Our evolving engagement and business models

For a business that can trace its roots back to 1751 when John Smith started his bookselling career at the University of Glasgow, it is not surprising that our business has been through a number of changes.

This continues today as we focus the business on our Aspire Engage engagement solutions. Over the past two years we have introduced a new support model for our Aspire schemes that has centred on having a dedicated Engagement Partner on campus (profiles of our Engagement Partners will feature in forthcoming posts). Our Engagement Partners work with faculty, student services, the library and other stakeholders at their universities to ensure that Aspire is delivering demonstrable benefits to students. The Engagement Partners are supported by Student Ambassadors who not only do a great job promoting the Aspire schemes but also provide feedback on how they can be improved. Another feature of this new support model is that we have developed specific online student stores to provide students with access to a vast array of learning resources.

The new model has gone down well with our host universities and we have decided to roll the model out next academic year at the majority of universities with an Aspire Engage scheme. For some of our host universities this means that we will no longer have a physical on campus store so there will be fewer of the John Smith’s stores that are familiar to many.  At the end of this academic year, we will be moving to the new Aspire support model at the universities of Anglia Ruskin, Chester, Greenwich and West London and will no longer have John Smith’s on campus stores at these universities.

With these changes and the ongoing trend of students purchasing online, we have also taken the opportunity to review the service provision at our non-Aspire universities (Southampton, Stirling, Strathclyde and Sussex). We are currently working with each of these universities to replace the on campus bookshop with a dedicated online store and a new flexible model of support. We will be providing each of these Universities with a “University Partner” whose role will be working with the students as well as maintaining links with faculty, the library and other stakeholders to provide a tailored service for the institution.