Case Study: University Western Carolina

Western Carolina University Bookstore has found a stadium solution in the Microsoft® Surface Pro. With the Surface Pro, the MBS POS becomes a fully-portable retail application suite. This allows WCU Bookstore to stock a wider variety of merchandise at its three stadium satellites, and it streamlines inventory planning. Even better, it lets associates provide a more customer-focused experience for the diverse community of Catamount fans who throng the stadium on game days — including campus VIPs.

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WCU Bookstore Wins Big with Catamount Fans

WCU Bookstore’s critical game-day needs

Because football is king in Cullowhee, North Carolina, the home of Western Carolina University, WCU Bookstore makes superb service at its football stadium satellites a top priority. Ever since the store acquired five MBS Surface Pros POS — one for each satellite and one for a tailgating satellite — it’s been able to drive revenues while enhancing the fan experience, according to WCU Bookstore self-support associate and stadium manager, Kati Smith.

“Football is the main driving force in this part of North Carolina,” said Smith. “It’s everything here.”

NCAA Division I football is an obsession for fans throughout western North Carolina. On game days, E.J. Whitmire Stadium, nestled in the Appalachians, frequently sells out its 13,000-plus seats. Fans visit the bookstore satellites looking to purchase everything a Catamount fan could want: t-shirts, giant foam hands, ponchos, and essentials like water bottles, hats, and gloves.

“We try to make the stadium store a one-stop shop for everyone,” said Smith.

Streamlined preparation and increased sales

With the Surface Pro, the WCU bookstore has been able to increase game-day revenues. The light weight laptop transforms the entire MBS POS into a complete on-the-go retail suite. Associates can access everything from inventory to customer payment information right at the stadium.

Before the Surface Pro, WCU processed its stadium business manually. That meant Smith dedicated long hours to selecting and sorting the merchandise they hoped to sell before each event. It was difficult to gauge what fans might need in advance. If it rained, for instance, the satellite would need more ponchos and umbrellas on hand. “Set-up used to take so much time,” said Smith. “Days!”

With the Surface Pro, the preparation process is so streamlined that Smith can focus on ensuring Catamount fans find what they need. She can review sales from previous game-days and stock items that proved popular in the past.

I used to have to be register-focused, because of the set-up. Now I can focus on customers.

— Kati Smith

A mobile retail suite enhances customer experience

Without the MBS Surface Pro POS, tracking sales and inventory consumed far more of Smith’s attention during the games. She couldn’t focus as much on customers’ immediate needs.

“I used to have to be much more register-focused, because of the set-up,” said Smith. “Now I can focus on customers.”

A diverse cohort of university stakeholders turns up to tailgate and cheer on game days: students, administrators, faculty, alumni, community members and high-profile donors.

“It’s very important for us to provide excellent service,” said Smith. “Game days are when our bookstore has the greatest interaction with the community. It’s also when we’re most likely to interact with high-profile customers like donors,” said Smith.

Shorter wait-times and happier fans

Smith said that lines at the stadium satellite were sometimes overwhelming before the MBS Surface Pro POS. Now, fans buy what they want faster — and use a wider variety of payment methods. Stadium associates can accept any form of tender: credit cards, SFA and student IDs.

Because the MBS Surface Pro comes outfitted with the same top-notch security WCU has in-store — Worldpay Gateway with P2P encryption — the store has complete confidence in the safety of its satellite customers’ financial information.

With shorter lines and better selection, fans enjoy a frictionless stadium shopping experience that boosts sales and customer satisfaction.

“Now the only place with a long line is the concession stand,” said Smith.

That’s something that can give Catamount fans even more reason to cheer.

About Western Carolina University:

  • Enrollment: 11,043
  • Location: Cullowhee, North Carolina
  • Local obsession: NCAA Division 1 football
  • Stadium: seats 13,742
  • Mascot: Catamount

Microsoft © Surface Pro POS:

  • Supports the entire MBS POS application suite on-the-go
  • Streamlines bookstore satellite set-up
  • Permits customer–focused stadium service
  • Lets satellites offer wider range of merchandise
  • Reduces customer wait-times
  • Enhances Catamount fan experience