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Old 07-03-2010, 03:07 PM   #1
clintbradford
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Borders Retail Stores - Education

Since my local Borders store had a "Kobo in stock July 2!" little card displayed with the other eReaders last weekend, I called them today, looking for another kobo as a gift.

I called FIVE Borders stores in my region (Southern California). NOT A SINGLE ONE KNEW WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT. No one who answered the phone knew what a "kobo" was.

I kid you not. Every time I asked, "Are the kobo eReaders in stock yet?" - I had to be placed on hold ... had to repeat myself. The fourth store cheerily stated that they had a bunch of them in stock. I repeated myself, "Wow, the Borders kobo eReader?"

"Oh, yes - made by Sony, we have a lot of them in stock ... "

If Borders thinks they are going to seriously enter the eReader business, they need to get their employees on board. Now.

I am writing Borders' customer care right now. I am a fan of this device. But if the front line sales staff is asked for a kobo and hands me a Sony - then Borders' eReader presence is doomed.

Clint Bradford
Grumpy from being up all night (g)

P.S. - Store managers this morning gave me FOUR different arrival dates: 12th, 15, and 17, and "call next week."
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Old 07-03-2010, 03:55 PM   #2
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I was an operations manager for Borders, and I am not at all surprised by this.

The biggest problem is that the borders website and the borders store are separate entities. It wasn't until about a year ago that the book ordering process was brought in house. It used to be farmed out through amazon.com. They were losing a ton of money so they tried to start their own online retail site, but for some reason it is actually a separate company all together. It was done to try and recoup some of the loses from the in store ordering process. That attempted integration with online ordering was a total fiasco, and continues to be a failure. My best guess as to why it was done as a separate entity is because Borders was bankrupt when they implemented the program. They had to get another company that had developed a site similar to Barns and Noble's that was not a "live" site to rebrand themselves with the borders logo. It was the only way they could afford to do it, and it is the reason why you cannot get refunds for books ordered online in a Borders store.

I have had every kind of customer service issue you can imagine because of the ineptitude of the Borders online service. Try explaining to a very angry father why the copy of Tom Sawyer his 5th grade daughter ordered for her school's reading program accidentally ended up being a copy of the satanic bible. (I still believe it was done on purpose) When you combine the growing pains of the online company with the three different CEO changes, severe staffing and budget cut backs, and a general lack of communication it is a wonder anyone even bothered to take your calls.

The fact of the matter is that the borders store get NO credit for any sales related to the online site. (initially they were supposed to, based on a zip code proximity, but that idea was scrapped immediately.)

It is unfortunately not their jobs to keep track of anything related to the online stores, because the managers get no credit for any of the sales, even on the orders that are placed in the store. Most importantly, there is very little profit margin associated with the e readers, and none of the books that you buy to read on them will help the stores meet their sales goals.

As such, why should they know or care anything about them?

There is no incentive for the "brick and mortar" stores to help you.

However, they do take customer satisfaction surveys and customer care calls very seriously. The only way your concerns will be addressed is if you get a receipt from them with a survey on it. Everything you say on that survey will go straight to the store's general manager, and if it is bad enough the District manager as well.
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Old 07-03-2010, 04:05 PM   #3
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>> ... There is no incentive for the "brick and mortar" stores to help you ...

I do not understand. Today, I was merely a consumer, looking for a product that the retail stores advertised as being in stock "on July 2." This has nothing to do with borders.com ....
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Old 07-03-2010, 11:18 PM   #4
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Especially with their supposed new "Area-e" that their supposed to be having in store you'd think they'd have started educating people.
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:00 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clintbradford View Post
>> ... There is no incentive for the "brick and mortar" stores to help you ...

I do not understand. Today, I was merely a consumer, looking for a product that the retail stores advertised as being in stock "on July 2." This has nothing to do with borders.com ....
The point is that the stores have no control over when those items come into stock because it was launched through borders.com, and that the stores don't care about the e readers or when they come in because they don't make money off them.

I am just saying that when it comes to e readers you are probably not going to get good service from a Borders store, and until the managers can meet sales goals from e book sales, they are not going to place priority on being knowledgeable about the e readers with their staff.

Their product knowledge and your subsequent satisfaction as a customer have everything to do with borders.com when it comes to e readers.
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Old 07-04-2010, 01:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickWilliams View Post
The point is that the stores have no control over when those items come into stock because it was launched through borders.com, and that the stores don't care about the e readers or when they come in because they don't make money off them.

I am just saying that when it comes to e readers you are probably not going to get good service from a Borders store, and until the managers can meet sales goals from e book sales, they are not going to place priority on being knowledgeable about the e readers with their staff.

Their product knowledge and your subsequent satisfaction as a customer have everything to do with borders.com when it comes to e readers.
Then they should scrap the whole idea of "Area-e" in their stores and trying to be THE place to go for a reader.
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Old 07-04-2010, 02:52 AM   #7
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>> ... [Borders retail stores] should scrap the whole idea of "Area-e" in their stores and trying to be THE place to go for a reader ...

Something that happened to me last week makes me respectfully disagree with you: I was picking up a prescription at Target, and wandered by a Kindle display. Yes, a Kindle display. With a powered demo unit. Back when I bought my wife one a few months ago, there wasn't anywhere on the planet where you could walk into and touch/feel one (at least not in North America). We consumers gobbled 'em up blindly at US$259 - and are enjoying them.

For the Borders implementation of the Kobo to succeed, it needs to be seen/touched by potential customers. And at least a twenty dollar price reduction - to US$129 or below - in addition to Borders Rewards and whatever gift certificate they keep offering. And they need to display them alongside the Sony/Nook/Libre units.

I had a 20+ minute telephone conversation with a Borders "resolution specialist" regarding a minor problem I am having, and the lack of product knowledge at their retail stores. I truly expect to see some "eReader education" occurring between now and the middle of the month when the kobo finally hits Borders' retail stores.

Call me an optimist - I could be wrong. But know that I am enjoying my kobo ...

Clint Bradford

Last edited by clintbradford; 07-04-2010 at 02:55 AM.
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Old 07-04-2010, 03:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clintbradford View Post
>> ... [Borders retail stores] should scrap the whole idea of "Area-e" in their stores and trying to be THE place to go for a reader ...

Something that happened to me last week makes me respectfully disagree with you: I was picking up a prescription at Target, and wandered by a Kindle display. Yes, a Kindle display. With a powered demo unit. Back when I bought my wife one a few months ago, there wasn't anywhere on the planet where you could walk into and touch/feel one (at least not in North America). We consumers gobbled 'em up blindly at US$259 - and are enjoying them.

For the Borders implementation of the Kobo to succeed, it needs to be seen/touched by potential customers. And at least a twenty dollar price reduction - to US$129 or below - in addition to Borders Rewards and whatever gift certificate they keep offering. And they need to display them alongside the Sony/Nook/Libre units.

I had a 20+ minute telephone conversation with a Borders "resolution specialist" regarding a minor problem I am having, and the lack of product knowledge at their retail stores. I truly expect to see some "eReader education" occurring between now and the middle of the month when the kobo finally hits Borders' retail stores.

Call me an optimist - I could be wrong. But know that I am enjoying my kobo ...

Clint Bradford
Right and having them in stores is great, but if they have no interest in educating their staff then they should just have a display of readers and leave it at that (like Target does). The whole "Area-e" thing was touted as being much more than that.
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Old 07-04-2010, 07:46 AM   #9
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The people in Borders in Australia were pretty well train up for the job to sell them, they had people especially dealing with them, so your wouldn't get a generic sale person if you wanted to ask a question, they referred you to the in-store "specialist". Not sure how much training they got, but they wl just give you a new reader if they can't solve your problem
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:06 AM   #10
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It has been about a year and a half since I was with Borders, and things may have changed. I know that there have been a lot of other changes that have taken place (such as a another new CEO) in that time. That last internal contact I had was back when they were cutting back on all the electronics, music, and DVD's in the stores. Anything electronic was getting the shaft big time.

We had several directives similar to the area-e that came and went with out much fan fair. I have noticed that pretty much any specialty retailer that tries to stay competitive by putting a big push behind something that does not have the profit margin for them that it does for their competitors, usually give up pretty quickly.

I am not a fan of Borders, but I love my Kobo. I hope it does well, and I think it will thrive on Borders.com. I am just skeptical that it will get the support it deserves from the Borders stores. However, the corporate climate may have change regarding e readers, and they may just be a little slow in rolling it out. I honestly hope that is the case. Nothing would make me happier than to see the e book centers that were the feature attraction of the two test market Borders "stores of the future" come to fruition.

I think we should all be contacting customer care like Clint if we find the stores are not backing up the hype that is on their signs. The more attention the e readers get from the stores, the more support, accessories, e books, and features we are going to get for our e book investment.
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:10 PM   #11
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Back in my distant past, I worked as a retail sales clerk. The sales clerk can have an enormous impact on sales. We had Minolta and Yashica sales reps come in and train us on their cameras, and it made a huge difference.

I'm afraid that companies these days expect everything to be online and handled somehow by technology, while the truth is, people desperately want the human touch. It's expensive (relatively) and time-consuming (relatively), but it frigging WORKS to train your sales staff. (If you feel a big "Duh" coming on, go with it!)

I feel that the Kobo CAN compete with the nook and Kindle if people can get it in their hands. It simply feels better to me. It's lighter and easier to handle and simple to use (if you're right-handed). But you aren't going to find that out by reading reviews on the internet that tally up features and tell you how much more you're getting when you buy a reader that offers "features" that you may not want, at the cost of weight and clumsiness.

If Borders is going to sell this thing, they have to educate their sales force. End of story. They have to make the effort. If they aren't willing to make that effort, the Kobo will die and my next e-reader will come from someone else.
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:46 PM   #12
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>> ... The people in Borders in Australia were pretty well trained ...

My wife and son visited your wonderful country ... not on a computer-topic-related venture, but a humanitarian one: when you hosted the international convention for Rotary, International a few years ago. Both my wife and then-teenaged-son were positively affected by the warmth and hospitality of your fellow citizens ...

So what you write here about corporate management desiring to assist your consuming public doesn't surprise me.
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Old 07-04-2010, 11:01 PM   #13
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I was recently in B&N store and saw the person at the nook counter actually giving proper support to a customer who came in with nook.
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:08 AM   #14
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I actually had a positive experience in my local Borders in Lower Bucks PA, yesterday. I wanted to look over the Sony Pocket reader (which i ordered used on eBay and am awaiting its arrival) but also to see if the Kobo was around to be looked at. The salesperson mentioned that they were none on the floor, but was able to hand me a real device from the back to look over. Brand new, no security lock although the salesperson was next to me the whole time. I was impressed with their knowledge on the device and how they presented it - well done.

I would have seriously considered the Kobo for purchase, but it's just too big for me - I want something that I can put in a pocket. But it was very light and the screen looked nice.

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