Alex Lyons

CIO, The Duck Store

Supernova Award Category: 

Matrix Commerce

The Company: 

Founded in 1920, The Duck Store is an independent nonprofit retailer whose academic mission is to support the students, faculty & staff of the University of Oregon and Duck fans around the world. Many of Oregon’s NCAA teams have received global recognition for their excellence and have helped raise brand awareness for the university.

alumni, faculty and passionate fans spend about $30 million a year combined through The Duck Store’s online channel and 13 brick-and-mortar locations at UO campuses, sporting venues and malls in Oregon.

The Duck Store offers a wide range of roughly 90,000 SKUs, from textbooks, school supplies and electronics to Ducks-branded apparel and merchandise such as mugs and bumper stickers. Sales surge during football and basketball seasons.

The Problem: 

The Duck Store faces pressure from online retailers, from Amazon on down. It needs to satisfy tech-savvy millennials who expect seamless omnichannel commerce. And it has to handle increasingly complex textbook sales — hardcover and digital, rentals, new and used sales, driven by professor specifications — in addition to industry processes such as complicated vendor returns and buyback.

Like many campus stores, The Duck Store relied on niche software called MBS Textbook Exchange for financials, inventory and point of sale (POS). This outdated green screen application posed difficulties in data access and visibility.

Because MBS wasn’t integrated with The Duck Store’s Volusion ecommerce site, the retailer ran separate shopping carts for textbooks and general merchandise. That meant frustration for shoppers while employees spent seven hours a day moving data and troubleshooting errors.

“It became really challenging to meet the needs of our customers given the antiquated architecture that we were working on,” said Alex Lyons, CIO.

The Solution: 

The Duck Store knew it needed to modernize to compete in a fast-changing market. The nonprofit retailer evaluated the option of adapting its MBS system or implementing another campus retail niche product called VisualRATEX.

Ultimately, it selected NetSuite as a unified solution for financials, inventory, order management, POS and ecommerce, as well as NetSuite Bronto for email marketing. The company recognized it could eliminate the challenges of siloed on-premise systems by moving to an integrated cloud platform. In addition, NetSuite’s open API and architecture made it easy to customize and integrate with third-party applications.

The Duck Store took a two-phase approach to implementation. First, NetSuite was deployed in June 2016 for all core processes except for textbook inventory and sales, which remained on MBS. Next, The Duck Store customized NetSuite and migrated its textbooks sales, eliminating dual systems for textbook and general merchandise.

The Results: 

The Duck Store transformed operational efficiency with its move to cloud ERP. The retailer now has process automation and on-demand access to financial, inventory, order and customer information, saving hundreds of hours of manual work.

The Duck Store has dramatically improved ecommerce performance since replacing its aging Volusion platform with SuiteCommerce Advanced. Capabilities such as responsive design, faceted search and one-page checkout have fueled growth in key ecommerce metrics.

The cloud system has been embraced by longtime employees as well as new and student hires, improving productivity and employee satisfaction across 125 NetSuite users. Results include:

Seamless omnichannel commerce. A single platform for physical POS and ecommerce sales over laptops, smartphones and tablets has enabled The Duck Store to achieve the ideal of seamless omnichannel commerce.

Customer centricity and service. The Duck Store can focus on customer centricity in all aspects of operations, and has real-time data to quickly resolve any customer service issues that arise.

Real-time inventory. Previously, inventory was updated once a day. Real-time inventory with NetSuite means that if a store is out of the sweatshirt a customer wants, a cashier can easily locate the product and coordinate purchase.

Inventory flexibility. The Duck Store allocates products to its online channel from physical stores as demand for Ducks merchandise surges around major sporting events.


The Duck Store has seen quantified gains in sales, order volumes, operational efficiency[MH1] and ecommerce performance since going live on NetSuite in June 2016. Compared to past years:

One FTE reduction spent reconciling between two systems.

Units of items sold up 230%.

Net online sales up 9%.

Order volume up 14%.

Bounce rate down 25%. The rate of website visitors who “bounce” after a seeing a single page is down by one-quarter.

The Technology: 

NetSuite ERP (financials, inventory, order management)

NetSuite SuiteCommerce Advanced

NetSuite SuiteCommerce InStore POS

NetSuite Bronto Email Marketing

Disruptive Factor: 

The Duck Store is a pioneer in the campus retail vertical with its adoption of cloud ERP and omnichannel commerce. The vast majority of the 3,000 collegiate retailers in the U.S. (per the National Association of College Stores) continue to rely on siloed on-premise systems, often the industry-specific MBS Textbook Exchange and VisuaRATEX applications.

“One challenge we have is that the collegiate retail world has four or five primary legacy systems that we all work on,” Lyons said. “The problem is they’re based on old technologies and are not highly flexible or customizable.”

In the closely-knit collegiate retail world, retailers view one another as peers, rather than competitors. By sharing The Duck Store’s story of transformation, Lyons is hopeful that other collegiate retailers will explore undertaking a similar journey to cloud ERP and omnichannel commerce.

“NetSuite has been a great solution for The Duck Store, “ Lyons said. “We’re showing the collegiate bookstore world how to stay viable by embracing the cloud.”

Shining Moment: 

The Duck Store has won recognition with articles on its transformation in Internet Retailer, Retail TouchPoints and Chain Store Age publications.

A “shining moment” came in March 2017, when the Oregon men’s basketball team made the NCAA Final Four and the women made the Elite Eight. The excitement of Ducks fans drove online sales up 81% and order volume up 350%, vs. 2016. The retailer handled the ecommerce spike seamlessly, further validating its move to the cloud.

About The Duck Store

We strive to provide the best retail experience for students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University of Oregon. Our mission is to support the academic endeavors of the University of Oregon as well as to provide students, faculty and staff the benefit of our non-profit structure and make attending and working at the university convenient. We are Ducks serving Ducks, since 1920.