B&N’s New Plan to Save Itself is … (Wait For It) … to Sell More Stuff

B&N's New Plan to Save Itself is ... (Wait For It) ... to Sell More Stuff Barnes & Noble

Yesterday Barnes & Noble announced the umpteenth bad quarterly report, with revenues declining 6.6% overall and digital revenues falling 28%.

But don't worry, because B&N has a plan to turn around the company, one that is bound to earn them a trip to Stockholm to collect a Nobel prize.

Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros announced on the investor call yesterday afternoon that B&N is going to open more stores and sell more stuff.

As we look to reinvent our customer value proposition and growth sales, we’re focused on a number of initiatives to increase the value customers derive from shopping at Barnes & Noble. Our value proposition is comprised of membership, convenience, digital offerings and most importantly our stores where customers come to browse, discover, and interact with 26,000 knowledgeable booksellers.

Pricing is a key consideration and over the past few months, we’ve launched a number of price tests tied to our membership program to see which authors resonate best with customers and increase the overall value of the program. Our goals are to increase enrollment, conversion and visit frequency.

Beyond pricing, we’re also focused on growing sales by improving the overall shopping, browsing and discovery experience for better visual merchandizing and signage as well as personalized recommendations. This includes testing changes to existing store layouts and remerchandising certain businesses. We believe there are significant opportunities to manage our inventory better, increasing trends and reduce unproductive merchandize.

As part of our efforts to better understand customers and develop a robust data analytics program, we’ve recently installed customer counters in all our stores and reintroduced mystery shops. We plan to enhance customer engagement and personalization through improved customer insights. And recently we’ve established an analytics team building the foundation for better analytic rigor.

Stores are an integral component of our value proposition and recently we made a few critical hires to oversee our store growth initiatives. Carl Hauch has joined as Vice President of Stores and will oversee the entire retail store organization and profitable growth of the business. Jim Lampassi has also joined the leadership team as Vice President of Real Estate Development and is responsible for developing and executing our real estate strategy. I’m excited to have Carl and Jim join our team.

In addition to the two new test stores we have in the pipeline, we are reviewing our entire portfolio in identifying opportunities to open new stores in new markets as well as opportunities to relocate stores as their leases expire instead of simply vacating markets. Our goal is to position the company for net store expansion.

Barnes & Noble has hit upon the previously undiscovered secret to turning a retail business around. They're going to sell more stuff.

... [clipped] 500 words of mocking B&N ...

Folks, I may sneer at B&N but the simple fact is if they actually knew how to increase sales then their revenues last quarter would have held steady (at least).

If B&N actually knew how to do better then they would not have consistently reported declining sales over the past several years. So when they say that they will increase sales, they are less stating a goal than confirming that they are the underpants gnomes of retail.

Like the underpants gnomes of South Park, Barnes & Noble knows what they want to accomplish but they have absolutely no clue on how to achieve that goal.

It doesn't matter how many CEOs they hire and fire, nor how many new VPs play the game of musical chairs. As an institution, B&N is incapable of solving the most basic of problems: how not to go out of business.


About Nate Hoffelder (9948 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

10 Comments on B&N’s New Plan to Save Itself is … (Wait For It) … to Sell More Stuff

  1. Have they tried “working smarter, not harder”? Or what about “giving 110%”? “Thinking outside the box”? “Architecting a synergistic paradigm shift”? Surely any problem can be solved if you throw enough cliches and buzzwords at it.

  2. “When people don’t want to come, nothing will stop them.”

    — Sol Hurok (often attributed to Yogi Berra)

  3. I love that a central pillar of this plan is to work on enrolling new people in their shoppers club …

    Because if there is one thing that is not annoying as hell is to be nagged to join that stupid club EVERY SINGLE TIME. I just want to pay for my books and leave. If I wanted to be in the club, I would have joined the first dozen times I was nagged about it. (Not unlike how Radio Shack and Kmart tries to hold you hostage … just let me pay and leave.)

    I have a few ideas:

    How about focusing on customer service instead of berating employees for not getting enough new club members?

    How about returning to the wider selection of books that used to be the reason to go to B&N? (The toys and teddy bears I can tolerate, the limited selection, though, only encourages people to shop at Amazon.) B&N’s ONLY advantage is immediacy. If you don’t carry it on the shelf, you have surrendered your only advantage.

    How about making your godawful website less godawful? (Slow and buggy.)

  4. “… they are less stating a goal than confirming that they are the underpants gnomes of retail.”

    OMG… Nate, you win the Internet. That is all.

  5. This is getting embarrassing for them. Meanwhile, their stock reached 20 year lows and sure appears headed lower to me.

    Death spiral isn’t too strong of a word.

  6. I’m sure they can make another great blunder or three before dropping off the radar for good.

  7. I really don’t want them to fail. Their stores are fine in terms of customer service. It’s their corporate office that’s terrible. How weird is that? I refuse to buy anything from them because of the whole Nook business of removing the downloads from the ebooks we bought. I had a good chunk of money from the settlement but unfortunately it was for B&N. So, I’ve been buying other stuff in their stories and not ebooks.

3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Barnes & Noble is Dead, And Len Riggio Killed it | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing
  2. Yes... Barnes and Noble is about to Collapse. What happens Next. | Nick Cole's Books
  3. Barnes & Noble is Dead, And Len Riggio Killed it | The Digital Reader

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