Futuristic bookstore at University of San Diego meets student expectations for flexible purchasing experience

New campus store by Nebraska Book Company focuses on interactivity and convenience
By: | Issue: February, 2016
January 13, 2016

Part of the University of San Diego’s forward-thinking mission is to ensure that all campus facilities are capable of serving not only today’s students, but tomorrow’s students as well. Over the past two and a half years, USD leaders have applied this philosophy to redesigning the campus bookstore.

“Course materials come from a wide range of locations now,” says Andre Mallie, executive director of auxiliary services for USD. “We need to react to those changes.”

Two and a half years ago, Mallie and his team began planning for a fresh start in the form of a completely new bookstore on the 8,000-student Southern California campus. This new space would have the size, focus and technology integration that could sustain for 10 to 15 years.

“Part of this journey was to find a partner that would work with us and share a common vision with us,” says Mallie.

Mallie also wanted a partner that was willing to be flexible and customize on the local level. Additionally, the partner should have expertise in creating new concepts and implementing the latest technology. Nebraska Book Company Inc., which had been a course materials supplier for USD for many years, fulfilled all of those requirements.

“Nebraska Book Company had the passion to move us forward and to be innovative,” he says.

Nebraska Book Company serves as a partner to independent college retailers, providing textbook selection, store operations and e-commerce services. The company’s College Store Design division worked with the USD team to create and execute the vision for the new bookstore, which opened in fall 2015.

Named University of San Diego Torero store, the new bookstore occupies just 6,665 square feet, less than half of the 19,000 square feet of the previous location.

Historically, much of the space in higher ed bookstores is occupied by books. Yet Mallie points out that about 90 percent of book sales are made during just 10 to 12 weeks of the year.

“We now house books in a ‘swing space’ right outside the store during the rush time at the beginning of the semesters,” says Mallie. “The rest of the time, books are available on demand.”

This new configuration is what allowed for the reduction in size, and subsequent major cost savings in facilities operating costs. It also allows for greater creativity in the actual bookstore space.

“The bookstore is now a place where people want to go,” says Mallie. “It is attractive and interesting, like retail stores in a mall.”

Among the layers of interactive experience is a digital dressing room, where customers can try on items of clothing virtually. Customers take photos of themselves “wearing” clothes and even email the images to themselves or friends and family.

The former USD bookstore had 12 point-of-sale cash registers, and now there are four. Staff wander the floor with mobile POS machines, speeding up the checkout process. The mobility theme is continued through the store fixtures, which are not anchored and can be moved and reshaped for decorating for the holidays or any other need. Touch-screen panels around the bookstore allow customers to search for products on the store’s website, which has a great selection of products.

“The store of tomorrow needs to have an e-commerce presence,” says Mallie. “Nebraska Book Company’s platform has a technologically advanced e-commerce component.”

Students and staff have responded positively to the new USD bookstore.

“We have created a very futuristic store,” says Mallie. “This would not be possible without Nebraska Book Company as a partner that was willing to work with us and customize to our needs.”

For more information, visit http://nebook.com/college-store-design