Questions? (877) 643-7244
FutureNow Post
Monday, Mar. 24, 2008 at 12:26 pm

The Demise of Borders Books: Death by Internet

By Michele Miller
March 24th, 2008

photo by sergei.y on FlickrThe news that Borders is considering putting itself up for sale should come as no surprise.

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.]

Add Your Comments

Comments (5)

  1. My understanding is that Borders has been locked in with Amazon as their online retailer. I read earlier they were trying to move to their own online presence once that relationship was over. I guess it didn’t happen soon enough.

  2. You are so right about the importance of addressing Internet distribution for ANY business, not just one like Borders, but I’m not sure that ‘fixing’ that aspect of its business would do much for saving its business. Granted, Borders…like Blockbuster before it…could have leveraged its expertise and brand name to ‘own’ online distribution before the likes of Netflix and Amazon were even ideas on paper, but now that those businesses exist, it seems to me that stores with geophysical sites have to develop uniquely different strategies to survive. Better book display, coffeeshops, etc., just don’t cut it; the fact that Internet retailing has permeated every nook and cranny of their businesses means that they have to find new, different, and perhaps wild reasons to inspire and motivate people to visit their bricks-and-mortar stores.

    Anyway, it’s a big brand marketing challenge, and I’ve riffed about it a bit at DIM BULB if you’d like to check it out: http://dimbulb.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/03/borders-reprint.html

  3. [...] The Demise of Borders Books: Death by Internet 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. [...]

  4. [...] So I never use them because it’s too much of a hassle. Michelle Miller at FutureNow has an excellent analysis about why Borders is selling its online bookstore — and one reason has to do with how you [...]

  5. [...] [...]

Add Your Comments

 

Print this Article
Share

More articles from Michele Miller

Marketing Optimization Blog
FREE Newsletter Sign-Up
send it once every: