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Retail revenue: Insight from campus store providers and organizations

University Business, September 2018

What do you see as the biggest revenue-related challenge facing campus stores today?

“Declining textbook sales have affected most campus stores, but online competition isn’t the only reason. Other factors are decreasing enrollments, open resources, rentals and use of social media by students to swap or sell materials. Stores have responded with expanded services, more general merchandise and technology offerings, and innovative marketing.”

—Robert A. Walton, CEO, National Association of College Stores

“Supporting school connection and spirit represents a tremendous opportunity for revenue growth, but the market for school spirit products is crowded. College stores have the on-campus advantage and must leverage it by creating authentic, locally driven experiences. They need to continuously update, curate and customize their merchandise mix to provide the fresh, relevant selection today’s consumers expect.”

—Joel Friedman vice president/chief merchandising officer, Barnes and Noble College  


LINK TO MAIN ARTICLE: Campus commerce: Bricks vs. clicks


“Overcoming student perception that campus stores are not competitive is the biggest revenue-related challenge facing store operators. Students [can have] affordable textbooks and formats that include new, used, digital, rental and open-educational resources, with flexible purchase options from price matching and use of financial aid, to tuition-based [textbook] programs.” 

—Tom Kline, vice president, corporate communications, Follett Corporation

“One major revenue-related challenge stores face is a publisher-driven drop in the average selling price of course materials. We’ve seen publishers evolve content from consignment print rentals to courseware and digital subscriptions. If stores can’t distribute this lower-cost content, students shop elsewhere and stores see further revenue decline.”

—Jeff Miller, vice president of sales and marketing, MBS Textbook Exchange

“While it’s not the only challenge, the growth of substitutes for new textbook sales—rentals, used, ebooks, OER content—paired with the growth of lower-cost options for new books creates a complex supply chain that may be difficult for providers without scale. As such, we are seeing interest from college administrators who are looking at what their alternatives are in relation to the traditional models of selling physical inventory on campus.”

—Raj Kaji, CEO, Akademos


Larry Bernstein is a New Jersey-based writer who frequently covers the retail business.