For students getting ready to head off to college, few purchases are more important than the personal computer. From researching and writing papers to staying connected to family and friends, a computer or tablet is a must-have item for academic and social success on campus. With so many options to choose from, how does a student go about choosing the right one? With product descriptions reading in terms like processor speeds, RAM, gigabytes and other technology lingo, it’s enough to frustrate just about anyone.
Fortunately, Barnes & Noble College made that decision a little easier by offering a crash course in what’s most important to keep in mind when choosing a laptop or tablet. This new educational program recently launched across 40 campuses via eye-catching, in-store displays, signage and other collateral that simplifies common tech terms and offers tips for making the best buying decision.
With a focus on four main functions – speed, memory, storage and style – Barnes & Noble College worked with its laptop and tablet vendors to identify which features best fit various work and life styles, and how each model ranks in terms of those attributes. Each function was given its own easily identifiable icon, so that once students understand what kind of device they might need, they can simply look at the tags on each model to see which one matches best.
“Not all students and parents are knowledgeable in the tech space, so choosing a personal computer for the first time can be overwhelming,” said Tamara Vostok, Manager, Consumer & New Media Marketing for Barnes & Noble College “Through this new program, the campus store can help them decide which machine is going to be the best for them based on their unique habits, preferences and needs.”
For example, video editors, photographers or gamers who toggle from program to program as they work and play may want to invest in a laptop with a quick, powerful processor. Multitaskers who thrive on writing papers, listening to music and checking in on social media all at the same time should look into a device with plenty of memory. Those with large music collections may want something with ample storage space, whereas smaller storage will be just fine for those who choose to stream music more often. And best yet, students don’t have to sacrifice style for efficiency these days – even the slimmest, smallest devices boast plenty of battery life and computer power.
Students at Niagara County Community College (NCCC) in Sanborn, New York, found the program to be incredibly helpful. “Our students really took to this program,” said Bob Puma, bookstore manager at the Barnes & Noble at NCCC campus store “The in-store displays and informational signage were so helpful and really made it easy for students to compare and choose the technology that works best for them.”
While students typically purchase their laptops or tablets at the beginning of the school year, Puma said he saw a significant jump in sales in the spring semester. “We have a very defined window when students purchase their learning materials and technology at the beginning of each semester, so this program allowed us to really help students get everything they need – including laptops or tablets – use their financial aid and start the semester off on the right foot,” he said. “Since implementing this new program, our sales jumped 2.3 percent over last year – and I expect our fall semester to be even better.”
Barnes & Noble College campus stores are committed to acting as a social and academic ally for students through initiatives like I Speak Textbook, a program that launched earlier this year to help students better navigate the textbook purchasing process by educating them about the campus store’s offerings. The program uses engaging and humorous sketch videos, VIP Shopping Nights, emails, social media and more to ensure that students have all the information they needed to help them succeed academically.
Vostok sees this new laptop program as an extension of that initiative: “This fall we really focused on making sure that students understood their textbook options and how the campus store could be a resource for them,” she said. “So that made us want to look at other areas – like technology – where we could help our students make the best purchasing decisions. Students have enough stress in their lives, so our aim is to offer programs that can make the decision-making process as easy as possible.”