We have many Booklog stores as customers now (over 120), and I have noticed some trends/habits of the most successful Timber users:

  • Sales build slowly over time -- as a result of continuously engaging with past customers (plus having new customers finding you).  It's not enough to hope that past customers will automatically find their way back.  You need to find ways to keep your store at the forefront of their minds.  Also, with just a few rare exceptions, all Timber stores see web sales growth for the first four years.
     
  • Find reasons to promote your store:
    • Incoming Freshman need caps/t-shirts/etc -- more than just textbooks!   Inform them during orientation, and send emails out over the summer before they arrive.
    • Promote gear to commemorate sporting events
    • Send out email promotions at the start of each sporting season -- to the team members and the fans
    • Hit up your alumni a few times per year with email blasts (homecoming, holidays, etc...)
    • Carry apparal for campus teams (rugby, soccer, tennis), and work with the coaches to be the go-to source for teamwear.
    • Holiday specials
    • Alert your Seniors and their families about Graduation Invitations and Diploma Frames
    • Let your customers know about an exciting title which is about to be released -- and offer to take pre-orders for it
       
  • Once you have a reason --> pick a method to promote:
    • Having an opt-in mailing list (that is triggered on a successful checkout)
    • Engage them on Facebook with in-store only promotions
    • Sending out a monthly or quarterly email blast about what is new in the store, or promotions that correspond to holidays/events.
    • Encouraging customer-interaction through: 
      • Hosting author-events
      • Hosting book-clubs
      • Offer discussion-panels
      • Facebook posts (about store-news or novel products)
      • Make printed materials available that promote the website (bookmarks, business cards, signs, etc)
      • Have costume/cosplay contests and events.
    • Customer loyalty programs -- and letting folks know that their Website sales count toward their loyalty bonus.
    • Host charitable drives:  like acting as a collection point for your local:
      • Humane Society
      • Toys for Tots
      • Parent-Teacher Associations
      • Salvation Army
      • Food Donations
         
  • Give customers a reason to come back to your site often:
    • Post upcoming events
    • Make sure that your Campus Registration System and Website have easy-to-find links which point to your website
    • Promote new/unusual/exciting products
    • Send an email blast with an (expiring) coupon for free-shipping
    • Sell Graduation Announcements and Stationary -- these can be customizable on your Timber website.
    • Promote store-specific products:   logo-wear, diploma frames, and other school-specific merchandise
    • A great example is:  www.rizzolibookstore.com  (their book-rotation is changed weekly, as are their Events/News)
    • Send an annual blast to previous customers with a "customer loyalty coupon"
       
  • Engage your local community, and encourage them to "support their local bookstore". You might think that encouraging local folks to shop your website, will decrease your in-store sales.  On the contrary: the people that shop your website tend to dislike brick-and-mortar stores, even if a local option is available to them.  They wanted to buy online, and probably would not have come down to your store.
     
  • Partner with other College departments
    • Offer to provide space for course-packets or other course-specific consumable items (scrubs, uniforms, culinary arts gear, etc...) 
    • Help deter costs by allowing other departments to list inventory and sell through the website. Invite athletics, graduation regalia, theater/events or alumi departments to piggy back on a system that already does everything needed to complete sales. 
    • Sell tickets to performances, exhibitions, and events like cooking class-demonstrations