Category Archives: Merchandising

Borders Changing Layout

John at Brand Autopsy shifts our attention to Borders bookstores’ new approach to displaying their merchandise. By showing more front covers and less binders, they’ll have to decrease inventory but tests show they’ll increase sales.

A few observations:

  • I won’t call this brilliant, because it just seems too close to common sense to go that far. But it is breaking tradition, and it’s applying the same thought behind web designers requiring less clicks to complete an order. Not only do we judge a book by its cover; we don’t even consider a book until we see it’s cover. Good move, Borders.
  • In making this move, Borders is going to have to reduce inventory by 5-10%. This should make everyone happy. For whatever reason, we’ve bought into the larger variety of products means better business. The more stuff you’ve got to sell, the more you will sell. Which isn’t true. They won’t even miss that inventory – the article mentions that most of them only sell one copy per store per year. That can’t be worth carrying.
  • Barnes & Noble, it says, has no plans of reducing its inventory. I don’t know if that means anything or not. B&N might be taking the strategic position of carrying more books than anyone else because they’re the only company that can, and they definitely can’t be seen as falling in line behind their main competitor’s new promising tactic. However, if Borders’ sales go up 9%, as indicated, B&N is going to whip something out pretty fresh and pretty quick.

This new tactic by Borders is an excellent example of simple innovations. It doesn’t require an R&D dept. You don’t need a 6-month long “innovation cycle.” You just try it, and if you like it, you do it more.