Recently I asked friends on Facebook if they would buy from Barnes & Noble IF B&N offered:
* Amazon book pricing
* Amazon same-day or next-day delivery
* Amazon Prime-like subscription service
Thus far all have said yes, they would buy books from B&N IF they ran B&N online store with efficiency the of Amazon. I asked the question because for more than a decade B&N has run their company as if they expect the Internet to go away: like it was a fad. I have no connection with B&N and I have never worked for the company, but this I know: there are thousands of consumers of books waiting for B&N, Indie Bound, and other bookselling companies and groups to compete on equal terms with Amazon.
The opportunity is there. Will anyone take advantage?
Currently due to COVID, receiving a print book from Amazon can take a week or more. Why? Because Amazon has placed greater importance on COVID-related products and books apparently are not necessary when you are sheltered and shut-in.
Amazon is not a bookstore; Amazon is a network of retail warehouses. There is no customer service at Amazon, not really. Customer service implies there are people available to serve customers. Amazon can issue a refund, issue a credit, investigate an order, but the one thing Amazon cannot do is point you towards a book you may like. Amazon has algorithm bots that track your browsing habits, but this AI (Artificial Ignorance) does not know you and does not wish to know you. Legitimate booksellers seek relationships with their customers and want to please.
- What if B&N, Indie Bound, … others offered an in-person, in-video chat feature with a real book-lover helping to guide you?
- What if authors could set up a profile page and each time a customer logged into B&N, Indie Bound, … that customer’s zip code was mapped to local authors in their area so that in addition to that customer’s preferred genres a “Local Authors” category would appear.
- What if a customer could also ask to have the book shipped to a local store for pick up and in return receive a gift card or credit on their next purchase?
In other words, what if B&N, Indie Bound, … others ran their online presence like a virtual bookstore, one that catered to and appreciated readers?
We seem to forget that Amazon is a retail infant: a self-absorbed big baby.
Before Amazon people shopped and bought goods just fine. If Amazon were to implode tomorrow consumers and retailers would adjust — and probably do so quickly.
To learn more about the future of Amazon and its pending demise check out DOUG STEPHENS article from 2018. Retail giants do rise and fall. One day – perhaps soon – Amazon will fall, too.