The Why Of Price Comparison

The last ten years in higher ed course materials have brought about a lot of change, particularly in student behavior. What’s something college stores can do to stay relevant amid these ever-changing market trends? Appeal to increasingly price-conscious student consumers by embracing market transparency. If you aren’t yet offering price comparison at your store (or have chosen not to), here are five important benefits for you to consider:


1. Increase Customer Trust

There is an unfortunate misconception among students that the college store is the most expensive place to acquire textbooks. A price comparison engine that offers an objective lens for students to view their course material sourcing options overcomes that misunderstanding and signals to students that their college store isn’t the predatory enterprise it is too often made out to be. Utilizing such a tool is a grand gesture to students that the college store is in business to foster student success in any way they best can.


2. Gain New Sales

Many students are already utilizing price comparison engines online to research their course material sourcing options. However, none of these online engines currently include the local options of the college store — meaning, a significant amount of students may acquire their materials elsewhere unaware of how competitive their college store actually is. By hosting a personalized price comparison engine, local store options can counter online retailers’ for the first time. This invites the most savvy and price conscious buyers on campus back to the college store, all while leveraging a powerful store differentiator: convenience. Market behavior has proven that a price difference of only a few dollars is negligible to students (and the convenience and accuracy of the college store will win out).


3. Monetize Lost Sales

Of course, when the price difference is more than a few dollars, there is the risk that sales will be lost to other online vendors. Although counterintuitive, it’s important to keep in mind that those most likely would have been lost sales for the store anyway. By hosting price comparison for campus, the college store gets to monetize those lost sales with referral commission. This is a revenue stream previously left on the table, available for other vendors to re-invest in the strategic practices that won them the sale in the first place.


4. Impress Campus Leadership

There is something to be said about an enterprise that is willing to offer students complete market transparency and freedom of choice, at the potential risk of a few lost sales. It drastically separates an independent store doing its best to objectively serve students affordable course materials, from a lease operator in pursuit of profit and power. These lease operators may or may not currently be talking to your campus leadership. Regardless, positioning your store up as an objective, early advocate of student affordability and accessibility is a powerful value-add opportunity that only solidifies your place on campus now (and forever).


5. Maximize Store Value

With Hero, the potential doesn’t end with price comparison. Utilizing Hero to power price comparison lays the fundamental infrastructure necessary for college stores to do so much more: productive faculty engagement, scalable inclusive access and digital negotiation, and effective OER campaigns (to name just a few). Unlike other price comparison tools currently available to college stores at a hefty price, Hero establishes a framework that allows college stores to truly stand out and make a difference — at a fraction of the price.


Don’t wait any longer to harness the power of price comparison. Get started today and see what Hero can do for you!

Culture Statement Highlight : Principles of Scientific Method

We are often asked, “Why is Sidewalk so different from other vendors?” CEO Alan Martin didn’t start out with the intent of creating an unusual culture at an enterprise focused on higher ed course materials.  He began with the problem, “Why?” — as in “Why are college textbooks so expensive and how could I help bring that cost down?” That was in 2007 and now, nine years later, Sidewalk is intentionally answering those questions with a corporate culture best served to accomplish the solution in innovative and effective ways.  Here’s a little window into the Culture Statement that drives and inspires Sidewalk to approach things differently every day.


Culture Highlight 4



Complete transcript below:


[ page 2-3 ]

1. Question Authority. No idea is true just because someone says so.

2. Think For Yourself. Question yourself. Don’t believe anything just because you want to. Believing something doesn’t make it so.

3. Test Ideas By The Evidence Gained Through Observation And Experiment. If a favorite idea fails a well designed test, it’s wrong. Get over it.

4. Follow The Evidence Wherever It Leads. If you have no evidence, reserve judgment.

5. Remember, You Could Be Wrong.

Every interaction we have is fueled by the desire for truth. This requires every person to think for themselves and speak for themselves. Anything other than thinking for yourself would be bending to authority. We of course disagree on ideas themselves, maybe furiously, but not in our honest desire for truth. Our mission is very hard. We are surrounded by bureaucracy, decades old traditions and technology, and extremely well-funded competitors. Anything short of the best ideas winning isn’t acceptable when laid against the backdrop of the challenge ahead of us.