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 continuous engagement with past customers (plus 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.  With a few rare exceptions, 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.
    • Gear to commemorate sporting events
    • Send out email promotions at the start of each sporting season
    • Hit up your alumni a few times per year
    • Carry apparal for campus teams (rugby, soccer, tennis), and work with the coaches to be the go-to source for teamwear.
    • Holiday specials
    • Graduation Invitations and Diploma Frames
       
  • Once you have a reason --> pick a method to promote:
    • Having an opt-in mailing list (that is triggered on a successful checkout)
    • 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
      • book-clubs
      • discussion-panels
      • Facebook posts (about store-news or novel products)
      • printed materials promoting the website (bookmarks, business cards, signs, etc)
      • costume/cosplay contests
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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.