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5ivedom
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Re: Nook placement in stores

The OS is not a big deal.

 

 

Apple OS = Their identity. Perfect design and what not.

 

Apple would NEVER change their OS after a partnership.

 

Contrast that with B&N where

 

It's Android.

 

It's a sking on top of Android.

 

So there are two things here

 

1 How attached is B&N to Android? A: Not very much.

 

2 How attached is B&N to the Nook Skin they put on top of Android? No idea.

 

However, you can't really compare that to making an ACTUAL OS and ALSO an OS that is sold for money and not just given away like Android.

 

*****

 

Windows is really big. Windows 8, as the latest windows, is going to be very big.

 

You might not think of it as big. However, it's going to be 200 million+ people by end of year. 90% of those will be on PC Desktops and Laptops. However, developers will still be able to sell to them.

 

So it's a BIG store. There are 60K apps already.

 

*****

 

I don't know about the rest. Rest totally depends on what signs and data points you choose to consider as valid or not.

 

However, these two points there's not really any big argument.

 

Changing from  Skin over Android to Windows 8 is not a very big shift. The emotional investment and other investment in it is not very much. It's not like they built their entire OS from the ground up.

 

Windows 8 is a big store. It's WINDOWS. It's 95% of the worldwide Desktop and Laptop market.

 

 

 

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Wulfraed
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Re: Nook placement in stores

In the role of Devil's Advocate...

 

How much "customer service" does a pure bookstore need? My experience has been that unless a book was obviously misprinted (missing/duplicated pages) one was lucky to even get store credit or exchange. So is it any surprise if a company used to that environment is sinking in the muck when it tries to add active hardware/software?

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flyingtoastr
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Re: Nook placement in stores


keriflur wrote:

Actually, two that I know of that are doing very well are Elliott Bay Bookstore and Powell's downtown store.  Powell's is bigger than any B&N I've ever been to, with the possible exception of the B&N on Union Square in NYC, and Elliott Bay is bigger than both of my remaining local B&Ns.

 

So... what's the math on that?  Maybe that good customer service and a relationship with the neighborhood sell books?  Maybe that discount isn't the way to go in this market?  Or maybe it's simply that if you want good numbers, you need to think about more than just numbers.


I don't know much of anything about Elliot Bay, but Powell's specializes in used books, which have margins far in excess of publisher new books (the list markup is usually 500-1000% on used and remainder books compared to 75-100% on new books). Comparing Powell's' business model to BN's is like comparing CVS's to Wal Mart - yes, they're both nominally serving the same customer base, but run entirely different business models. Apples and Oranges.

 

And pretending Riggio is going to usher back in the age of "books and only books" is ignoring the past - BN launched music, VHS/DVD, video game, gift, puzzle, board game, and coffee departments and displays during his last tenure at the helm. He's a smart businessman, he knows how the winds are blowing.

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keriflur
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Re: Nook placement in stores

[ Edited ]

flyingtoastr wrote:

keriflur wrote:

Actually, two that I know of that are doing very well are Elliott Bay Bookstore and Powell's downtown store.  Powell's is bigger than any B&N I've ever been to, with the possible exception of the B&N on Union Square in NYC, and Elliott Bay is bigger than both of my remaining local B&Ns.

 

So... what's the math on that?  Maybe that good customer service and a relationship with the neighborhood sell books?  Maybe that discount isn't the way to go in this market?  Or maybe it's simply that if you want good numbers, you need to think about more than just numbers.


I don't know much of anything about Elliot Bay, but Powell's specializes in used books, which have margins far in excess of publisher new books (the list markup is usually 500-1000% on used and remainder books compared to 75-100% on new books). Comparing Powell's' business model to BN's is like comparing CVS's to Wal Mart - yes, they're both nominally serving the same customer base, but run entirely different business models. Apples and Oranges.

 

And pretending Riggio is going to usher back in the age of "books and only books" is ignoring the past - BN launched music, VHS/DVD, video game, gift, puzzle, board game, and coffee departments and displays during his last tenure at the helm. He's a smart businessman, he knows how the winds are blowing.


First off, Powells does not specialize in used books. Powells sells both.  As does B&N.  So not apples and oranges.  Second, considering that Powells is doing fairly well (and has expansion plans), might the mixed used/new model be a better model than new + random items that we can all buy for less at Walmart or Target?  Wouldn't a smart business man be able to see that?

 

Elliott Bay, AFAIK, only sells new books.  They have recently expanded into a new location, and every time I've been in there I've had to wait in line to pay (they have 3 or 4 registers, all manned). The place is always  packed. While they do have sales tables, most of what they sell is sold at cover price, no markdowns at all. So it's not a discount model, it's a premium experience model.

flyingtoastr
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Re: Nook placement in stores

BN does not sell used books via their retail stores (except in a few special locations).

 

There's a difference between "BN should get into the used book market" (which I agree they SHOULD) and "BN should ditch everything except for books". The first is a good idea, the second is a recipe for disaster unless they can shed enough unproductive square footage to work within such low margins (which would, at this point, pretty much require entering bankruptsy to break leases).

 

Most of what BN sells is also at list price. Bestsellers (discounted titles) are a very very small segment of BN's sales; less than 5%, last I checked. Again, there's a difference between the argument that BN should be investing in a premium experience with knowledgable employees and locally driven promotions and mechandising (which I again agree with), and saying BN should ditch everything but the DTB's.

 

BN simply can't afford to be only bringing in money soley from a low margin catagory that is in secular decline. It isn't feasable at their scale.

 

Incidentally, with a little digging I found that Powell's recently fired 31 of their employees (~6%) amid slowing sales and have no plans for any physical expansion at this time. Since they have fewer than 500 employees they aren't required to file public income reports with the SEC, so I wasn't able to find out any more financial information, but in their press release announcing the new CEO they hired last week they did refer to the current market as "challenging".

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keriflur
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Re: Nook placement in stores

[ Edited ]

Powells currently has plans underway to expand their downtown store.  And I wasn't debating whether the market was challenging, simply pointing out that they have more square footage in one store than multiple B&Ns combined and aren't hurting anywhere near as bad as B&N.  And they're doing it without selling their soul to the god of bad puzzles and Toys'R'Us.

 

And BTW, I've bought used books at more than one B&N, so, yes, they do sell used books at multiple locations.  But odds are I'll never buy a used book there again, since they don't seem to have much in books at all anymore.

flyingtoastr
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Re: Nook placement in stores

Let's turn this around.

 

Instead of me defending BN's tactics, why don't you tell me why they're wrong. Tell me how BN can be profitable keeping the same retail footprint and backend infrastructure while cutting out the only market segments they have that are gowing in favor of a single segment that is in rapid secular decline. I'm curious how you would solve this problem.

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keriflur
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Re: Nook placement in stores

[ Edited ]

Quite simply, get back to core competency, and do it better than anyone else.

 

Being mediocre at everything you do is a sure fire road to failure.

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Larryb52
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Re: Nook placement in stores

here's how BN gets profitable , its a book store, so concentrate on that. Get rid of the junk. KISS method they should dump the large tablet, yes its nice but they are not in position to catch Amazon and Apple and so movies apps etc should just be of last concern. Keep the 7" tablet but open it up to google store so apps are available cuts down costs & get back to updating e ink readers , most e readers IMHO use this type reader more than any and FWIW I have both the 7" and the simple touch and glow models. Bring the help desk to the front of the store and put people in it , I have stood there waiting for what seems like forever trying to get help. OH get rid of allowing folks to take books for sale off the shelf and sit in the coffee shop and read, DUH its not a library you want it buy it browse to you hearts content. All I can say BN is not the store it was in 2010 and it needs to get back to basics or trying to be the jack of all trades but the master of none will doom them. Sorry to rant I like the idea of a book store I don't like to think they will fail but they are headed that way...

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patgolfneb
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Re: Nook placement in stores

To me Flyingtoaster and Kerifleur are making two separate business elements either or, they are not. What Toaster is emphasizing is what I call business discipline. You must have a product mix, overhead, and labor costs that make sense. 

 

 

Kerifleur, to me is asking what does a business stand for, why would I choose to shop there. This is the tougher one for established business concerns. Walmart every day low prices. Target, decent prices with a bit of flair. 

 

BN is it about books? Yes and no. I think in it's heyday was a destination experience. The focus on kids has hurt that. BN has to make itself more Target, not Walmart. Amazon wins if BN goes that route. How? By trying to select merchandise that is still seen as a bit upscale, clever, sophisticated. Second try to separate the kids commotion from the rest of the store. I would arrange the store so that there was a buffer zone. Finally I would replace dvd etc with prints, decorative objects, vases, near the cafe and books sections. BN  could stand for products appealing to our emotional enrichment, books are core to that, build with complementary products.

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bobstro
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Re: Nook placement in stores

B&N should quit devaluing the one area where they can compete with Amazon on books: the stores. They should increase the synergy between eBooks and stores instead of segregating and dividing them. Give me a compelling reason to visit the store often, even if only because I have the NOOK app.  Quit differentiating between NOOK device owners and NOOK book readers. Clean up, fix and UNIFY the NOOK reader software across all platforms. Quit fighting a hardware battle that B&N is clearly losing. Focus on READERS (customers) not DEVICES.  

 

If the kiddie toys and games generate profit, sure, keep them as they move towards this strategy. Let the market decide which generates more demand, but for Peters sake, make books and eBooks part of the store strategy. Right now B&N is taking the stance that, since their print book strategy is in decline, they have to abandon readers. If not readers, who is B&N's demographic? 

flyingtoastr
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Re: Nook placement in stores


keriflur wrote:

Quite simply, get back to core competency, and do it better than anyone else.

 

Being mediocre at everything you do is a sure fire road to failure.


Define the "best" experience.

 

Some people would say the best bookstore is one that has the most titles. Some would say it's the one that has the most helpful staff. Some would say it's the ones with the most plush chairs to spend hours dozing on. I would personally say it's the one with the large event areas with all sorts of author signings and readings.

 

"Best" is a very loaded term.

 

More importantly, you still haven't illustrated a profitable path for BN. Remember, the physical book industry was already well along in decline before BN started to heavily diversify. So unless you're saying that BN can reverse a trend that has been going on for the best part of a decade by simply stocking more books, your plan doesn't solve any of BN's issues.

flyingtoastr
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Re: Nook placement in stores


bobstro wrote:

B&N should quit devaluing the one area where they can compete with Amazon on books: the stores. They should increase the synergy between eBooks and stores instead of segregating and dividing them. Give me a compelling reason to visit the store often, even if only because I have the NOOK app.  Quit differentiating between NOOK device owners and NOOK book readers. Clean up, fix and UNIFY the NOOK reader software across all platforms. Quit fighting a hardware battle that B&N is clearly losing. Focus on READERS (customers) not DEVICES.  

 

If the kiddie toys and games generate profit, sure, keep them as they move towards this strategy. Let the market decide which generates more demand, but for Peters sake, make books and eBooks part of the store strategy. Right now B&N is taking the stance that, since their print book strategy is in decline, they have to abandon readers. If not readers, who is B&N's demographic? 


http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook-barnes-and-noble-ebook-gift-offer/379003852

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keriflur
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Re: Nook placement in stores


flyingtoastr wrote:

keriflur wrote:

Quite simply, get back to core competency, and do it better than anyone else.

 

Being mediocre at everything you do is a sure fire road to failure.


Define the "best" experience.

 

Some people would say the best bookstore is one that has the most titles. Some would say it's the one that has the most helpful staff. Some would say it's the ones with the most plush chairs to spend hours dozing on. I would personally say it's the one with the large event areas with all sorts of author signings and readings.

 

"Best" is a very loaded term.

 

More importantly, you still haven't illustrated a profitable path for BN. Remember, the physical book industry was already well along in decline before BN started to heavily diversify. So unless you're saying that BN can reverse a trend that has been going on for the best part of a decade by simply stocking more books, your plan doesn't solve any of BN's issues.


Well, "best" would be the one that has all of these things.  Did I mention Elliott Bay and Powells?  They have all of these things.  Frankly, I think you've made a great list.

 

According to a new article released today, sales are up across the board, print included, for the book industry.  So "steady decline" might not be so steady after all.  Regardless, assuming the industry has no growth, or decline picks up again, basic economic theory states that as sales decrease, sellers will be forced out of the business until a new normal is found.  That does NOT mean that B&N has to be one of those sellers forced out.  What it does mean is that B&N needs to be better than the competition.  And that means they need to focus on all the things you mentioned above, because those are the things that they are NOT doing that their competitors are.

 

The bookstores I've been to that seem constantly packed, with sale lines even at off hours, are the ones that do all four of the items you've listed above.  Comfy chairs, worktables and the like foster a sense of community, as do signings.  Signings, strong and varied selection combined with curation, and knowledgeable booksellers who are avid readers and know how to handsell lead to a clientele of booklovers who will keep coming back and will tell their bookloving friends about the store.

 

I'm not saying B&N should about face and drop all the non-book items cold turkey.  I'm saying that the focus seems to be on diversification for the sake of safety, and it's leading to mediocrity.  If B&N decided to focus on their core competency, bookselling, and they upped their efforts on the things you listed, the need for the non-book items would go away.  Besides, some stores are going to need that space for additional stock and events, and in areas with higher concentrations of stores, some of the stores will need to downsize to smaller locations as their leases expire, to be more inline with industry sales levels (not every store needs event space as long as at least one store in the area has it, and small, highly curated bookstores do tend to attract loyal clientele).

 

BTW, I completely forgot about Third Place Books, which has two locations in the Seattle area.  Their primary store is bigger than my local B&N and around the same size as the downtown Seattle B&N.  They also do all four of the things you listed, and they always seem to have crowds.

 

A fifth item that I'd add to your list is increasing sales of used books in-store.  Used is a huge draw and has higher margins than new, and having used available brings in customers who will also buy new.

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bobstro
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Re: Nook placement in stores

That's a small step, FT. A good one at least. 

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Mercury_Glitch
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Re: Nook placement in stores

You want to know how B&N can become profitable?

 

Start cutting costs in the right places.

 

These places are not

 

1) store merchandise

 

2) store staff payroll

 

3) store payroll hours

 

Cutting those down gets quick but small returns that will cost you in the long run.  Here's what they'll cost

 

1) shipping -IF- you convince the customer to order the book to the store.  Which is less common today than it was a few years ago.

 

2) Staff.  Pay us less and we'll quit, there are other jobs out there.  Good luck running a store with an almost constant turn over in staff.

 

3) Morale.  A lot of people over look this as unimportant.  The people who do who also own businesses likely don't stay in business for very long unless they sell something that is simply impossible to do without and is hard to get elsewhere.  An overworked staff is less helpful, less responsive, and will drive your sales down.

 

Where should they cut? 

 

Enforce those who are salaried to work full time hours.  Paying a store manager to not be in the store and not caring unless the store fails to make plan is a really awesome way to lose money. 

 

Stop giving away merchandise to employees who never set foot in a store.  

 

Stop buying diamonds for the LP regional managers when their region makes an LP goal.  

 

Stop sending regional managers on retreats.  They've already done this for store managers, discontinue the practice all the way up to the top.  

 

Basically cut down on all spending that does not relate DIRECTLY to improving sales, or the customer experience.  And I'll grant there are many ways things can relate directly to those goals.  However I have to imagine that someone sitting down with the books would be able to sort out good expenses versus bad ones.

 

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Recently my store, and I gather many others, have switched phone systems.  I have no idea what we were supposed to gain from this switch.  What we have gained is a headache.  Phones don't work, many phones wont let you answer them, some just wont ring ever.

 

-

 

Other things B&N can do

 

1) partner with Microsoft or Google or 'x' company and split Nook.  Work a deal that allows the retail stores to sell and support the device but have the other company develop it.  Cuts R&D costs way down and puts Nook in the hands of a company that -KNOWS- technology.  Even partnering up with Kobo would be a wise move (for both companies).  Takes the pressure off B&N and gives Kobo a retail foothold in the US.

 

2) Improve interstore connectivity.  Allow us to transfer calls between stores.  Allow us to (once again) see customer orders from other stores.  Show us a stock count on the product that's supposed to be in the other stores (it may not be perfect but it's better than the 'sure this is in stock' we have right now.    Allow us to see the textbook stores.

 

 

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern.
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TriscuitCracker
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Registered: ‎02-27-2013

Re: Nook placement in stores

I agree with all this 100%, especially the staff and morale. Don't pay the staff enough and add cutting part time benefits to that.  Used to be 75% of the staff were veterans with 5+ years of experience, even if they were just regular booksellers and not supervisors.  No more. Constant turnover.

 

I also wish we could look up store inventory at other stores more accuratly.  And we have the exact same phone problem lol you are not alone!

 

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RHWright
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Re: Nook placement in stores


Mercury_Glitch wrote:

You want to know how B&N can become profitable?

 

Start cutting costs in the right places.

 

[...]

 

Where should they cut? 

 

Enforce those who are salaried to work full time hours.  Paying a store manager to not be in the store and not caring unless the store fails to make plan is a really awesome way to lose money. 

 

This sounds like a store-specific gripe more than an endemic problem. Believe me, I've been there, with a GM with no set schedule who showed up when he wanted, for as long as he wanted and felt justified because he worked 60 hours last week to only show up 20 hours this week. But overall, the numerous managers I worked with over the years were as hard or harder working than the staff. (There was a time when AMs at Borders were salaried and working 60+ hours. We figured it out one time and they were making an equivalent per hour rate that was less than our starting booksellers.) Don't let a few rotten apples spoil your perspective. But the company could better spend money by identifying these individuals and giving the position to someone who will not only "do their time" but be hardworking and dedicated. The pool of educated candidates is out there.

 

Stop giving away merchandise to employees who never set foot in a store.

 

Not sure what you mean by this, as I've been out for a few years. A gripe that the buyers get all the promos?

 

Stop buying diamonds for the LP regional managers when their region makes an LP goal.

 

That does seem extravagant. But then compensation and bonuses at that level usally do. It would probably be a better investment to find some way to reward all district employees if the LP/shrink goal is met. After all, the first line of defense for shrink is the rank and file.

 

Stop sending regional managers on retreats.  They've already done this for store managers, discontinue the practice all the way up to the top.  

 

Agreed. This is an extravagence given the market realities.

 

Basically cut down on all spending that does not relate DIRECTLY to improving sales, or the customer experience.  And I'll grant there are many ways things can relate directly to those goals.  However I have to imagine that someone sitting down with the books would be able to sort out good expenses versus bad ones.

 

This is a little tougher. What directly improves sales? More varied inventory on hand? More booksellers on the floor? More training? How do you put an ROI on handselling? You can't do everything that's a good idea, so how do you decide what gives the most bang for the buck?

 

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Recently my store, and I gather many others, have switched phone systems.  I have no idea what we were supposed to gain from this switch.  What we have gained is a headache.  Phones don't work, many phones wont let you answer them, some just wont ring ever.

 

This is so typical. Implement a new system with little/no analysis of how it will impact everyone's workflow.

 

Other things B&N can do

 

1) partner with Microsoft or Google or 'x' company and split Nook.  Work a deal that allows the retail stores to sell and support the device but have the other company develop it.  Cuts R&D costs way down and puts Nook in the hands of a company that -KNOWS- technology.  Even partnering up with Kobo would be a wise move (for both companies).  Takes the pressure off B&N and gives Kobo a retail foothold in the US.

 

2) Improve interstore connectivity.  Allow us to transfer calls between stores.  Allow us to (once again) see customer orders from other stores.  Show us a stock count on the product that's supposed to be in the other stores (it may not be perfect but it's better than the 'sure this is in stock' we have right now.    Allow us to see the textbook stores.

 

 


 

 

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Mercury_Glitch
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Re: Nook placement in stores

I've experienced it in my store, heard about it from former coworkers who are now at other stores in the same city, and from new coworkers who've transfered from out of state stores.  I don't think it's -every- store manager but I do think that it's probably an issue that should be looked in to.

 

 

And yes, that those in the corporate offices get a lot of the promos, the overstock from displays, etc.  I'm not saying give this to the store employees either.  Instead sell the things at a discounted rate to -all- employees.  You make money, employees get a break on prices.

 

And finally to the directly affects the customer experience, it's more weed out the things that really do not affect the customer experience.  Some of which I mentioned, i.e. fixing things that aren't broken, sending people on retreats, etc. it's money spent that shouldn't have been and sometimes (phones) affects the customer experience negatively. 

 

One example are the yearly store relays.  This serves very little point from a store end.  You end up using up store hours moving sections around only to have to then spend store hours for people to get used to the new layout, and you confuse your regular customers.  The upshot is that you may be able to optimize a section slightly better.  This usually doesn't end up being the case for most sections they just aren't in the same spot anymore.  Keep in mind the company pays for this several ways.

 

1) they pay someone to make the layout

2) they pay the staff to implement the layout

3) they pay the staff as they get used to the new layout (less of an issue)

4) they confuse regulars and thus increase the work of the staff

 

By the time everything is running as smoothly as possible it's about half way until the next store relay. 

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern.
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keriflur
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Re: Nook placement in stores

How do you put an ROI on handselling?

 


I can't remember the last time someone at a B&N even attempted to help me find something let alone handsold me a book.