By: Keri Luise, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Towson.edu
Towson’s University Store has a new textbook valet service for students in order to maximize limited sales floor space and increase textbook sales.
“[UStore Valet] is a new way to select your books,” said Katie Simmons-Barth, the UStore’s marketing and retail sales supervisor. “You no longer have to search for your titles and authors. You just bring in your book list, give it to a textbook valet and the valet will pull your books for you. The valet will then go over what they have selected for you, and assist you with any questions that you may have. You then take your textbooks up to the front of the store and purchase them. Print, valet pulls, purchase…done. It is that easy.”
The UStore is finding ways to alleviate students’ stress about finding their books, making it easier for students to find their course materials.
“This system will allow for a more personalized and focused experience,” Simmons-Barth said. “A lot of times students will come into the store, get confused and leave without asking for help or getting what they need. This leads to potentially purchasing the wrong materials, or being behind in their course work, and we don’t want that for our students. With Textbook Valet, we are automatically going to be helping each customer and getting them everything they are required to use for their course.”
The service began in December, and according to Technical Systems Coordinator Ray Monczewski, “it will continue until another method comes along to improve our process.”
“The service is available to all just by entering the University Store,” Monczewski said. “From the Course Materials Desk, all customers will be serviced by the Textbook Valet.”
There will be no additional charge for the valet service. Students will only be paying for the course materials they plan on purchasing.
“This actually may, and should, save students money in the long run,” said Stacy Elofir, the UStore’s director. “Think about getting the right book the first time. Being able to ask your valet if the rental option is the best pricing choice, reviewing the price compare tool before you purchase and again make the best decision for you the first time.”
Sophomore Jack Rudman believes that “the access to this service could be beneficial to students if executed correctly,” and “for some, it could be easier to have someone else find all the books for them.”
“I think students will definitely save time using this service because the UStore has a lot of the textbooks needed for classes,” Rudman said.
According to Monczewski, aside from assisting the customer’s needs and offering the service they expect, the main goal of the valet service is to “prepare our store and staff to utilize limited floor space.”
The UStore is in the process of slowly downsizing in preparation for a remodel of the University Union in the next year or so. The valet service is the store’s way of still providing convenient service to students during the changes.
“The University Store will be temporarily moved upstairs to the Potomac Ballroom,” Elofir said. “This will be significantly less space for at least a year, and we have to think of creative ways to still offer all of our student services in a much smaller space.”
According to Simmons-Barth, the new look has already begun for the course materials in the store. There is “new signage and an entire new theme happening in our textbook area,” Simmons-Barth said.
The University Store has many options for their customers to ensure that students have the right materials and even the right resources for all purchases.
“We have the Textbook Advance program that defers the payment on book purchase to later in the semester,” Simmons-Barth said. “We also have Direct Access which offers online materials directly to students who opt in for the courses that are registered under Direct Access. These materials contain study manuals, additional content and the ability to interact with your course materials in a way that has never been done before. We also textbook price compare and price match textbooks.”
Elofir indicated that customer service is a main priority at the UStore.
“We evaluate our business practices regularly and try to make improvements based on need and customer feedback,” Elofir said. “Our goal is to offer amazing customer service to the Towson University community through unique products, competitive pricing, and streamlined services.”