CRA: Helping Shape the Future of Collegiate Retailing

The Collegiate Retail Alliance (formerly the Retail Alliance) was formed in 1999 by the college stores of Brigham Young University, Cornell University, the University of California-San Diego, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and the University of Connecticut. 

Their aim was to:

  • Enable independent college and university stores to improve business operations through advanced store operations technology;
  • Promote collaboration among members to develop and deploy the industry’s best practices;
  • Broker partnerships with leading suppliers; and
  • Deliver more value to their colleges and universities.

Technology, Innovation, and Profitable Partnerships
In 2000, the CRA purchased RATEX Business Solutions, Inc. (RBS), a leading software company and provider of powerful technology and expert management services to college and university stores. This move brought ownership of the powerful RATEX™ system into the independent college store community.

In conjunction with the RBS team and under the guidance of members, the CRA transformed RATEX into a Windows®-based program, VisualRATEX™, that has become the industry’s preferred store management solution. The CRA also forged partnerships with top suppliers to improve supply chain efficiencies at favorable terms for members.

A New Name for a New Era
In March 2009, as the organization celebrated 10 years of innovation and collaboration, the organization changed its name to the Collegiate Retail Alliance to better reflect its singular dedication to college stores and their success.  

Today, more than 50 large, independent college stores in the U.S. and Canada are proud CRA members. Their combined annual sales of nearly $1 billion make the CRA a significant force in the collegiate retailing industry.

Winner of the 2009 NCCI Award for Excellence
CRA was awarded the prestigious 2009 Leveraging Excellence” Award from the National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education (NCCI) in recognition of its development of the RATEX college store operating system, which enables the shared implementation of best practices. “The project is truly a collaborative reengineering of processes with significant and measurable impact areas of need, such as textbook and course material costs,” NCCI judges noted. “It addresses an area of increasing expense for universities with an innovative way to reduce costs.”