Borders Stores Turn Back on Long Tail

Borders is counting on a simple turn of the wrist to boost profits and reduce in-store inventory. According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the retailer is displaying three times as many books “face out.”

Shelf Awareness notes:

” … The new approach has led to sales increases ‘in the double digits’ and has led to the removal of 5%-10% of the average store’s titles — many of which sell only one copy a year in each store.”

Borders’ move could introduce a unique opportunity for retailers with offline and online storefronts: eschew the long tail in brick and mortar outlets and embrace the long tail on the Web.

Enterprising book marketers could also take a note from the seamless integration we’re all experiencing on the Web: just as Web apps unite the desktop with the server-side, a retail store could merge with the retailer’s online presence through in-store kiosks (perhaps with a Cover Flow layout to continue the “face out” concept) and print-on-demand equipment.

For these offline-online companies, the long tail doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition.

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