Oakland Community College Bookstore Updates Pricing/Services in Competitive Market

When OCC students return to classes September 2 and visit the OCC Raiders’ Store to check textbook prices, they will now be able to compare the College’s pricing to online competitors.

Known as “dynamic pricing,” this tool allows the bookstores the flexibility to purchase books from various resources at a greater discount and pass the savings on to students and help better prepare them for class.

“Our goal is to provide students with the tools they need to be successful in class, at a competitive price, with the best service possible,” said Maria McCarthy, auxiliary services manager. “’Shopping local’ is hot in retail for good reason. When students shop elsewhere for books, the College loses that revenue to online warehouses. All of the proceeds generated by our bookstores stay in the College supporting student programs, scholarships, and campus events as well as the general fund and operation costs.”

In addition to improved pricing, the OCC Raiders Store piloted three new programs to help students succeed: a textbook alternative program, “Roundup for Scholarships,” and an in-store electronic support and repair service.

“Dynamic pricing” was developed through a software program called Verba and piloted by OCC in spring/summer. Students who use dynamic pricing can check prices online or directly at the campus bookstores.

“At the launch of the program, approximately 65% percent of the bookstore’s prices were competitive. As the program grows, the competitive offerings will increase,” said McCarthy.

Students who purchase their textbooks from OCC can buy them as soon as they are available in the College stores or order online from the bookstore and have them delivered to their home or any the College’s five campus locations.

In addition to improved pricing, a textbook alternative program will be piloted this fall with a Political Science class at the Highland Lakes campus.

“Studies show 34% of students don’t buy or share books due to prices, and 42% don’t purchase books until a week into their class,” said McCarthy. “With the textbook alternative program, when a student registers for the class they automatically receive an email providing direct access to the faculty selected eBook before the semester begins. Faculty can start the semester knowing all of their students are prepared for class with the required materials.”

The eBook is free starting two weeks before the first day of class through the first week and half, after which the student can opt-out or continue with the eBook at a low cost. Students also have the option to buy a loose-leaf copy (with proof of purchase of the eBook) for approximately $20.

Nationally, studies show student success and retention rates in courses using textbook alternative programs are 35-40% higher than those who do not use the program.

Electronic support offered as a “store-within-a-store.” This fall, computer and phone repair services will be offered within the Auburn Hills, Orchard Ridge and Southfield stores. Electronic service professionals will provide assistance with issues such as loading software, improving access, computer repair and phone/tablet screen repair/replacement.

The service is available to staff, faculty and students. The services are competitively priced with surrounding service providers. Hours for the repair store will be the same as the campus bookstores.

“Roundup for Scholarships” is another new program which began this summer. This student-to-student program allows all customers to “round-up” on each bookstore purchase, raising money for student scholarships. The program kickoff raised over $600 for the OCC Foundation and 100% of the money goes directly to support students.

“With so many great programs, we want our students to shop our OCC Raider Stores and not elsewhere,” said McCarthy. “Working in partnership with our College faculty and staff, we can provide additional support as well as excellent service. We want to help our students be better prepared for class and increase the rate of student success.”

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