By Aimee Chanthadavong

To keep up with the times, as well as to keep disgruntled university students at bay – particularly at the start of semester when lining up for a textbook is the last thing on their minds – The Co-op Bookshop has launched its ‘window shop’ experience.

The first of a series of new multichannel initiatives by the company, the window shop experience enables customers to use their smartphones to scan corresponding QR codes, pay for their products via their phones before having the books delivered free to them at home.

Speaking to RetailBiz, Greg Smith, chief customer officer, said while its part the company’s strategic multichannel expansion the aim was to create a new retail experience for its customers who are mainly tech-driven 18 to 24-year-old students.

“It’s about the experience. If your first experience at a store is all about waiting in line then you’re unlikely to want to keep going back. So therefore we wanted to make the experience more worthwhile with one of the main focus on wanting to reduce queues. We also wanted to add value to the brand so we thought this would be a perfect fit. It’s about making Co-op more than just a book shop,” he said.

Additionally, the QR technology behind the initiative is installed with an extra tracking mechanism to allow the company to monitor who their customers are and what they are after.

“We can track each purchase so we’ll know what book was sold, what device was used to buy the products, what time they did that and whether they bought any addition products so we can see their total basket size and we’ll be measuring and monitoring,” Smith said.

The window shop is currently being piloted at the Co-op’s Macquarie University store and there are plans to extend the concept to its 41 stores nationwide. It features 36 textbooks from the top 25 course subjects for second and third year students.

Smith says the reason there are no first year books is because as a first-time customer, they would need to line-up at the register to sign-up as a Co-op member.

“It’s a bit like priority check-in at the airport or movies for second and third year students where they can buy their books in their own time and space.”

Commenting on the company’s future, Smith said the company is embracing the changing landscape by delivering different experiences to customers.

“We’re beefing up our online store with our ebooks offering and upgrading our website. Our social sites are also just about to go through a large change and we’ll be launching 40 individual campus-focus social sites. We’ll do this by have continual conversation with each campus our stores are located in so we can see what direction to take the business.”