Case Study: Panola College

Consumer demands are evolving and, in today's fast-paced world, one of their most basic expectations is quick and efficient service. The only way your store can provide that, however, is with an equally efficient system. Panola College Store discovered the difference that technology truly makes after converting to the MBS system in the summer of 2012.

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The Omnichannel Experience

Meeting customer needs through integration

The store had previously been using paper records for everything from adoptions to student financial aid. In an effort to streamline their service, they decided it was time to invest in a system that handled those aspects seamlessly.

"We needed an online storefront, integrated student financial aid and online adoptions," explained Jessica Pace, manager. "We looked at three or four different systems and did quite a bit of research before making a decision."

In the end, it came down to functionality. They ultimately selected the MBS system because it offered everything they needed to provide superior service to their customers, while simplifying the work for their staff.

"MBS was also very quick to respond throughout the RFP process. I think that a provider's response time is a true reflection of how they'll be as a partner," Pace said. "Their support is great and our client representative always gets back to us right away. I don't think I've had a single issue that hasn't been solved since we implemented the system."

Customer satisfaction on the rise

Since the transition, the store has also noticed a complete transformation in their ability to meet customer needs.

"There have been so many benefits, but the biggest is the fact that we've decreased wait times," she described. "Before, students would wait in a long line and, many times, get to the front only to realize they needed a student financial aid voucher from an office across campus. So, they'd leave and come back only to wait all over again. Now, our lines are significantly shorter, and all students have to do is hand us their ID. It's all integrated, so we just swipe it and complete the transaction."

Their support is great and our client representative always gets back to us right away. I don't think I've had a single issue that hasn't been solved since we implemented the system.

— Jessica Pace

Students don't always shop in-store, however, so Panola College Store is just as focused on providing an exemplary online experience to their customer base.

Using MBS inSite, they're able to easily update their merchandise to ensure customers near and far can view an accurate representation of their inventory.

"We have two satellite locations and a lot of parents who live far away, so there are customers who can't always come into the store," she said. "They want to show their support for the college, and need a way to purchase merchandise long distance. In the past, I've spent an entire afternoon taking photos of branded merchandise to send to those who wanted to see what we had. Now, all of that is available in a few clicks!"

In fact, in just one year, their eCommerce orders increased by 167%. "It's been great!" Pace said.

It isn't just merchandise that they sell, however. Textbooks are also available for purchase online, which has been an integral part of their success.

"Students really appreciate the fact that they can log in to their inSite account and see what course materials they need at a glance. It's easy to understand and navigate, which is a big benefit," she described. "We also sell study aids and ancillary content on the site, which helps increase our sales and enhance students' learning experience in the long run."

More features lead to better experiences

The most popular inSite feature from a student perspective however, is price comparison. According to Pace, it's been vital to changing student perceptions of the store.

"It's a way for us to prove that we're not trying to pull the wool over their eyes when it comes to textbooks," she emphasized. "We're actively trying to give them the best price and value, and they love that we're so open about how our prices compare. It's been very well received and inSite makes the feature easy to offer."

By offering online and in-store service through a system that provides a single shopping experience, Pace believes that her store is able to stay competitive and current with the latest retail trends.

"MBS has helped us offer an omnichannel experience," she described. "We're able to better serve our customers, whether they're here on campus, at our satellite locations, or across the state."

To other stores who are exploring system options, Pace has one key suggestion: "Look at what you need and what you want, because those aspects aren't always the same, and narrow your focus to the specific areas you want to improve," she said. "MBS has options available for pretty much every need, so choose the ones that are right for your store."

About Panola College:

  • FTE: 2,322
  • Located in Carthage, Texas
  • Transitioned from paper records to omnichannel system
  • Decreased wait times with integrated SFA

About MBS Store Technology Solutions:

  • Provides a dedicated client representative for each school
  • Ability to sell merchandise to customers who live far from the bookstore with MBS inSite
  • MBS inSite allows for transparency with price comparison for textbooks