Although the company used last week’s announcement that they’re seeking a buyout as an opportunity to blame a tight credit market and competition from discount chains like Wal-Mart, Borders‚ disappointing performance stems from a failure to take e-commerce seriously.
For Borders not to have an exclusive online presence in this day and age boggles the mind. The homepage is a drab catchall for store locations, gift cards, and company information. The coupons that Borders Rewards members receive via email are good for in-store purchases only. And if you do decide to shop Borders online, type in “Borders.com” and see where it takes you to an Amazon.com boutique, complete with “amazon.com” in the URL.
Why brand your biggest competitor (which, despite market conditions, grew by double digits last year)?
Borders does have a beta site that they’re testing and promoting on the current homepage (Bordersstores.com, not Borders.com), assuring visitors that “whole new Borders experience is coming.” The beta site is very attractive and conducive to buying — except for one minor detail. You can’t buy anything. There’s still no e-commerce attached to Borders, only the ability to “save” a book for pickup at the store nearest you.
To ignore the ways in which online shopping has permeated the lives of untold millions of customers is one of the biggest business failures of this decade.
[About the author: Michele Miller is a guest contributor for GrokDotCom. Michele is co-author (with FutureNow's Holly Buchanan) of The Soccer Mom Myth "Today's Female Consumer: Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys". You can buy it online from Amazon.]