Does Bigger Mean Bigger in the College Bookstore Business?

As a virtual bookstore provider, part of our philosophy is that you really don’t need a large physical footprint to sell textbooks. So, sometimes I grapple with how much exhibit space to get at the education conferences we attend (one booth is 10′ by 10′). ¬†Does an innovative education technology company that is trying to change mindsets about the business model of a college bookstore really need 800 square feet to get the message across? That is a question that you, the college administrator, would probably be able to help me answer. But let’s agree that selling to CFOs is a little different than selling to students.

At a recent conference, as I walked the hall, I did note some organizations with build-outs that proved Rome can be built in a day. ¬†Just one question–who is paying for all this? Yes, the company, but more than likely the school and their students. So, as an educational eCommerce company that is in a growth stage, does buying more booth space show that we are bigger?

The irony is, we are bigger because the market has finally caught up to the importance of online bookstore services for physical and digital textbook delivery (AKA, students are fleeing brick-and-mortars for online retailers in their search for cheap textbooks). If I defer to my retail 101, the bottom line is that every square foot of physical space better be performing darn well. Otherwise, eCommerce 101 will tell you to put it on the Web. And there, I will be judging sales performance per square inch. We also need to account for the cost of warehousing. What does it cost to store and ship all this overhead?

I’m pleased to say that the Akademos booth has been packed with customers stopping by to say hello. If I had to judge our performance per square foot, I’d say we exceeded projections by a mile.

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