Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Borders is closing stores, adding Google tools and teaming with MeetUp - Is this a winning strategy? Probably not..

I read yesterday on GalleyCat that Borders Group plans to close 17 Borders superstores nationwide after the holidays including one in Michigan. They also mentioned that Borders announced "they will use Google’s Local Availability tool and Meetup Everywhere to create a more interactive shopping experience."

The reason Borders is taking these steps is obvious - Borders is in trouble (On the second quarter Borders Group lost $46.7 million - this was the fifth time in six quarters they posted a loss) and is trying to cut costs and find a strategy that will transform its brick and mortar stores back into an asset.

But is using Google's Local Availability feature and teeming with Meetup the strategy that will make Borders' remaining stores stronger and revive the company's profitability? I don't think so.

Mike Edwards, CEO of Borders explained these steps in their press release:

"Borders has recently introduced a number of customer-focused programs designed to create an exceptional shopping experience both in-store and online. Google's Local Availability feature is yet another great service we're offering that enables our customers to quickly search for a book at their local Borders store. We're making it easier than ever for customers to find the perfect gift when they are on the go this holiday season.

We're also excited to team with Meetup to provide our customers with the ability to find our enriching in-store events and organize their own activities at Borders. Our stores are natural community hubs, where our customers gather together to celebrate books — our participation in Meetup will be a great avenue for fostering an even stronger sense of community around the joy of reading."

The Google feature can be valuable, but it has more potential to boost online sales rather than sales at stores. The collaboration with Meetup is also a nice idea, but Borders stores as 'natural community hubs'? somehow it sounds more natural when we're talking about local independent bookstores and not stores that belong to the second largest book retailer in the U.S. I can understand why Borders wants to become a local hub, but I really don't think it will happen as is not a natural part of Borders' DNA, no matter how you look at it.

In all, my conclusion is that Borders is still far from having a solid strategy for its brick and mortar stores. They're trying, no doubt about that, and it looks like they're even trying harder than B&N, but it's not enough. To maintain their position in the book retail market they'll have to come up with a much better strategy. Until then, we'll probably see more Borders stores closing.

More related articles:
Is there a future for Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores? Is it a green one?, Eco-Libris Blog

Can monetary incentives + local benefits generate a brighter future for independent bookstores?, Eco-Libris Blog

You can find more resources on the future of bookstores on our website at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!