University of Alberta Bookstore: Strategic Plan April 1, 2016-March 31, 2019


In the rapidly shifting landscape of educational resources and PSE functions it is more essential than ever that the University of Alberta Bookstore is guided by a strategic plan that takes account of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in an evolving environment. This document is also the Bookstore's response to a 2014 internal audit that recommended the development of its existing less formal strategic process into a more formal Strategic Plan. Management agreed with this assessment and undertook to produce a Strategic Plan for the community in 2015.

In preliminary discussions between the Vice-Provost (Learning Services) and the Bookstore's Assistant Directors, it was agreed that a number of principles would form a necessary foundation for the successful implementation of any Strategic Plan, viz.

  • The Bookstore will improve its financial sustainability and break even or make a profit over the life of the Plan
  • Changes in the Bookstore's financial obligations to the university or the Students Union will necessarily impact the expected outcomes of the Plan
  • The Bookstore will continue to be an ancillary enterprise operating within the academic sector
  • The Bookstore will continue to be the preferred outlet for all university products including course materials (printed, ebook/access code, lab materials), medical and general reference books, crested/uncrested apparel, crested/uncrested giftware, crested/uncrested school and office supply
  • There will be no planned/actioned reduction in the Bookstore's current staff complement
  • There will be no change in the Bookstore's location on North Campus
  • The Bookstore management and staff will continue to adhere to and advocate for the legal, ethical and professional responsibilities that are associated with sales of university products on University of Alberta property

NB. The University of Alberta Bookstore is an Ancillary Enterprise operating within the academic sector, reporting to the Vice-Provost (Learning Services).

Definition: "Ancillary Enterprises are defined as operational units within the University corporate entity whose function is to provide support services or supplies to the University community (staff, students or external clients) on a fee for services basis or as a merchandising operation. Ancillary Enterprises operate on a full cost recovery or break even basis: in some cases a profit may be generated. They are charged for infrastructure support in order to reflect the full and true cost of these operations (e.g. overheads, occupancy costs, central administration charges). In addition, they are expected to fund through their operations acquisition costs, replacement and renewal of their capital assets, including the repayment of debt and related interest. Interest charges are assessed on deficits."


The Bookstore is an Ancillary Enterprise that supports the Academic Mission of the University of Alberta by selling course materials and other products relevant to the University's students, faculty, staff and external communities.

The Bookstore will proactively accommodate and support a diverse, inclusive and changing community of staff, students and customers.

Strategies 2016-2019

1.    Enhance services to students
  • Combine convenience of e-commerce purchases with improved pick-up and delivery operations
  • Continue to monitor campus bookstore services piloted by other North American bookstores to benefit students (e.g. dynamic pricing). Implement where appropriate and communicate decisions clearly
  • Provide a formal Students Bookstore Advisory Committee or similar mechanism for two-­way communication between Bookstore management and students (including the Student Union and Graduate Students Association)
2.    Enhance services to external communities
  • Extend services to francophone communities throughout western Canada using bilingual e-commerce site, services to schools and colleges, attendance at regional events, and temporary/pilot store locations such as those currently located at the Campus St-Jean and Maurice Lavallee School. Decisions will be informed by the Consultative Committee
  •      - Librairie le Carrefour, a voluntary committee allowing community representatives to provide guidance and advice to the university.
  • Expand services to alumni and the Alumni Association by expanding the relationship and continuing to support alumni and campus events (Green and Gold week, Convocation frame sales, other alumni events) and providing a communication and service page on the Bookstore eCommerce site
3.    Seek return on investment in technology to manage resources, gain efficiencies, increase online service and evaluate performance
  • Seek optimal ROI from newly-implemented Ratex and eRatex implementation;
  • Improve customer experience especially through improved interactive online presence;
  • Increase volume of sales through e-commerce web site and expanded special order program services;
  • Use improved business analytics to provide category performance data and react to trends
4.    Invest in Bookstore physical infrastructure
  • Improve UofA image and environment for Bookstore staff and patrons by planning, financing and implementing replacement of flooring for main floor of the North Campus location
  • Review and if appropriate begin planning for alternative or supplementary North Campus location after current lease in SUB terminates
5.    Maintain and expand role as on-campus employer of choice for University of Alberta students
  • Actively promote and manage diverse and inclusive student hiring practice, taking pride in the many positive outcomes for student hires including financial benefits, safe working environment, potential job references, flexible hours, and serving peers