When It’s Time to “Hit The Books” Cengage Uses Smarter Commerce to Turn Digital Texts Into the Best Target

Year after year, college students are aghast at the paltry price they are offered when they go to sell back their books at the end of a quarter or semester. Cengage Learning uses IBM Smarter Commerce to present a pleasant alternative for both these higher education students as well as in the K-12 range through digital learning materials that replace print-on-paper with a variety of online formats and an assortment of delivery options.

“State, local and federal governments are all cutting back on funding and the pricing issue has always been there,” says Charles Qian, director of e-Commerce Systems for Cengage, about the cost of text books and other learning materials. “Offering digital and alternative selling models such as rental textbooks is our way to say to our customers, ‘Hey… we’re hearing you.’”

This customer-centered philosophy is at the core of IBM Smarter Commerce. Using these solutions, Cengage has established itself as a market leader in providing digital rentals of full texts, offering chapters instead of entire books based on reader need and delivering other innovative technology-driven alternatives to traditional learning materials … and the company has experienced 50 percent year-over-year growth in the process.

And for a company that’s obviously interested in “learning,” Cengage has also used Smarter Commerce to get smarter about its own business. “We need to be able to reach out to customers more quickly and be able to get their feedback more quickly,” Qian adds. “So what we’ve done is actually decide to establish a direct-to-consumer channel to not only be able to distribute some of our content in the digital space, but also to use it as a test model to see how the marketplace reacts to the products we’re putting out there and gain valuable feedback in more real-time fashion as opposed to waiting for that feedback months or even sometimes years down the road.”

Cengage is a clear example of how learning and being smarter (commerce, in this case) go hand-in-hand.



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