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Old 03-02-2011, 06:49 AM   #1
GeoffC
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An observation on readers being sold - or not

The city close by me is a cosmopolitan one, the Oil Capital of Europe, so it ought to have a fairly sophisticated population; but I have yet to see another reader being used in the wild.

Yesterday I browsed ... …

Amazon Kindle for sale in a local Tesco (one of the large UK stores; started as grocer, now sells anything):
The display is in a prime footfall location - near entrance. No one looked as they went by. The display rack was full, the boxes brown, plain and uninspiring.
No reader was nakedly on display. In short, no one looked as though they were interested.

John Lewis (department store):
Amazon Kindle on display in the electronic department. Two racks, full. As with Tesco, uninspiring boxes and display.
No one looking and no reader was nakedly on display.

Sony Store:
5 Sony Readers on display, 3 together and 2 separately and elsewhere in the shop. 2 were not working, one had an obviously damaged display.
No one looking, assistants not bothered.

Waterstones: Book Store.
3 Sony Readers on display, none of them working. 2 Elonex Readers on display, one working, the other was - but nothing on it to look at.

In none of these stores did there appear to be any attempt to interest buyers in the device.


Apple Store:
Fairly well patronised, numerous iPod and iPad on display, and most with an occupant. Blue-coated assistants actively wandering around and answering questions.

Car-phone Warehouse (Comms store) - within 3 shops of the Apple store: iPad and iPod on sale, assistants around and customers looking.


As an experience of one small city, and albeit a small time snapshot, it is easy to see how and why Apple are proving a more successful operator.
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:56 AM   #2
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As an experience of one small city, and albeit a small time snapshot, it is easy to see how and why Apple are proving a more successful operator.
What you're missing is that people go to an Apple store to buy Apple devices. All those other places are where people visit to buy other things, and they may just pick up or look at a reader while they're shopping for something else. And why wouldn't the racks be full? If it's not properly stocked, the stocking person isn't do their job well.

I have no defense for the bookstores and non-working devices... that's just shameful.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:00 AM   #3
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What you're missing is that people go to an Apple store to buy Apple devices. All those other places are where people visit to buy other things, and they may just pick up or look at a reader while they're shopping for something else. And why wouldn't the racks be full? If it's not properly stocked, the stocking person isn't do their job well.
yes but the point is the Apple Store is where the customers get the full experience, whilst at the others it was a case of 'DIY', not even in the Sony store was there the same urgency (?) to interest a potential customer.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:21 AM   #4
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In many of the stores and bookstores I've visited, displays of reading devices often featured dead or damaged devices, or items were locked up in cases. When I asked, floor personnel would invariably tell me "We had one on display, and it was broken in a day or so. So now we show mockups and lock the rest up."

In defense, though, some of the mockup displays, and the mockups themselves, do a decent job of showing off the device. Some of them have display loops running on locked-down devices (when they're working), which aren't bad at showing the device's uses. I see that now for a few other electronics as well, and it's better than a plain brown box.

As you indicated, Geoff, no one was checking them out, and no one was buying. But unless you stake out the store all day for a week, say, is it a fair comparison to say "I didn't see anyone look, during the whole ten minutes I was there in February"? I could say the same thing about many of the departments in Best Buy, for instance: "No one was looking at the ebook readers when I was there. Nor the appliances. Nor the cameras. Nor the non-Blu-Ray DVDs. Nor the magazines..."

Let's face it: It's hard to catch eyeballs in a department store, for anything that you didn't specifically come in for. Unless you put live celebs or Playboy bunnies in front of a display, it may never be seen by 90% of the people who go by. (This is the strategy of the average U.S. beer store... posters and cutouts of scantily-clad models, cheerleaders and sports stars surround the products in the aisles; and it's one of the primary reasons Budweiser and Miller products are so popular. 'Cause it ain't the taste...)

And so far, no one has come up with a way to promote ebooks or readers that Joe and Jane Consumer would consider compelling. "Look cool?" Right. "Save bookshelf space?" Wow. "Buy something that'll be obsolete within 2 years?" Oh boy, can't wait.

Finally, department stores rarely have personnel that they can dedicate to the small section that readers generally occupy. They probably do better if they are prominent in the electronics section, which may be permanently manned and therefore easier to get help. (At Best Buy, they're nowhere near the rest of the electronics, so no stationed personnel to help... it's usually, "Sure, let me find someone to help you with that." Find a seat, have some coffee, hope you weren't in a hurry...)

Last edited by Steven Lyle Jordan; 03-02-2011 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:41 AM   #5
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Yes, it's all those lazy shop workers doing nothing... or it could be staffing levels halved over the last couple of years with no salary increases and the same amount of work to be done by half the number of people... shameful... and nothing to do with the people who browse the store for their books then go and buy from Amazon and then complain about the state of bookstores or their forthcoming demise...


Quote:
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I have no defense for the bookstores and non-working devices... that's just shameful.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:52 AM   #6
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Well, I do know that two of my local Target stores were completely sold out over the Christmas holiday and they were back-ordered at least two weeks from Amazon. They seem to being sold to someone.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:27 AM   #7
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Defective readers displayed may give the impression the devices aren't durable and reduce potential sales.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:44 AM   #8
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Yes, it's all those lazy shop workers doing nothing... or it could be staffing levels halved over the last couple of years with no salary increases and the same amount of work to be done by half the number of people... shameful... and nothing to do with the people who browse the store for their books then go and buy from Amazon and then complain about the state of bookstores or their forthcoming demise...
It IS shameful for a store to have non-working product on display, regardless of staffing levels. It's also shameful for a store to have dirty floors and products strewn about instead of shelved properly. If my local stores were a little cleaner and I could actually find stuff there, I would shop there. I can't, so I shop online.

I certainly wasn't calling you and your coworkers lazy. I'm under the same constraints in my non-retail job: half the staff we should have, no raises since 2008, and meanwhile management thinks we should have a really expensive new building instead of putting money where it belongs. This is not an excuse for me to give sub-par service to our customers, because they are the ones who keep me in a job.

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Defective readers displayed may give the impression the devices aren't durable and reduce potential sales.
Precisely.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:45 AM   #9
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In the US, I think Barnes and Noble does a great job marketing the Nooks in-store. They have multiple working models prominently on display and someone full-time at that counter to answer questions. Whenever I go in there, there is usually someone looking at the devices.

But again, people who go to a bookstore are readers. I think a huge part of the slow adoption of ebook readers is that a lot of people don't read for pleasure. I always thought of the NYC subway as one of the last places that had a lot of people reading, but now that you can play Angry Birds instead, there are fewer (although it's still the number 1 place I see ereaders "in the wild.")

eP
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:46 AM   #10
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But again, people who go to a bookstore are readers. I think a huge part of the slow adoption of ebook readers is that a lot of people don't read for pleasure. I always thought of the NYC subway as one of the last places that had a lot of people reading, but now that you can play Angry Birds instead, there are fewer (although it's still the number 1 place I see ereaders "in the wild.")

eP
I'm a reader, but I read once on the rail line and was so engrossed I missed my stop. By a lot. It's much easier to play throw-away games because they kill time, but they're also easy to put down
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:05 PM   #11
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I know that in one bookstore here we have a Nook and Nook Color on display and they are in working order and the staff will discuss them with customers. Of course there isn't an Apple store in town.
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:08 PM   #12
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ereaders are being sold in the supermarkets here, mid sized city United States. Once the price goes down a bit more I think they will be everywhere.
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Defective readers displayed may give the impression the devices aren't durable and reduce potential sales.
It certainly didn't impress me ....

The Apple and CarWarehouse stores did, with their customer experience, not forgetting the packaging I could see for the Kindle was hardly inspiring.

Yes, Steven, I agree, a 5 minutes on a March morning was not a good poll, but I've experienced the same at other times (even during the Christmas rush at Sony store). Putting mock-ups on display ought to have a sign with them saying "Please ask to see a working model" - or similar .... ?

The impression I was getting was that Sony and Kindle were 'cheap and nasty'; Sony and Elonex far from durable....Not a good sales pitch.

Probably one of the functions of the blue-coated tribe at Apple is to quickly monitor duff devices and replace them before anyone notices....
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:00 PM   #14
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Yes, it's all those lazy shop workers doing nothing... or it could be staffing levels halved over the last couple of years with no salary increases and the same amount of work to be done by half the number of people... shameful... and nothing to do with the people who browse the store for their books then go and buy from Amazon and then complain about the state of bookstores or their forthcoming demise...
Given the number of times I've been in Best Buy and had to interrupt clusters of three or four staff talking about sports, what they're doing after work, or similar non-work-related matters so that I can get someone to look something up, find something, or get the freaking ladder to get that box down from waaaay up there, I'm not seeing that. When I do find someone to answer a question, without fail he takes the box from my hands and reads it to me, apparently under the assumption that I am illiterate and unable to read it for myself.
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:26 PM   #15
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Some companies tend to run skeleton crews anymore. I used to work retail, with my last job being with Toys R Us, and it wasn't uncommon to have only 1 or 2 people man the entire sales floor outside of the Christmas season. When you have so few people, it is hard to keep a place clean. Is it the fault of the employee? Not really, but definitely the blame goes to the store.

Best Buy around here seems to go in circles. Sometimes they're staffed with tons of slackers who seem to get pissed if you ask for their assistance, and others they pester you incessantly. I guess they are lax on the employees until they get a bunch of complaints, and then slack off again when corporate is happy. When you staff mostly younger people, especially High School age, you have to be firm with them to make sure they are productive. While it is unfair to group people simply by age, it seems the youngest generation of workers are usually slackers until they mature some.

In regards to the demos, it seems they get abused the most in department stores. It appears at times that people try to destroy stuff in department stores, where as specialty stores like the book stores, people usually take better care of the demos.
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