Barnes and Noble in the Digital Age
Barnes and Noble started out as the run of the mill book shop and has today grown with the changes that have occurred in technology, incorporated these changes of these digital times in their mode of functioning to offer a wider range of services keeping in mind the dynamic nature of customer demands, to become the largest suppliers of all kinds of reading materials either through their physical outlets or their virtual outlets. With more than eight hundred sales outlets all over the fifty states of the United States of America, Barnes and Noble is the largest bookseller in the world. These stores offer a wide variety of music, DVD or video titles and magazines all through the year. The ownership of the company extends to B. Dalton Bookseller, Doubleday, Bookstop and Bookstar stores, which consist of regional shopping mall-based store that concentrate on the traditional consumer book market, with a wide offering of bestsellers and general-interest titles. The Barnes and Noble outlets also provide coffee in collaboration with Starbuck’s and is the second largest coffee-house in the United States of America. (Barnes & Noble: nyjobsource.com)
The origins of Barnes and Noble go back to 1873, when Charles M. Barnes began a book business from home in Wheaton, Illinois. His son, William, proceeded in 1917 to New York to associate with G. Clifford Noble in starting Barnes and Noble. At the peak of the Great Depression, the store that was to become the flagship of Barnes and Noble was opened on Fifth Avenue at 18th Street in New York City., where it can still be seen today. This store was to earn a reputation worldwide for excellence in providing service to millions of customers possessing a full collection of general trade books, academic titles, medical books and text books. The present Chairman of the company started his bookselling career, when he was at the New York University as a student. He was employed at the bookstore of the university and was fully convinced that he would do a better job in the service of students and started a competing store. Using just a small investment he set up the Student Book Exchange at Greenwich Village in Manhattan and in a short time the store earned a reputation for being one of the finest bookstores with a wide selection of books and great service from its knowledgeable staff.
In 1970 the thriving business of Riggio had enlarged to six other college book stores now took the giant leap of acquiring Barnes and Noble trade name and the flagship store at Manhattan, which was showing signs of decay. In a span of a few years Riggio transformed this book store into the largest bookstore in the world with almost one hundred and fifty thousand textbooks and trade titles. Riggio still remains committed to the students in the United States of America and through the privately held company of Barnes and Noble College Booksellers runs over five hundred stores on the campuses of colleges and universities all across the United States of America and Canada. The company then went on to add the B. Dalton and Bookstop chains and in the 1990’s in a change of strategy developed the superstore concept which contributes ninety six percent of the company sales. In 1997 the company launched its own Internet site, which now has on offer more than one million books on sale. (Barnes & Noble: nyjobsource.com)
Use of Internet and Information Services:
The real life story of online book selling effort provides an excellent case study for aspirants in e-commerce. The real life story portrays how the leading real-world retailer took the strategic decision to take advantage of the online business opportunity and implemented this to offset the competition that had become a reality and was threatening the business of the company. (Amazon still a shelf above the competition). Amazon.com started the trend in online sale of books and was soon to grow in such a manner that Barnes and Noble started feeling the pinch and had to take steps that would offset this threat and decided to start a virtual store in the form of barnesandnoble.com. Barnes and Noble have not been able to get ahead of Amazon.com in the virtual sale of books, yet they have kept snapping at their heels and have proved themselves competitive in this aspect also. (Analysis — Amazon’s turf war) Barnes and Noble have also felt the pinch of virtual outlets attempting to cut into their college text book market and have had to take steps to offset this aspect too. (Barnes and Noble faces new competition, online)
All these aspects had to be taken into consideration when Barnes and Noble decided to go in for an effective Website to provide for purchases through the Internet. The Website of Barnes and Noble has been designed with this in mind. It provides for clear cut classification of different areas of interest for a viewer to easily find the area of interest and the links make it possible for the customer to get a full experience of the area of interest before making the purchase decision. Dynamic images add to the fuller experience of any customer. The purchase decision can be changed at any time and new purchases easily incorporated with a clear ideas of the investment in the purchase and ease of transaction for the settlement of the transaction. (Book Browser) The website of Barnes and Noble has kept up with its tradition of providing an excellent experience for its customers in all its previous activities. The search engine facility of the Barnes and Noble website has received accolades and has been adjudged the best of the top twenty online retailers. (Customer Relationship Management Resources: Vividence Retail Impact Study)
Barnes and Noble in the Future:
Barnes and Noble has not found the going easy in the online retail market as it had initially attempted to copy the activities of Amazon.com and therefore not been able to establish a clear dominance over this competition faced. It also failed to make better use of the physical aspect of the large chain of stores at its disposal. Barnes and Noble are the leaders in the retailing of books through their physical outlets and this is where they have their strongest advantage. Amazon.com, who they are finding as a tough competitor in the online retail market has the edge in that market as they are the pioneers there. Amazon.com would have found it extremely difficult had they tried to take on Barnes and Noble on their home turf of the physical outlets for book retailing. Therefore it would pay rich dividends to Barnes and Noble to pay a little more attention on the large number of retail stores that they have all over the country and in Canada. This idea seems to have already seen the light of day with Barnes and Noble in the tie up with Starbucks to provide Coffee-shops as a value addition to their core activity of book retailing. This would draw customers in and increase the purchases. (Using the Internet to Jump the Competition)
Barnes and Noble stores need to create an aura of relaxed purchase as any kind of purchase is easier done by through the Internet. The coffee-house aspect needs to be expanded to provide customers to relax and go through the selection of books in more detail manner before arriving at the purchase decision. This would attract the serious and more regular purchaser of books to the outlets of Barnes and Noble. To draw in the chance customers Barnes and Noble needs to expand the product base that they currently have. Barnes and Noble do have a lot to offer children in terms of reading and viewing material. This segment of the market can be attracted to go to a Noble and Barnes outlet by creating a toy segment. The creation of this toy segment for Noble and Barnes will not prove difficult as there are many quality toy manufacturers and sellers that are finding it difficult to compete with Wal-Mart. They would be only too glad at an opportunity to have their wares available at the large number of sale outlets of Barnes and Noble. Parents coming in to buy toys for their children may decide to go in for something more serious or may pick up some reading material for them. This would mean an increase in sale volume and an additional customer base. The Barnes and Noble stores of tomorrow are likely to be stores that offer a relaxed atmosphere and a wider range of products. (Using the Internet to Jump the Competition)
Activities to Offset Competition:
In an attempt to offset the attempts to reduce the sales volume of the several Barnes and Noble College Marketing network, by competitors the tie-up with Cingular Wireless was put into place. Students possess a purchasing power of thirty billion dollars annually and this tie up is an attempt to tap the huge market. Cingular wireless phone and accessories become available at all the college outlets of Barnes and Noble through this tie-up and thus provide an opportunity for students to pick up their communication requirements and personalize them with the accessories available, through these outlets. In keeping with their tradition of efficiency in customer service a retail representative of Cingular Wireless will be available at all the outlets during the key business hours. (Cingular Wireless and Barnes & Noble College Marketing Network Team Up To Help College Students Express Themselves Wirelessly)
Another way that Barnes and Noble attempts at reducing the impact of competitor activity is in their involvement of events and activities that involve parents and students through Barnes and Noble Family Events. Barnes and Noble believe in catching the young children as customers and involving their parents too. In such events school children are given an opportunity to display their creative potential and their works are read out and displayed. To relieve the tedium of serious activity special children entertainment activity is also provided. To keep the interest of parents alive there are book reading sessions by noted authors and other activities that are of interest to them. In this manner Barnes and Noble contributes to development in the society and the public relations effort give them rich benefits on the revenue generation side. (Barnes and Noble Family Events)
Barnes and Noble Family Events. Retrieved from http://www.sanjosefamilies.com/barnes-and-noble.html Accessed on April 14, 2005
Barnes & Noble. February 27, 2005. Retrieved from http://nyjobsource.com/barnes.html Accessed on April 14, 2005
Book Browser. Retrieved from http://www.bargainstrike.com/barnes_and_nobles / Accessed on April 14, 2005
Cingular Wireless and Barnes & Noble College Marketing Network Team Up To Help College Students Express Themselves Wirelessly. 2001. Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/micro_stories.pl?ACCT=683921& TICK=CINGUL01& STORY=/www/story/08-06-2001/0001548968& EDATE=Aug+6,+2001 Accessed on April 14, 2005
Customer Relationship Management Resources: Vividence Retail Impact Study. Retrieved from http://www.wdfm.com/publish/customer_relationship_management/customer_relationship_management6.htm Accessed on April 14, 2005
Nandi, Ayon. Barnes and Noble faces new competition, online. Retrieved from http://www.yaleherald.com/archive/xxvii/1999.01.15/exclusive / Accessed on April 14, 2005
Pherson, Marnie. Using the Internet to Jump the Competition. September 14, 1998. Issue: 1. Retrieved from http://www.sideroad.com/pass/column1.html Accessed on April 14, 2005
Starbucks Coffee: Expansion in Asia. Retrieved from http://www3.interscience.wiley.com:8100/legacy/college/kotabe/0471230626/text_cases/starbucks.doc Accessed on April 14, 2005
Stoop Kelly. Analysis — Amazon’s turf war. October 30, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.webactivemagazine.co.uk/analysis/41052 Accessed on April 14, 2005
Wolverton, Troy. Amazon still a shelf above the competition. June 2, 1999. Retrieved from http://news.com.com/Amazon+still+a+shelf+above+the+competition/2100-1017_3-226632.html Accessed on April 14, 2005
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