Reengineering the College Bookstore
The process of purchasing the correct textbooks in a timely manner for college classes has always been problematic. And now, with online bookstores such as Amazon competing directly with the college bookstore for students’ purchases, the college bookstore is under pressure to justify its existence.
But college bookstores have one big advantage over their competitors: they have access to students’ data. In other words, once a student has registered for classes, the bookstore knows exactly what books that student will need for the upcoming term. To leverage this advantage and take advantage of new technologies, the bookstore wants to implement a new process that will make purchasing books through the bookstore advantageous to students. Though they may not be able to compete on price, they can provide other advantages, such as reducing the time it takes to find the books and the ability to guarantee that the book is the correct one for the class. In order to do this, the bookstore will need to undertake a process redesign.
The goal of the process redesign is simple: capture a higher percentage of students as customers of the bookstore. After diagramming the existing process and meeting with student focus groups, the bookstore comes up with a new process. In the new process, the bookstore utilizes information technology to reduce the amount of work the students need to do in order to get their books. In this new process, the bookstore sends the students an e-mail with a list of all the books required for their upcoming classes. By clicking a link in this e-mail, the students can log into the bookstore, confirm their books, and purchase the books. The bookstore will then deliver the books to the students.