Recently, Barnes & Noble College’s Vice President of Marketing Ken Wincko was interviewed by Joe Keenan with the Total Retail Talks podcast. They discussed the collegiate retail experience and how retailers can revamp their mobile app to better appeal to Gen Z students.
Mr. Wincko’s expertise in marketing and communications has been nationally recognized. As an expert in account-based marketing, lead nurturing and demand generation, he shares his strategic insight on marketing to Generation Z students and enhancing on-campus collegiate retail.
Today, Mr. Wincko discusses why college stores need an omnichannel marketing strategy, how to increase student engagement and his best practices for launching a college store mobile app.
At Barnes & Noble College, our mission is to serve the needs of higher education and to be a complete support system for students, faculty, parents, alumni and fans. Until recently, collegiate retail had experienced very little disruption. However, now the entire retail industry is amid a digital transformation, and everyone, including college stores, must be ready for the next era of retail.
Savvy retailers are evolving with consumer expectations and prioritizing customer experience. All stores from large, big-box retailers to college stores must be prepared to engage customers with a streamlined website and app, a vibrant social media presence, a personalized customer experience, and easy access to promotions and useful lifestyle tools.
Gen Z students are the core demographic on college campuses. These students grew up with easy and immediate access to technology. They do not remember a time before the internet, social media or smartphones. All of this contributes to their view of the college store and their expectations for a great customer experience.
Gen Z students want to be served where, when and how it is most convenient for them. In a large-scale shopping behavior study with 46,000 participants, 73 percent of US consumers use multiple channels when making purchases. For college stores to be successful, they need to provide a unified online and offline omnichannel experience.
Generation Z students, more than any other generation, have specific omnichannel retail expectations. A streamlined digital experience that connects to the shopper online and in-store connects to the heart of Gen Z’s desire for convenience.
Students are busier and more easily distracted. This makes it harder to attract their attention. Having a connected and seamless multi-touch approach is critical for success.
For BNC, collegiate retail is much more than just shopping: the college store is the first step of a student’s college life. Our stores blend the world of commerce and education. We use advanced technology to simplify the student shopping experience and build in-store experiences that promote a community of learning. We offer more than just retail. Our stores are a campus community hub.
Mobile usage continues to grow with every demographic, including Gen Z. The amount of business that transacts on mobile has eclipsed desktop and tablet usage. Consumers check their phones every day, multiple times a day. It’s a massive channel of communication and the opportunity for collegiate retailers to engage Gen Z students is undeniably enormous.
According to BNC research:
While all of our channels are important, the mobile app is a cornerstone of our strategy. Our customizable mobile app has the power to engage students in compelling experiences anytime, anywhere. From the moment students are accepted to their college or university to graduation, we leverage the mobile app in a wide variety of ways that enhance the overall student experience.
At Barnes & Noble College, we are a complete support system for colleges and universities — both from an academic and retail experience perspective. We act as a strategic partner to improve affordability, enhance access and improve academic outcomes, all while supporting the financial and branding goals of our college and university partners through best-in-class retail experiences. We have a very strong understanding of the collegiate retail space that has allowed us to create thriving retail businesses in communities across the country.
Click here to listen to the complete podcast. To discuss how our custom store solutions could benefit your campus, schedule a time to talk.