The BYU Bookstore changed its brand name to the BYU Store in April 2014 in an effort to improve brand perception, customer experience and reputation.
“We want to make sure that people understand we sell more than books,” said David Hunt, BYU Store director. “We are a retail store.”
Hunt noted the rebranding is an international approach focusing on more than the students and faculty of BYU but also on customers around the world who want quality products including Cougarwear.
Increasing e-commerce revenue
Having a stronger online presence is one of the goals behind Hunt and his staff’s current efforts.
“We’re trying to look at Amazon and other companies,” said Hunt, who noted that he and his staff have also asked themselves what they can learn from other successful online companies in efforts to improve the BYUStore.com experience. “We’re trying to add more products to the website. We’ve added textbooks to make it more convenient.”
BYU Store floor plans have changed
Parts of the BYU Store have been rearranged for a smoother customer shopping experience.
“We’re trying to group everything together,” Hunt said of the changes made to bring all school supplies, like notebooks and art supplies, to the third floor, which has only had textbooks and electronics prior to this summer.
Children’s Cougarwear and children’s books have been moved to the main floor.
“The Distribution Center will stay the same. We lease them space,” said Hunt of the LDS clothing store.
Wells Fargo, another entity which the BYU Store also leases space, will remain on the main floor with the candy store and Twilight Zone.
There are no floor plans or diagrams online or in print for customers to visually understand the new layout of the store.
The ‘why’ behind the changes
BYU Store’s rebranding may seem sudden to customers familiar with the BYU Bookstore brand, but Hunt emphasized the changes were made with valid reasoning.
“We’ve done surveys. We’ve gotten feedback. We’ve looked at other universities and what they’re doing,” Hunt said.
BYU alumnus Lamar McKinnon, who currently resides in Colorado with his wife and three children, noticed the name change in a recent visit to the BYU Store with his family.
“We saw that you’re completely changing everything. I just figured you’re in transition. I understand retail has to change,” said McKinnon, who graduated in 1996. “It’ll still be the Bookstore for us.”
Hunt referenced the economic downturn in recent years to the store’s efforts to improve sales and image.
“Since 2008, most retail operations have been challenged economically,” Hunt said. “We’re trying to keep pace.”
Internal and external efforts to rebrand
With the goal of improving customer service and overall communication, employees have received vigorous training to answer customer questions, Hunt said.
“We are working with social media to get the word out. We’ve got people working on that,” Hunt said of efforts to connect with the student customer base.
BYU Store has also talked to the BYU faculty and staff to inform them of the changes being made.
“We have a rebranding effort. It’s not just changing the name. It’s how you’re perceived. It’s better customer service. We also sponsor BYU Sports Nation,” Hunt said of their relationship with the BYUtv sports show hosted by Spencer Linton and Jarom Jordan. “You have to continually look at ways to communicate that change.”
Grand reopening set for Sept. 4
Hunt and his staff will have a grand reopening on Sept. 4, 2014, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m., complete with activities and giveaways to celebrate the changes and kick off the fall semester.
“We want to turn value customers into affinity customers,” Hunt said of BYU Store’s goals. “We’re hoping to have affinity customers who buy regardless of price.”
For McKinnon, his family will keep coming back regardless of changes made with one exception.
“As long as you have chocolate-covered cinnamon bears,” McKinnon said with a smile. “You take those away, and you’ll be in big trouble.”