Focus Will Be Expanding and Improving Website
The Board of Directors of the United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) has announced the closing of all 38 of its full-line stores and 19 seminary stores including North Georgia's Lawrenceville Hwy. store and both the Candler and Gammon Seminary stores. UMPH will launch a new initiative, CokesburyNext, for its retail division.
CokesburyNext will redirect focus and resources toward expanding and enhancing products and services at Cokesbury.com, the Cokesbury Call Center (1-800-672-1789), and through a team of Cokesbury Sales Representatives.
As part of this transition, Cokesbury will closeCokesbury, which offers resources for congregations, seminaries, church leaders, study groups, and individuals has seen a steady increase in sales through Cokesbury.com and its Cokesbury Call Center operation over the past 10 years. At the same time, the number of Cokesbury customers relying solely on store locations has steadily declined. In the most recent customer survey, only 15 percent of Cokesbury’s customers reported shopping exclusively in stores. As a result of changes in the industry and the consumer shift to digital shopping and purchasing, the local stores are no longer financially viable.
“Cokesbury has been serving for more than 200 years, and during that time has continuously adapted to the changing landscape affecting congregations and their leaders,” said UMPH President and Publisher Neil Alexander. “A shift toward all things digital and the convenience of placing orders at any time is the reality of Cokesbury today. It is difficult to see the closure of Cokesbury local stores, but doing so will allow us to make a greater investment in the ways of shopping with Cokesbury that customers increasingly prefer.”
CokesburyNext involves the enhancement of four distinct purchasing channels. The Cokesbury Call Center (1-800-672-1789) will be extending its hours to 10 p.m. Eastern Time and increasing staffing to better suit busy customer schedules. Cokesbury.com will be continuously improved to serve customers and will regularly feature special offers and products. The scale and frequency of Cokesbury’s presence at local conferences and meetings will increase, and Cokesbury will work with church partners to host many of its most popular events. To better serve customers who require personal attention, we will deploy more than 40 Cokesbury Sales Representatives who will bring information about a full complement of products directly to customers at their churches and other ministry settings.
Cokesbury is taking steps to help ensure the well-being of store personnel following the closure of the local stores. The ministry will assist them in the transition, providing both severance packages and job search services.
CokesburyNext will be rolled out throughout 2013, and the last Cokesbury local store is expected to close by April 30, 2013. More information on CokesburyNext is available at www.CokesburyNext.com..