Follett Features

Follett’s Shop by Author Program Transforms the Shopping Experience at the UNA Bookstore


WESTCHESTER, IL, Dec 5, 2017

For students entering their first year at a college or university, a trip to the campus store is one of the first things to check off their to-do list.  Stepping foot into a space that exudes campus pride is an exciting and welcoming feeling, yet it’s often accompanied by the sometimes-daunting task of finding all the materials needed for the upcoming term.

As the largest campus store retailer in North America, Follett recognizes the importance of helping students find what they need quickly and easily.  A student-focused and hassle-free store experience is key, especially during those busy first few weeks of the term.  To support this, several Follett campus stores are making a noteworthy change to their text departments - arranging textbooks on shelves alphabetically by author instead of by course. While this might seem like a fairly simple and straightforward change, Follett’s Shop by Author arrangement actually delivers a ripple effect of benefits to students.  

As one of Follett’s Shop by Author campuses, the University of North Alabama (UNA) Bookstore can attest to the arrangement’s success.  After implementing Shop by Author for the fall 2016 semester, one thing was apparent right away:  students were in and out of the text department much more quickly.  With the ability to access their entire course materials list in-store or via their mobile device, students were able to begin with the first author on their list and move through the entire department in one pass.  No longer did they need to jump from course to course to find the titles they were looking for. 

UNA Bookstore Manager Griffin Hite explained how the new arrangement helped simplify the textbook-finding process. “The Shop by Author course materials list removes all guesswork for students, since they are no longer forced to know the department, course, and section of a class they are enrolled in to ensure that they receive the correct materials.”

He supported his point with this example:  Under the old system, where course materials were organized by department, course and section, the title “Publication Manual of APA” would reside in four different locations in the UNA Bookstore text department and have 14 associated shelf-tags (a small sign that describes the product, course and purchase options). Under the Shop by Author program, the same book has one location and one shelf-tag. 

“After implementing Shop by Author, it was interesting to watch the expressions on returning students’ faces to gauge their initial reactions.  A grimace here, a raised brow there, and a lot of head scratching took place as the student course schedule was compared to the new shelving arrangement.  In situation after situation, once our team explained how to access the shopping list and then provided a quick overview of how to find a book, students began expressing that they no longer needed assistance.  I even had one young lady express to me that the new course materials layout was, ‘the raddest thing she had seen’,” said Griffin. 

In order for Shop by Author to be accepted, embraced and understood by the UNA campus, the store team made sure to clearly communicate the benefits to faculty, staff and students.  This included utilizing social media outlets, partnering with student orientation groups, creating handouts with step-by-step instructions and a sharing a fun how-to video via YouTube.

“Communication is of utmost importance. The time you dedicate to ensuring your team, the campus, and customers understand the program and how to access the shopping list will ultimately lay the groundwork for your success launching the program,” Griffin added.

Not only does Shop by Author simplify the customer’s journey through the text department, it reduces the number of unnecessary special orders for customers who couldn’t find what they were looking for under the old system.  And, while Shop by Author lends itself to customer autonomy, the arrangement also makes it easier for campus store team members to quickly assist those who may need extra help finding a title.

Naturally, Shop by Author also led to significant space savings for the UNA Bookstore. The linear feet gained by Shop by Author allowed the team to repurpose the space for course-related supplies and merchandise, providing even more product choices to support student success.

With benefits as apparent as this at UNA, some may be wondering why all Follett campus stores don’t hop on the Shop by Author bandwagon.  In order to implement Shop by Author, stores must have three things: good Wi-Fi coverage, Connect Once (middleware that supports Follett’s campus integrations) and Follett Discover Access (one of four Follett Discover modules that allow students to purchase and access course materials within a learning management system).  Having these three things in place is what allows students to access their course materials shopping list while in the store and move quickly through the alphabetical arrangement.

Now in year two of Shop by Author, the team at the UNA Bookstore continues to find happy customers throughout their text department – customers who are not so overwhelmed by the thought of finding their course materials.   As more Follett campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada implement Follett Discover and make the transition to Shop by Author, students can leave their hesitations at the door and enjoy a quick, convenient, and yes - “rad” - shopping experience.