Michigan Tech’s Merchandising Operations Manager (Campus Store/University Images) Shane “Sully” Sullivan, was interviewed for an article in the July/August Issue of The College Store Magazine, published by the National Association of College Stores. The article, titled “Reaching Freshman before they’re Freshman” (page 54), explored ways campuses have reached out to students before they move onto campus, during their first few weeks as students, and maintaining a relationship with students once they begin their courses. In the article, Sully explains his department’s “opt-in” strategy for notifying customers of the store’s services, sales, and promotions. Having customers voluntarily sign up for the marketing email service (Google group HuskyDeals-l) instead of forcing customers to opt-out guarantees that the customers are agreeable to receiving the emails and makes it much more likely that they will use the promotions and purchase products. Sully goes on to say that his department limits the amount of marketing emails sent to customers to two per promotion event; a main promotion announcement and a reminder that’s sent out a couple weeks later. Ways that Sully and his staff spread the word about their opt-in email list include mentioning the service in meetings with other department members, adding promotional flyers highlighting the service to customer’s bags at check-out, and engaging new students as they are on orientation campus tours. Sully and his staff are happy to engage students and staff in the store or around campus and are always looking for feedback as to how they can improve their services and cater better to their customers.
Recently, Michigan Tech’s Merchandising department (the Bookstore and University Images) chose to eliminate the printed catalog of Tech apparel and accessories and instead only sell its products on its online store. The online store is the best source for up to date products that can be purchased at the Michigan Tech stores. In the catalogs’ last several years, the Merchandising department was producing almost 40,000 copies that were mailed to alumni and friends across the country costing the department from $15,000 to $20,000 a year in production and postage. Transitioning fully to the website has made it less of a hassle for potential customers to check and see what products are still being offered and in what varieties making off-campus shopping easy.
The physical catalog became steadily less customer friendly when showing products that were often no longer available at the store when customers tried to order them through the post or over the phone. By discontinuing the catalog, people will have a more enjoyable shopping experience while using the online store. Customers are now able to access an accurate representation of the Bookstore’s physical stock. Over time, the percentage of orders received from the website reached the point where it was no longer practical to continue with the printed catalog. The website is able to be updated much faster to better reflect what can be found in the stores and online. Overall, the website became an easier interface for potential customers to see what is available, so the decision was made to discontinue the physical catalog.
You can visit Michigan Tech’s online merchandise store here: http://www.bookstore.mtu.edu/michtech2/