With SHRM 16 rapidly approaching, articles have been written on keynotes, concurrent speakers, networking and even what to wear or not wear. One area that is been overlooked is one of my (and many others) high points to any Annual Conference and that is the SHRM Store.
Every conference, SHRM staffers and hundreds of volunteers set up the world’s largest HR oriented bookstore (10,000 + square feet) in two days and tear it down in less than one. Many people wander through killing time, meeting friends and just getting the keynoter’s book to have it signed without giving the store much of a thought. Bookstore junkies like me love browsing the titles, accessories and other HR oriented tools to add to our office or home collection.
To shine some light on what goes into the Store, I asked Andi Cale, SHRM Manager, E-Commerce and Bookstore Operations some questions I and some of my SHRM friends had about what the Store is and what goes into it.
Q. How do you choose what books to carry in the bookstore?
We look at what has sold both online and via other Chapter and SHRM events to get the best-selling titles. Also, we carry titles from all speakers that are authors in the store. Finally, we look at what new HR titles are out there and pick from a select number that we either map to the sessions at the show or to the competencies.
Q. How many books do you sell at Annual Conference?
We sell over 12,000 book units onsite
Q. What is the favorite non-book item purchased at the store?
Attendees have great conversations with our Table Talk Hot Spot vendors to discuss HR software options, Harassment Training, Employment Law Compliance and Leadership Training; these are online tools, SaaS-based solutions, and DVDs. There’s no one item that stands out but HR-specific tools are the one favorite item that attendees purchase that aren’t books. That, and all things I Love HR!
Q. How do you keep the SHRM Store relevant in the age of eBooks, Amazon.com and other new-fangled resources?
A long time ago I took the Blue Ocean Strategy approach. That is, I don’t try to compete with Amazon. Instead, I find items that they don’t carry that are very HR-Specific to concentrate on. This includes carrying HR-specific products like online HR Compliance tools, DVD training, and desktop/ SaaS based software solutions. Plus we try to bring community to our books by taking the store to SHRM and SHRM Chapter events! Plus, we regularly look for ways to improve our services with things like the Approved for Credit program. No matter what though, even if customers buy their books from Amazon – and they do – they start at the store to determine what they should buy. And we take that very seriously. Our books have to be approved for HR professionals.
Q. What are some of the quirkiest things that authors have done at a signing or what strange request have they made for a book signing?
Luckily our speakers are pretty easy! And the strangest thing that ever happened in a book signing was when Mika Brzezinski walked through the checkout line to ensure everyone got a signed copy!
Q. Which keynote speaker has had the largest book signing?
Marcus Buckingham in 2015. We sold over 3,000 copies!
Q. What item/topic do most people ask for when they shop book wise?
The #1 item/ topic people ask is, “I was just in ______ [so-and-so’s session on such-and such] and I need a book or tool to take home with me so I can keep this learning going. What do you recommend?” Attendees want resources that will help them implement the learning they just experienced. They want something that will guide them on how to put the learning into action.
Some other things attendees/shoppers need to know include is that if you don’t find a book you are looking for, the SHRM Store will have 7 online ordering stations that will have access to the entire SHRM Store inventory that you can order that book and have it shipped directly to home or office. Speaking of shipping material home, there will be the option of having your Store purchase shipped to your home or office avoiding the hassle of taking on the plane home.
Don’t forget that there will be a number of opportunities to have books by the keynotes and many other speakers signed for you. One reminder, they have to be books purchased on site….don’t bring your library from home.
Finally, if you feel generous, attendees can “round up” at the register to support the SHRM Foundation. Simply round up to the next dollar and the spare change goes directly to the Foundation to support their initiatives.