19 Replies Latest reply on May 12, 2013 6:10 AM by Omnigeek

    Nook placement in stores

    BFCoughlin

      There are three B&N stores near us.  We frequent two of them--we're at one or the otherof them a few weekends a month, at least during the colder weather (which is most of the time, here in New England!)  Until a few weeks ago, when one walked into a store, the Nook display was up front and center, and one couldn't pause in front of it long enough to strip off one's hat & gloves before an eager employee asked if one had any questions about the Nook. In the last month, the Nook displays have been shifted back.  At the big store in West Hartford Center, it's now opposite the cafe.  At the other, it's way back in the Remote Zones--you have to go looking for it. At both stores, I've had to go looking for help to answer questions about my Nooks.  Now, when I find someone, he and/or she has been wonderful.  When I asked why the Nooks were moved back, I was told that Corporate had ordered it.

       

      But the last time I was in a store (about my overheating HD+, which was replaced on the spot with a brand new one--so services was great!)...*I* was the one who answered questions for someone interested in buying a new HD+ and essentially sold her on it.  Whens he went to the counter, the employee( a great guy)  asked if she had any questions, and she gestured back to me and said, "No, she answered them."  He smiled and said, "Yeah, she's one of our regulars."  I don't mind--I really do love my Nooks and I'm happy wioth B&N--but I worry about why Nook is now being almost hidden and certainly not being promoted.

        • Re: Nook placement in stores
          bklvr896
          I was in two BN last weekend and the Nook displays were still upfront. How recently did this happen?
          • Re: Nook placement in stores

            That's interesting.

             

            Might be that some stores are being asked to de-emphasize the Nook if Nooks aren't selling much in those stores.

             

            Might be just a general decision to de-emphasize the Nook.

             

            *******

             

            My gut feeling is that B&N is done with Nook hardware and/or is shifting over to Windows 8 based Nooks.

             

            I really don't see 'long-term' moves and see lot sof short-term moves like sales and such which seem to be a clearing up and cleaning out of things.

             

            Just my 2 cents.

              • Re: Nook placement in stores
                Omnigeek

                5ivedom wrote:

                My gut feeling is that B&N is done with Nook hardware and/or is shifting over to Windows 8 based Nooks.

                 


                You keep pushing the idea of Windows 8-based Nooks ... why?  I've seen NO evidence of any such shift.  Is it just wishful thinking or have you seen some tech trade info that shows they're designing or contracting out the design of a platform like that?

                 

                  • Re: Nook placement in stores

                    Wishful thinking?

                     

                    I have 1.5 years worth of Nook Apps coded in Android. Why would I WISH for Windows 8 based Nooks?

                     

                    It's what the signs are pointing at. The GIANT signs i.e.

                     

                    1) Microsoft investing $300+$300million in Nook Media and getting 18%.

                     

                    2) Constant Rumors of 7" Tablets with Windows 8 and perhaps made by B&N.

                     

                    3) Android failing for B&N because of all the stupid Android decisions like MTP and because 'Android' makes people think 'free apps' and 'free everything'.

                     

                    4) Current troubles with Nook HD and HD+ which would be less if they had a BIG app store.

                     

                    5) The money and other things Microsoft will dangle in front of B&N to make Windows 8 Tablets.

                     

                    *****

                     

                    Think of it this way - Microsoft's Azure Cloud COmputing Platform is now a $1 billion a year revenues business (supposedly). That adds to - Windows, Office, Server Tools, Sharepoint, Surface (run rate of $1 billion+ easily), Xbox, and 3-4 others.

                     

                    For Microsoft, adding Nook Media as another (albeit partially owned) billion dollar business makes a LOT of sense.

                     

                    As does getting store space in every B&N store.

                     

                    For B&N, partnering up with Microsoft makes a lot of sense. Microsoft was willing to lose $1 billion a quarter on search and did for years.

                    Losing a few hundred million a quarter on Nook devices - Not an issue.

                     

                    Because even 1 million less iPad and Kindle Fire sales a quarter means 1 million less Amazon customers or 1 million less Apple customers.

                     

                    And in the meantime Microsoft can keep improving its software and hardware. In the best case Nook revives using Windows 8 and takes up 10% market share in tablets. Meanwhile Surface takes up 15%. Suddenly Windows 8 has 25% tablet share (while IDC was projecting 17% market share by 2016).

                • Re: Nook placement in stores

                  If Len Riggio ends up buying the company back excluding Nook I'd like to believe he'll improve the bookstore experience with more stock and more titles. Go back to the basics.  I think we should get rid of the tablets all together and just sell e-readers and try to put the Nook App on as many devices as possible. Also include a 5% off all ebooks if you buy a Membership.  I miss the days when it was all about bookselling and now it's all about the sales and bn membership numbers.  The whole point of being a bookseller is having those half hour conversations of "Have you read this? it's amazing!" with customers.

                   

                  There's nothing better than having a customer come to you with a book or series you enthusiastically recommended and saying it was wonderful. You've made a reader friend, and they'll certainly come back and buy more simply becasue they had a great experience and they've got an entirely new series to dive into that they otherwise would never have found.

                   

                  You just can't replicate that online or through a "related titles" graphic.

                   

                    • Re: Nook placement in stores
                      keriflur

                      TriscuitCracker wrote:

                      If Len Riggio ends up buying the company back excluding Nook I'd like to believe he'll improve the bookstore experience with more stock and more titles. Go back to the basics.  I think we should get rid of the tablets all together and just sell e-readers and try to put the Nook App on as many devices as possible. Also include a 5% off all ebooks if you buy a Membership.  I miss the days when it was all about bookselling and now it's all about the sales and bn membership numbers.  The whole point of being a bookseller is having those half hour conversations of "Have you read this? it's amazing!" with customers.

                       

                      There's nothing better than having a customer come to you with a book or series you enthusiastically recommended and saying it was wonderful. You've made a reader friend, and they'll certainly come back and buy more simply becasue they had a great experience and they've got an entirely new series to dive into that they otherwise would never have found.

                       

                      You just can't replicate that online or through a "related titles" graphic.

                       


                      I completely support all of this and would give more than 3 kudos if I could.

                        • Re: Nook placement in stores
                          flyingtoastr

                          This forum is really starting to make me believe that economics courses should be mandated in High School...

                            • Re: Nook placement in stores
                              keriflur

                              flyingtoastr wrote:

                              This forum is really starting to make me believe that economics courses should be mandated in High School...


                              Youd be amazed what economic analysis actually shows.  When you pull a board of directors out and actually look at long term growth and customer trends, I suspect you'll find that having bookstores be bookstores is actually more profitable than making a halfway effort to be Target.  There is a lot of historical evidence toward core competency as the path to success.

                               

                              And I didn't take econ in high school.  I majored in it in college.

                          • Re: Nook placement in stores
                            RHWright

                            @TriscuitCracker: I agree with some of your ideals, but ...

                             

                            get rid of the tablets all together and just sell e-readers

                             

                            I, and many people, prefer a dedicated eInk reader. Still, the market (at least today), seems to prefer the multi-use tablet and smart phone platforms. So it probably isn't a good idea to ditch tablets altogether.

                             

                            try to put the Nook App on as many devices as possible

                             

                            This might be a viable alternative to making/marketing their own hardware in the long run, if they can get more exclusive pre-installed deals with manufacturers/carriers. My Android phone came pre-installed with the Kindle app. Similar deals (especially, say, on Windows tablets & phones) might be an alternative strategy for NOOK on the tablet side.

                             

                            Also include a 5% off all ebooks if you buy a Membership

                             

                            One, I don't see that happening. B&N's history has generally been to reduce net benefits, not expand them. If they gave 5% here, they'd end up taking that value out of the program somewhere else. Two, you seem to decry the focus on membership sales later on, so why promote it here?

                             

                            I miss the days when it was all about bookselling and now it's all about the sales and bn membership numbers.  The whole point of being a bookseller is having those half hour conversations of "Have you read this? it's amazing!" with customers.

                             

                            It's always been about sales. I think there has been a gradual disproportionate emphasis on membership and other add-on sales, as this is higher margin easy money. One of the most enjoyable parts of being a bookseller are those deep conversations, but that's certainly not the whole point. It's a job. There's work to be done. Shipment to unload, shelves to stock, re-shelves to do, messes to clean up, returns to pull & pack, sales to ring, etc. And, one would hope, more than 16 customers to help in an 8 hour shift.

                             

                            Yes, B&N and many companies have lost sight of "old fashioned" customer service, where relationships are built, loyalty earned, and years of sales made. But a part of that is market changes. People don't always want that level of service anymore. In, out, do you have this book I already know I want. Done. But I feel you. Too little time seems to be spent, or even allowed, in B&N stores for dedicated service for customers who want it and would spend real $$ if they can get it.

                             

                            On the flip side. I've seen plenty of booksellers waste time conversing with customers and not do anything to build that relationship and, oh, sell them something. They seem willfully oblivious to the fact that some people just want to talk and seek out anyone (retail employees included) to jaw with.

                             

                            There's nothing better than having a customer come to you with a book or series you enthusiastically recommended and saying it was wonderful. You've made a reader friend, and they'll certainly come back and buy more simply becasue they had a great experience and they've got an entirely new series to dive into that they otherwise would never have found.

                             

                            Agreed. But I find most booksellers woefully under-read in general, even if they may have a genre or two they could go in-depth in. This is symptomatic to the culture at large, and not just how stores train them and allow them to operate.

                             

                            You just can't replicate that online or through a "related titles" graphic.

                             

                            I used to feel that way to. But the algorithms on Amazon and Goodread have started to get really close. :smileyvery-happy:

                             

                            Take my opinion for what it's worth—just that, an opinion. Know that it's informed by extensive experience in bookselling with both B&N and Borders, as bookseller, lead, trainer, and manager (with various responsibilities/rotations/departments). All told, I have almost 15 years of bookstore experience.

                             

                            I would love to see B&N be able to go back to "old fashioned" bookselling and a focus on their traditional core. But I don't think the market wants that.

                             

                            B&N (and Borders, in its day) seem to lag behind market trends. They tend to be over-conservative. Both in adopting new ideas and dropping ones that no longer make sense.

                             

                            I don't think stripping it to just the basics is the answer. But getting out ahead and being seen as the leader again will take some careful consideration of what of that core still appeals to their market and where innovations need to be made.

                             

                            I think a good step would be pulling the plug on a dedicated music/DVD department. They generally can't compete on price. And they've cut way back on the depth/breadth of selection, which was kind of their selling point.

                             

                            They need to build a better integration of stores and mobile/online. They need to maximize on the advantages being a b&m store provides and not let the real estate costs suck them down. No joke, B&N has a major investment in square footage and needs to find ways to maximize revenue per sq. ft. I think they have made some strides and many misfires in that regard with too much of an emphasis on the quick, easy, add-on sale.

                              • Re: Nook placement in stores

                                -RHWRIGHT

                                 

                                I do agree with your points, and yes you are right it HAS always been about sales, what with readership declining as a whole and the economy the way it is, sales seem to matter so much more because they DO, the company is fighting for its very survival. I have 10 years experience myself.  All the stores in my state are lowering their DVD/music selection or eliminating the sections alltogether, ironically a few of them got rid of their DVD sections a few years ago to make room for Nook kiosks. And the reason I suggested 5% on ebooks (which I know will never happen there's little enough profit margin on ebooks as it is plus I suspect publishers wouldn't allow it) was because it would be a way to differentiate it from Kindle and IBook ebook prices. Give people a reason to go to our stores and our digital library over a competitor. We in the last few years have done very well in Toys and Games from a sales standpoint.  Lately the worst move that's been done out of necessity is that BN is no longer giving health insurance to part time booksellers. The problem with this is that many veteran booksellers left and we just have many part timers who don't ever work long enough to get a real feel for selling books before moving on to their next job, which makes for poorer customer service and ultimately, lost sales.

                                 

                                 

                                And I am an idealist at heart though. :smileyhappy: The company can make it. Just have to change and adapt best we can.

                                • Re: Nook placement in stores
                                  Wulfraed

                                  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?

                              • Re: Nook placement in stores

                                There is an art to good handselling.

                                 

                                1. Always ask what was the last good book they read. What did they like about it? What kind of authors do you like?

                                 

                                2. If they say a genre like "science fiction" ask what kind? Millitary, Space Opera, basic Star Wars/Star Trek, Classic Asimiov. If Mystery do they like dark gritty material like Harlen Coben or light fluff like Evanovich. Etc.

                                 

                                3. Never under any circumstances let any customer read Fifty Shades of Grey. :smileylol:

                                 

                                4. Or with great enthusiasm direct them to a book in a genre they might not have normally thought about and rave about it. I've had much success with selling 1Q84 by Murakami this way to people who have never heard of him.

                                 

                                No matter what, be enthusiastic and look them in the eye and be genuine. Don't act bored or like the customer is taking up your time.

                                 

                                The biggest problem with this is nowadays Barnes is so desperate for hours there is little time to get displays and shelving done and very little time to take available for actual hand selling.

                                 

                                However we are still taught the rules of bookselling and how to hand sell and if you are seen with the same customer you were 30 min ago still talking about books nobody gets yelled at. It just happens less often now in general cause theres so much to get done and so little time and manpower.

                                  • Re: Nook placement in stores
                                    flyingtoastr

                                    I'm well aware of the differences between suggestive selling and book in the hand - it was a response to your point that people at your BN's never helped you find a book. Which is frankly surprising to me. It isn't just bad bookselling, it's bad customer service in general.

                                     

                                    But then again, it really isn't surprising. BN pays lower than Wal Mart, doesn't give their employees any benefits unless you make it into the manager club (which, at least in this area, they pretty much just hire outside for nowadays), and doesn't give enough payroll hours to the stores to actually do their business effectively. BN treats their employees like expendable labour, so it really isn't surprising that their employees don't care.

                                     

                                    It sucks too because I'm sure BN used to be a good company to work for. They used to give merit based raises to everyone. They used to match 401k contributions with preferred shares of company stock so everyone had a reason to drive to do well. They used to offer medical, dental, and PTO to every employee - part time, full time, and management. Now they use a "performance matrix" to determine if you qualify for the massive $.25 raise each fall. There is no profit sharing or stock options for anyone outside of upper management and corporate. There's no incentive pay whatsoever. And last year they cut everyone's benefits except management.

                                     

                                     

                                    If BN took William Lynch's bonuses (~$14 million) from last year and distributed it to the stores it would be enough to add another 40 payroll hours a week to every single store for an entire year. On top of that, he also got a signing bonus of $1.8 million is cash this year just for renewing his contract, and gets an extra $1.5 million when NOOK Media is split from BN and sold (along with 300000 vested shares of BN stock). And employees know this. They know that the CEO is making so much money the board had to change the company bylaws (his compensation went over the allowed cap) while their payroll and benefits are being cut to the bone in the name of "keeping the company profitable". If that doesn't hurt morale and the will to do your job, I don't know what does.

                                     

                                     

                                    Hilariously, I looked up the press release from when my store was opened, bragging about "employing over 100 booksellers" (we have 19, and that's counting people like me who are cross trained and spend more time in specialty departments than on the floor - our total employment is a whopping 39 all included), stocking "over 200000 titles" (we had ~110000 last time I looked, probably less now), and will act as a "community center" with lots of events, signings, and bookfairs (we have exactly one event a year because our DM decided we weren't going to be an "event store" and shuffled all our business to the store she works from).

                                     

                                    My god that post is all over the place.

                                      • Re: Nook placement in stores
                                        BFCoughlin

                                        I am really sorry to hear about such poor working conditions.  The people who work at the B&N store in Farmington CT are fantastic.  I asked about books to read to my 8 year old grandson (he is now in our care once or twice a week and--heartbreakingly--has never been read to before) and I had two people taking me all over the children's section offering suggestions and honing it down as I discussed his needs and interests.  Just this Wednesday, we went in for my huysband's birthday.  He aked for the new Nathaniel Philbrick book, and the person knew what it was and where it was.  She took us right over and, as you said, put the book in John's hand.  When my Nook HD+ was overheating, I was given a brand new one on the spot & they spent the time to set it up for me.  Yes, sometimes I have to wait for someone to be available, but so what?  I pick up a book or magazine to look at while I'm waiting.  My husband & I really love that place and appreciate the people who work there.

                                          • Re: Nook placement in stores
                                            RHWright

                                            Bookseller folks, I know what you mean. Zero seems to have changed since I finally got out in mid-2009. If anything, it sounds like it's going further downhill.

                                             

                                            And, easily 99.9999999% of these problems are at the manager level and above to effect.

                                             

                                            Sure, I've worked with or experienced some lousy booksellers. But most everyone I've ever met/worked with who came in through those doors hired as a bookseller wanted to do a good job. Was excited about working in a book store. Wanted to help customers.

                                             

                                            But the system just seems to inspire burn-out, apathy, and mediocrity. Many fight those demons and sstill give great service. (Barring a few bad days.) Others, I totally understand how you get that way and that the experience has beat you down.

                                             

                                            I wish I had some advice for you. I finally got a job writing, making enough money that I don't even have to work part-time at my local B&N anymore. But that's not really a solution for you or the company.

                                             

                                            Stick in there, I guess. Speak up, politely and professionally. There are many people with deaf ears in the company, but I've worked with some good managers and DMs who truly do have open door policies. At least they did. Who knows if they've stuck in there.

                                             

                                            TO B&N powers-that-be (if this wafts through the ether to you): wise up and start listening to booksellers. One of your most valuable assets, selling points, and unique value propositions for consumers is the strengths and talents of your front line staff. Invest in them. Payroll. Training. Benefits. And the right tools & time to do an excellent job. They have the ear of the customer on a daily, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute basis. You probably won't believe it, but the decline in sales can be just as strongly correlated to a decrease in HR investment than any fluctuations in the economy or marketplace. Your next $100 million dollar idea is out there germinating in that bookseller-customer relationship and you are woefully ignoring it.

                                             

                                              • Re: Nook placement in stores
                                                deesy58

                                                It seems to me that the posters in this thread are describing a phenomenon that is NOT unique to Barnes & Noble.  The process of transferring our nation's wealth to the top 1% of society (including grossly overcompensated corporate managers) is squeezing the dedication and loyalty out of lower-level employees everywhere.  It is happening all across America, and in industries other than Retail.  The loss of benefits described by flyingtoastr is not new.  I first experienced it in 1996 as an IT Director at an automotive aftermarket manufacturing company, then again in 1999 as an IT Director at an aerospace manufacturing company.  Until the American people get fed up with this sorry state of affairs and make fundamental changes to our political systems, don't expect things to get better.  :smileysad:

                                                • Re: Nook placement in stores
                                                  Omnigeek

                                                  I'm sorry to hear the reports of poor management in your stores.  Unfortunately, that problem isn't constrained to B&N or bookstores but runs through corporations, unions and government offices as well.  Apathy and laziness are just as rife among the workers as management too -- when I worked fast food (min wage), I'd have estimated at least 1/3 of the workers weren't even worth minimum wage.

                                                   

                                                  Fortunately, the conditions you describe also aren't universal through bookstores or even B&N.  The Nook guy at my store got promoted to manager, his assistant Nook expert continues to do a good job and they hired another gal who was energetic, helpful and just a wonderful ray of sunshine.  Of course, there are other booksellers on the floor although staffing does seem down a tad.

                                                   

                                                  I don't know how they've done with the Mother's Day Nook promotion but they seemed to have a flood of people when I stopped in on Monday to pick up my HD+.