Customer Stories

Barnes & Noble College Writes the Book on Automation

Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC is a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble Education (NYSE: BNED) and a leading operator of college bookstores in the United States operating 773 campus bookstores to serve more than 6 million college students and faculty nationwide.

Barnes & Noble College (BNC) is more than just a bookstore operator. They’re a trusted and valued partner to the schools they serve, transcending the role of the traditional campus store by delivering an unmatched retail and digital education experience. They’ve always been a company of dreamers, asking “what can be” in order to help shape the future of higher education.

Passion Delivers Results!

Steve Welk, Senior Director of Loss Prevention, has to be very careful about resource allocation as his team is small. Steve recognized that he needed a solution that could do case, audit and incident management, and a tool that could amplify his modest team. And it needed to be a tool that could be shaped to accommodate non-standard requirements, like a college book buyback program. ThinkLP was a no brainer for Steve, the ability to automate everything cemented the decision for Steve.

Thomas Herman, Data Analyst of LP, remarks about the strength of ThinkLP “having such a small crew, ThinkLP has given us super powers!”

Saving Thousands on Missed Armored Car Pickups

Steve and his team used to hear of challenges stores were facing that he couldn’t act on because they just didn’t have the bandwidth to act. These challenges often went unresolved. One such challenge was that missed armored car pickups would not be credited to a stores invoice. Extra charges were never missed for things like extra pickups, fuel surcharges, etc. but no credits for a missed pickup. Steve and Thomas got to work building a form to report these missed pickups. They built reports to summarize the missed pickups, holding armored car companies accountable to the service they provide. Since they started tracking, Barnes & Noble College has received hundreds of credits for missed pickups translating to thousands of dollars in credits. Taking this one step further, Steve reveals pickup statistics to these companies regularly, and without revealing the identity of the other companies, illuminates them on their performance compared to their competitors.

Background Check Compliance Up 26% in 3 Months

In retail, background checks are critical to ensuring that employees can be trusted with cash and product. In the past, background checks have been missed and overall compliance of background checks were at only 69%. Steve recognized, “this a big risk for us, so we decided to use ThinkLP to help us improve the score with the ultimate goal of 100% compliance”. These checks are provided by a third-party vendor, the data is loaded into ThinkLP where actions can be taken. Location profiles report non-compliance of background checks, RLPMs share the score with stores along with the missing checks driving compliance upwards. In just three months, compliance has improved to 95%!

Somebody’s Watching Me!

It’s not just a great line from a Rockwell song, it’s a useful tactic to discourage theft and fraud! ThinkLP Analytics is more than an AWESOME Exception Reporting Platform, it’s a data analytics tool that can crunch any type of data at any time to generate actionable results. BNC imports alarm data paired with stores’ open & close times. This easily identifies unscheduled store opens and closes (a 90-minute grace period is allowed). With every occurrence, the BNC LP team makes contact with the store for explanation. This hasn’t resulted in any theft or fraud detection, but it lets the store know that Loss Prevention sees, hears and knows everything… It makes them feel like, “Somebody’s watching me!”

Book ‘em for Fraud

The typical book business has its fair share of theft and fraud, similar to other retail industries, but college bookstores are susceptible to additional forms of fraud. College bookstores offer to buy back books to be used next semester. The sale of books are recorded in the POS whereas the buyback is recorded in another software platform. With two disparate systems it’s difficult to identify fraud. The solution was easy, import data from both systems into ThinkLP’s Analytics platform, corelate the two data sets and find incidents in which more payouts occur than buybacks.

Shootin’ Fish in a Barrel!

Barnes & Noble College Bookstores is no stranger to Exception Based Reporting. The previous system had some deficiencies; suspect cashiers were identified only by their Cashier ID, a plethora of false positives were generated and the system wasn’t user friendly. Steve Welk, knowing the success of choosing ThinkLP decided to try ThinkLP’s Analytics platform for exception reporting. That decision resulted in fewer false positives, alerts that include cashier details and new alerts for issues that were not previously identified. Steve exclaimed, “we are catching a lot, it’s like shootin’ fish in a barrel”.

Big Bang for your Buck

Thomas Herman, Data Analyst of Loss Prevention loves ThinkLP and asks “Why didn’t we do it sooner?”. The first project most organizations take on is Incident Reporting. It’s the fastest way to make a big impact with ThinkLP. In addition to typical incident reports, Barnes & Noble stores submit service requests through the store portal including alarm schedule changes, vendor service requests, key changes, etc. Before ThinkLP, requests were emailed, then forwarded to stake holders, requests were completed, more emails were sent, information was recorded in spreadsheets and results were emailed back to the store. There were so many steps, it was ripe for failure and took far too long to get done. This entire process is now automated in ThinkLP.

Thomas reflects on the new way of doing things, “automation of service requests has taken tasks that used to consume our entire day down to mere seconds of time. It’s the biggest bang for our buck!”

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