Case Study: Brewton-Parker College

Following years of operating an institutional store, Brewton-Parker College took its bookstore operations completely online in 2011. After settling on a vendor, the school eventually realized the pricing options their now-former online store presented weren't in their students' best interests. Brewton-Parker went back to the drawing board, and chose to partner with MBS Direct as their course material fulfillment solution. The difference in both pricing and all-around service to students has been revolutionary for the school.

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Brewton-Parker College Gives Students More Titles and Options, for Less

The initial transition online

For years, Brewton-Parker College's bookstore was a one-woman show. When Business Division Chair Lynn Addison's role at the college changed to include teaching classes, she realized it just wouldn't be feasible to keep running an on-campus store.

After a trial run with a different provider, Brewton-Parker returned to bid for an online course material fulfillment partner in 2012. They selected a provider they would go on to partner with for the next two years.

"At the time — as is typical in our type of market — we picked the easiest solution with the ones who could do what we thought we needed," Addison said. "Things were good and the service [for the school] was there to a point, but we noticed there were issues on the student side with quantities or availability. But this happens when you have a school like us: sometimes we have late enrollment, or a professor changes an order."

But while the school chalked occasional availability issues up to the nature of their adoption process, Addison had a more difficult time accepting the fact that titles in their online store were often priced much higher than they were if students ordered them directly from the publisher. "The alarm went off that we needed to watch these things."

Brewton-Parker reviewed several issues, including whether the school's faculty were choosing more expensive titles or if the school was receiving too high of a commission on sales. While these factors all can play a part, Addison said that their provider was missing one important piece of the course material cost puzzle: format options.

"In this day and age — even at a small school like ours — we need to be aware of all the types of content delivery out there," she said. "At times they were not available [with our former partner]. We couldn't get what we wanted like rental, or there was a delay in getting them. Eventually our acting CFO at that point said ‘this was crazy, we need to look into it further.'"

There was a company that really knew all types of schools and all types of issues, and had spent years perfecting its craft. So when we were ready to make a change, we went with MBS Direct.

— Lynn Addison

Lower prices and greater availability

Brewton-Parker began shopping around for an online bookstore provider again, and began closer conversations with MBS Direct. Representatives visited the school in Georgia, and also brought administrators to MBS headquarters in Columbia, Missouri, where they could see MBS Direct's warehouse and vast inventory.

"That proved there was a company that really knew all types of schools and all types of issues, and had spent years perfecting its craft," Addison said. "So when we were ready to make a change, we went with MBS Direct."

Since their opening term with an MBS Direct Online Bookstore in 2014, Brewton-Parker has seen a dramatic change in the options and pricing it can offer students. With more used books, rentals, eBooks and Marketplace options, Brewton-Parker saved its students more than $19,000 in 2015 alone.

And with MBS Direct's automated warehouse system stocked with 320,000 print titles on hand at any time and more than 370,000 digital titles available for adoption, quantity and delivery time have not been issues for students.

"With a larger company that has expertise with online fulfillment, the experience has been perfect," Addison said. "When students buy books, they have plenty of options, and that's what's important. Typically, at Brewton-Parker, it's not the student buying the book: it's a family member using financial aid or other funding. Everybody's happy."

About Brewton-Parker College:

  • FTE: about 400
  • Private four-year liberal arts Christian school, supported by Georgia Baptist Convention
  • Previous online bookstore provider struggled to offer enough materials for all students at affordable prices, prompting a change

MBS Direct Online Bookstore:

  • Offers reduced pricing on an expansive inventory of titles
  • Saves Brewton-Parker College students up to 95% off the list price of titles through options including Marketplace, rental and digital
  • Expertise in procurement and fulfillment mean enough quantities for students, delivered on time
  • Online model serves students on- and off-campus