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More Than 120 Years Old, Texas’ University Co-op Innovates to Delight Digital-First Shoppers

Over its 123-year history, University Co-op at the University of Texas at Austin has grown into one of the country’s biggest independent campus stores. The Co-op’s Austin store sells school-themed apparel and accessories, textbooks, other course materials, art supplies and more. The retailer is a nonprofit, with all profits invested in scholarships, events, student organizations and other initiatives. The campus store’s autonomy enables it to quickly adapt to the needs of students and the community.


COMPANY

University Co-op

LOCATION

Austin, Texas

INDUSTRY

Retail (Campus bookstores)

EMPLOYEES

250-500

NUMBER OF USERS

120

SYSTEMS REPLACED

Celerant Retail Commerce Software
Sequoia Retail Systems

NETSUITE PRODUCTS IMPLEMENTED

NetSuite ERP
NetSuite POS
SuiteCommerce Advanced
SuiteCommerce InStore
Bronto Marketing Platform

IMPLEMENTATION PARTNER

NetSuite Professional Services

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“The Co-op in our over 120-year history has been in a lot of different businesses, and we think our system is flexible enough to support the next thing that reveals itself.” Leslie Smith, VP of Marketing and Merchandising, University Co-op

More Than a Campus Bookstore

An Austin instution
Just about every UT Austin student has shopped at the Co-op for textbooks and school supplies since it opened in 1896. Today, Longhorns-themed merchandise accounts for about 75% of revenue, and sales spike dramatically on football game days. The store’s ecommerce site has also fueled growth in recent years, reaching alumni across Texas and beyond.
First solution fails
As textbooks revenue fell due to cheaper digital alternatives, the Co-op had to focus on other product categories. The business’ dated systems struggled to support full-service retail, so it implemented retail software from Celerant Technology. However, integrating the intial system with Celerant resulted in inaccurate inventory data and costing issues.
Single source of data
To eliminate these data issues and better serve customers, University Co-op moved to a unified platform. NetSuite provides a single source of data, managing all inventory and orders—including rentals and ebooks—financials, ecommerce and point-of-sale. Since switching, the retailer has reduced accounting and IT headcount while online revenue has jumped 45%.
Continuous improvement
The Co-op is leveraging its new system to drive efficiency gains, like fulfilling online orders from the warehouse instead of the store. The business is also exploring ways to improve the online experience and researching unconventional product categories that could drive future growth.

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