Posts Tagged 'Barnes & Noble'

Sports Authority: What do its problems mean for retail?

Sports Authority recently announced a chapter 11 filing as well as its plans to close or sell many of its locations. RetailWire panelists had a chance recently to dicuss what these developments mean for the broader world of retailing:

There are two issues at play here: Yes, there is an overall recognition by brick-and-mortar retailers that they have too much square footage as their own “omnichannel” business cannibalizes their physical stores. It’s an issue for all kinds of retailers, from Walmart to Kohl’s to Macy’s.

But Sports Authority’s struggles are symptomatic of the problems plaguing “niche” big box stores for several years. There has been a survivor (Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble) and a failure (Circuit City, Linens & Things, Borders) in just about every niche you can think of — and even the “winners” are struggling with too much square footage.

Underlying the consolidation in the sports apparel and equipment industry? First, the impact of Amazon and other online competitors on just about every retail segment. Second, the push into activewear by every department store and apparel specialist you can name.

Advertisements

Amazon Books: A toe in the brick-and-mortar water

Amazon has opened a physical bookstore in Seattle (with some recent coverage of the shopping experience in the New York Times. I commented recently at RetailWire about this development, and I see it as a harbinger of bigger things…as usual with Amazon:

For those who have declared the brick-and-mortar store dead, this is convincing evidence to the contrary. Obviously Amazon sees an opportunity given its own dominance in the category and Barnes & Noble’s fading importance. At the same time, there is evidence that the appetite for “real” books (vs. e-books) is rebounding.

As an exercise in true omnichannel retail, let’s see how Amazon applies its mastery of pricing, assortments, logistics and data science (in a category that it understands very well) to a “real store.” From Amazon Books, who knows where this could lead?

After Apple: Will e-book prices fall again?

In a widely publicized case, Apple was ruled to have colluded with e-book publishers on retail prices. The question under discussion today at RetailWire: Will this cause a massive change in e-book pricing, for the benefit of the consumer? I don’t think so, at least not as long as Amazon drives the overall tone of the marketplace:

I don’t see a big change in e-book pricing resulting from this ruling. A recent news story documented the diminishing discounts being offered by Amazon, and anybody who buys books on their Kindles can attest to this. There may be more deep discounting of a handful of best-sellers, but overall Amazon continues to gain pricing power especially with B&N pulling back from the e-reader market.

Does Barnes & Noble even need bricks & mortar?

RetailWire panelists commented this week on B&N’s announced wave of store closings over the next several years. This raises the question of whether Barnes even needs a brick-and-mortar presence. I argue that it’s essential to B&N’s brand identity:

Without brick-and-mortar stores, Barnes & Noble doesn’t have a future. There are simply too many other top-of-mind places to buy e-books (Amazon of course, but also Apple) for B&N to keep any sort of meaningful share without a physical footprint.

There is some evidence that bookstores’ business is starting to revive, at least for some independent booksellers. If the only company with a national presence can’t figure out how to compete, who can? And if weeding out some unproductive locations helps B&N survive, it’s a good move.

Who is in Amazon’s line of Fire?

Amazon made headlines this month when they introduced the Kindle Fire at $199. RetailWire panelists weighed in on whether Apple or another competitor was the real target here. My opinion:

I agree with the premise that Barnes & Noble is the biggest short-term target of the Kindle Fire. And keep in mind that Amazon also launched three other Kindle models, including a basic wifi-only model with an aggressive price of $79. It’s a powerful flanking strategy for the Kindle brand, and also allows Amazon to develop a more sophisticated tablet in the future that can compete more effectively against the iPad.

Amazon starts a brushfire

Plenty of comments at RetailWire (including mine, below) about Amazon’s introduction of the Kindle Fire tablet. I see it as part of a broader strategy, in which Barnes & Noble (not Apple) is the real target:

I agree with the premise that Barnes & Noble is the biggest short-term target of the Kindle Fire. And keep in mind that Amazon also launched three other Kindle models yesterday, including a basic wifi-only model with an aggressive price of $79. It’s a powerful flanking strategy for the Kindle brand, and also allows Amazon to develop a more sophisticated tablet in the future that can compete more effectively against the iPad.

Borders: The post-mortem

No surprise that Borders recently threw in the towel and announced the closure of its remaining stores. My point of view, from a recent RetailWire commentary:

Barnes & Noble may cherry-pick some of the remaining sites where they have an opportunity to fill in a market or enter another one. And it’s also possible that an independent bookseller might find a suitable location and a ready-made audience. But the writing was on the wall when Borders began its Ch. 11 proceedings and went through its first wave of store closings. It left Borders with little “critical mass” to support its remaining infrastructure and less relevance to the book publishing industry.

Of course, the underlying issue is the change in technology that made most traditional booksellers about as relevant as record stores. The advent first of e-commerce and then of e-books changed the marketplace and left little room for “second best.”

 


Advertisements