Published on: November 4, 2010Now available on iTunes…
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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is a Thursday Eye-Opener on MNB Radio, available on iTunes and brought to you by Webstop, experts in the art of retail website design.
Here is the story put out via CNBC and a number of other media outlets this week:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Borders Group Inc. is rolling out a new program that will have the bookseller matching prices if shoppers find in-store items selling for less at a local rival.
The move comes as Borders tries to ward off increasing competition from online competitors and discounters as it heads into the holiday season. The action may drive cost-conscious shoppers into Borders stores, as the uncertain economy has kept most consumers focused on price as they hunt for holiday gifts.
"In a competitive environment, the differentiators for consumers are value offerings combined with an exceptional in-store experience," CEO Mike Edwards said in a statement.
Borders is also hoping shoppers will be drawn to its in-stock promise, a program that ships items to customer's homes for free if they are unable to find the books they're looking for in a Borders store or on its website.
This all is well and good. It makes sense for Borders, which has had more than its share of troubles in recent years, to do everything it can to compete aggressively in the marketplace...though, to be fair, there’s nothing in this story that makes me go, “Yikes, I gotta to my Christmas shopping at Borders this year!”
There is one line - actually two words - that I would take issue with...that in fact draw a big red circle around Borders’ problems, and the problems facing a lot of retailers in the current environment.
Now, I know what they’re getting at here, but I think in a lot of ways the notion of a local rival is kind of a 20th century construct. And not even late 20th century.
There have been tons of stories on MNB and elsewhere lately about how, for example, Amazon has a smart phone app that allows you to take a picture of a product bar code, find out how much Amazon is selling that item for, and then order it with one-click. Or how Walmart will allow you to order anything from its website and have it delivered for pickup at your local FedEx Office store for no extra charge. Or how you can use an Android phone to take a picture of a bar code and instantly find out much everybody in a given area is selling them same item for.
The list of applications - and the ways in which they position a wide variety of companies in an enormous number of places to compete with almost everyone - is only growing. Daily. Hourly.
Sure, whatever you are selling, you are competing with the folks across the street or down the block. But the stark reality is that all competition is local, because local doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
You have to be aware. You have to be engaged. you have to be competitive.
It can be a little scary. But here’s the good news. Do it right, do it aggressively, and suddenly you can successfully compete with retailers that aren’t anywhere near you for their customers.
It ain’t pretty, and it ain’t for the faint of heart.
But it is reality.
For MNB Radio, I’m Kevin Coupe.
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