The Barnes & Noble online store – www. bn. com – was launched in March 1997. Among its primary strengths is its offline component – the Barnes & Noble, Inc. which is a leading publisher and retailer involved in selling trade books, mass market paperbacks, children’s books, bargain books, magazines, music and movies. The big inventory of this online channel is largely attributed to its offline counterpart.
This website is considered as the world’s largest educational site which provides access to thousands of study guides on various poems, short stories, novels, and other literary pieces. When Barnes & Noble bought SparksNotes in 2001, the educational site already had six million registered users. This number is continuously increasing and this increase widens the market reach of Barnes & Noble. com. Apart from SparkNotes, Barnes & Noble. com is also affiliated with the Barnes & Noble University.
The university offers free courses and its students are potential targets which can be reached through the direct introduction and promotion of the online store and its products. Another advantage of Barnes & Noble. com is its acquisition of an online electronic book retailer – Fictionwise. Fictionwise allows the online store to penetrate the e-book market and effectively compete with Amazon. com (its prime competitor) in distributing digital copies of books and other content. Before, the prime problem of the site was that it was not as user-friendly as Amazon. com.
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Fortunately, that has been resolved by changing the site’s management team. Now, the major weakness that Barnes & Noble. com has is the fact that it is still not as popular as Amazon. com. When it started its operation in 1997, Amazon was already two years ahead in operation and it has already built a very big market of registered users in its database. In 1999, it was noted that Barnes & Noble. com only had 1. 8 million names while Amazon had 8. 4 million. Another weakness is the fact that its product prices are not as competitive with Amazon especially when it comes to e-books.
Amazon also has bigger storage capacities for its products and this enables them to provide services and ship their products very quickly. Fortunately, its recent affiliations with SparkNotes and Fictionwise pose many opportunities. Barnes & Noble. com management speculates that Fictionwise can help the company significantly reduce its marketing price in e-books. Moreover, the acquisition of SparkNotes increases the market database of Barnes & Noble. com by millions. The company can also utilize its nationwide stores as marketing venues which already have access to millions of Barnes & Noble customers.
It can also foster affiliations with other online companies in order to expand its market reach and increase probabilities for future innovations. As for the threats, Barnes & Noble still faces challenges from Amazon. com, as well as other book sellers which adapted the Amazon concept of online retail. This includes Blackwell Synergy, Books-A-Million, and Powell’s Books. If these companies would merge to launch a new online library and book retailer, Barnes & Noble. com might have suffer from fierce competition. A leader in the industry
Barnes & Noble. com is considered as a leader in the online bookselling as it offers a wide selection of in-stock inventory – three million from the company’s online catalogue and another thirty million listings from other book dealers of in-print books which may be new, rare, used, or out-of print. In addition to that, the website is also leading in the electronic books and publishing industry. The site has almost 5,000 e-book titles which can be purchased and readily downloaded from the site to any personal computer, laptop, or pocket PC.
With its rapid expansion and tie-up with various online companies, Barnes & Noble predicts that it won’t be long before their site would offer digital companies of all of the company’s book titles. Barnes & Noble. com is also leading in the music commerce. Recently, Forbes. com voted the website as the No. 1 music site. The music store of Barnes & Noble. com has been credited for offering not just great music of jazz, world music or Broadway. Instead, it also achieved recognition for its extensive and interesting editorial features for people who want to know more about the music that they are buying.
Barnes & Noble. com’s success is best demonstrated in its revenues. Based on the company records, the sales of this online channel have steadily increased in the past few years. In 2006, its sales reached $433 million for the full year. In 2007, the sales were up to $477 million for the full year – exhibiting about 13. 4% increase as compared to 2006. The revenue model of the E-commerce site Barnes & Noble. com is patterned after Amazon. com’s web catalog revenue model. Like other booksellers, Barnes & Noble.
com get their revenues when customers choose from the on-site product catalogs and buy through the site. The orders can be placed and paid through the automated ordering forms and “shopping cart” of the website. What’s good about this model is the fact that it acts as an online extension of the company’s nationwide stores for its in-print products. Since the model is implemented at an online level, the revenue generation becomes more effective as potential customers can access the site, view their choices, and buy products anytime that they want to.
Although there are other methods of earning which Barnes & Noble. com can use (i. e. advertising through editorial content and ad spaces), such must be utilized only at a minimal level in order to avoid comprising the site’s book selling and promotion process. Marketing on the web Barnes & Noble. com tries aims to appeal to the general audience. To attract the target market and maintain a great share of loyal customers, the company employs various promotional methods – both offline and online. Offline, www. bn.
com is introduced through the stores of Barnes & Noble. It is also popularized through the Barnes & Noble Membership Program which offers incentives to shoppers of the company’s products online and offline. The most beneficial incentive is the discounts which range from ten to ninety percent. The marketing campaign of Barnes & Noble. com is a lot more aggressive. Foremost of these is the promotional mailing. The online book retailer attempts to pitch various book clubs including the 5. 5 million members of the Bertlesmann.
In addition to that, they have linked their physical stores to their site. Included in their previous strategy was to provide incentives for customers who give away their e-mail addresses to them. Through their university, Barnes & Noble gains access to the e-mail addresses of students as well. The e-mails are then supplied with promotional offers, flyers, brochures, newsletters and product catalogs. In addition to this, the online book seller is promoted through advertorials and advertisements in Yahoo.
In 2000, Barnes & Noble.com initiated a partnership with Yahoo. As a result, the site became the premier book seller that is featured in the Yahoo directory. The site was also the featured merchant on Yahoo Shopping. Moreover, graphic links of Barnes & Noble. com were presented in every search result page and in all the book category pages of Yahoo. Conclusion Barnes & Noble. com has achieved its position as a leading online bookseller through its successful acquisition, affiliations and merging with other online companies such as Yahoo, SparkNotes, Spinway, and FictionWise.
Moreover, a great part of its success must also be attributed to the fact that it has a big inventory of books, magazines, and CDs and DVDs of various music and movies. The online book seller also has an efficient marketing campaign – online and offline – through Yahoo. com, Barnes & Noble physical stores, and through its aggressive promotional mailings distributed primarily via book clubs and the Barnes & Noble University. Barnes & Noble. com’s success is best demonstrated in its continuously increasing revenues for the past few years.
Furthermore, this success is seen in its rapid expansion and continuously increasing inventory. To keep up with this success and the fierce competition with Amazon. com, the online company should make sure that it can keep up with the new innovations in marketing, new methods in presenting online product catalogs, and more efficient processes in shipping their products. It should also increase its inventory storage capacity through the acquisition of more warehouses.
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