retail news in context, analysis with attitude

It has been well reported, here and elsewhere, how chain bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders are trying to figure out how to survive in a world dominated by Amazon.com, and one in which e-books are gaining increased popularity. But small, independent bookstores are facing the same issues, usually without the same resources.

The New York Times writes, “More independent booksellers, whose stores account for about 10 percent of the industry’s retail market overall, are trying to move their own transformation along by imagining ways to supplement their printed-book business with online sales and more lucrative side businesses ... Many stores have recently begun selling e-books on their Web sites through Google, frequently at the same prices Amazon charges, but they have struggled to get the word out to their customers ... Other stores are experimenting with adding more nonbook products, as Barnes & Noble has done with its in-store cafes and sales of toys and games. John Hugo of HugoBookstores, which runs three bookstores in Massachusetts, has begun including Spanish and knitting classes with his stores’ traditional offerings. Mollie Loughlin, the owner of The Book Vine in the rural farming community of Cherokee, Iowa...operates a business that sells both books and bottles of fine wine.”
KC's View:
One of the things not really mentioned in the Times article is the importance of customer-specific marketing, especially if you are a small company with limited resources. I’m reminded of what Norman Mayne, of Dorothy Lane Markets, said yesterday at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Phoenix - that his company ran its last newspaper item/price ad in October 1995, and since then has focused on targeted marketing efforts that depend developing an intimate relationship with the shopper, listening to their opinions, responding to their needs and wants.

In many ways, that’s exactly what Amazon does, forging strong connective tissue with the shopper via technology.