Magazine Article | May 22, 2013

Follett Perfects Planning In A Volatile Sales Environment

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies
Matt Pillar

By Matt Pillar, chief editor

June 2013 Integrated Solutions For Retailers

A new software implementation is helping the world’s largest college bookstore operator to reduce out-of-stocks and to manage unique demand stimuli.

As college bookstores go, Follett Higher Education Group is the big man on campus. The company operates close to 1,000 campus stores, spanning the gamut from the likes of Notre Dame and Stanford to hundreds of local community colleges nationwide. It’s the 67th largest e-commerce retailer in the U.S., boasting e-commerce sales growth in the double-digit range. Follett also operates a call center and supports several catalog mailings per year. While textbooks account for much of the $2.2 billion privately held retailer’s sales volume, its stores also sell emblematic apparel and gifts, computer products, and school supplies.

Considering the family-owned company has been doing business for more than 140 years (it claims the distinction of 7th-oldest retailer in the U.S.), Follett is surprisingly progressive with its retail systems infrastructure. For instance, it’s been facilitating order online, pickup in store — which many retailers struggle with today — for more than a decade. In fact, more than half of its orders are placed online and picked up in stores today, often in the maddening back-to-school rush.