, too, because MBS has so much used inventory to help that gap."
Banks said the decision to switch didn't come down exclusively to numbers. She noted her reps with MBS were more responsive and helpful as well, and that her new wholesaler's commitment to its partner stores shone through its people.
"Our circumstances were extreme," Banks said. "Our store had just flooded and MBS was there to help us even though at that time we had no relationship from MBS: we'd ordered from them, but not in any great numbers. it's important to mention the commitment from MBS to make sure we were successful when we really started to see that downward trend from our previous partner."
About University of Dayton:
- FTE: 10,468
- Sought more used titles from MBS
- Upon receiving more copies, the store switched from its previous wholesaler and gained the used inventory needed to meet student demand
- Gives partner stores access to the largest inventory of used titles in the industry
- Automated, state-of-the-art warehouse ensures accurate orders are out the door in 24 hours
- Most competitive rebate program in the industry