retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Seattle Times has a story about how Borders “botched its move into the digital age and instead saw sales drop and earnings plummet,” putting it in a position where it now is “under siege, cutting staff, shuttering stores, shaking up top management and flirting with bankruptcy.”

"The superstores were viewed by the independent bookstores as dinosaurs that came to kill them — and they did," Al Greco, a book-publishing expert and professor of marketing at Fordham University's Graduate School of Business Administration, tells the Times. "Today, it looks like the big bang has hit and now the dinosaurs are in peril."

Among the problems cited in the story: “Borders was especially hurt by poor and sluggish decision-making by revolving-door executives from unrelated industries, including supermarkets, apparel and finance, Greco said.”

And, “in 2001, just as Internet commerce was beginning to thrive, Borders made the mistake of turning its online sales over to Amazon, which gained vital customer information such as purchasing habits.”
KC's View:
To survive in the current economic environment, you have to be fast, you have to be certain, you have to put the highest premium on innovation, you have to be willing to make changes if things don’t work, and, most importantly, you have to have an intimate knowledge of your customer and be willing and able to act on that information.

By these standards, Borders has been a colossal failure.