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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Without an online presence Borders will stagnate

Looking at the bookselling industry from a growth (shareholder) perspective, you have to look online. Brick and mortar booksales simply do not have strong growth potential, even for a chain like Borders. Not only can online sales help increase gross sales, but it also complements and strengthens a company's brick and mortar brand.

I was sipping my coffee and reading the Times and was intrigued by an interview with new Borders CEO George L Jones.

Borders now (finally) has expanded its online sales beyond its partnership site located at Amazon (something we advocated previously). This is a good start, but their site is very basic and isn't something I'd be confident was strengthening my brand, if I were Mr. Jones. It is also something not even mentioned in the interview. In fact, according to the article, "In considering how the company could compete with its chief rival, Barnes & Noble, as well as with online retailers, Mr. Jones said the solution was not to do the same things as the others." There is no doubt that differentiation will be key to a successful tenure for Mr. Jones, but I certainly hope this is not meant to imply a continued decreased in emphasis for his online site.

Of course, as an independent online seller, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to advocate for a stronger online business for Borders. Given their nascent foray into the online bookselling world, they are light years away from offering used/3rd party sales on their site. That isn't to say it couldn't be an immediate score for the bookselling giant.