Borders got some nice coverage of their new concept store format in this USA Today article. This is a tricky proposition since most people heading to a bookstore are looking for, well, books, and not necessarily technology solutions. Then again, it's easy to make the argument that many of these customers are actually looking for solutions...solutions they believe they can find in a book. Having staff on hand to provide more more guidance, particularly on the technology front, isn't a bad idea.
It almost seems like they're going to mimic the popular Genius Bar approach used at the Apple stores; ironically though, according to the article it looks like the Borders staff will gladly help you with all digital music players, except the iPod.
This excerpt caught my eye:
Once this change is completed, the interactive kiosks in Borders' stores will allow customers to do more online shopping in a store and even buy books, if they prefer.
I'm curious to see just how much online shopping these kiosks will enable. And although the social networking aspects of this makeover were touched on in the article, I can't help wonder if free wireless service will continue to be a missing link. After all, lengthier store visits probably have a direct correlation to more in-store transactions, even if it's just for another cup of coffee. It works well for Panera. Starbucks is even going with a pseudo-free wireless model (tied to the use of a Starbucks card), so what's holding Borders back?
The first concept store opens in Ann Arbor today and the full slate of concept store sites planned for 2008 is included as a sidebar item in the USA Today article. I was delighted to see the list includes a Borders store that's currently under construction and only a few miles from my house; it's nice to see central Indiana make the short list on this!
Here's a video interview with Borders CEO George Jones that provides more information about this initiative:
|Borders Ready to Open First Concept Store|