If you need a new rug or night-vision goggles, there’s a surprising new place to find it online.Last week, Barnes & Noble took a step toward Amazon when it began selling an array of non-book products, including these, on its website, reports TIME.
John Foley, Barnes & Noble’s president of ecommerce, tells the magazine the strategy is to pair related products with the books customers buy — for example, offering cooking supplies when online shoppers seek out cook books, or baby supplies for those who purchase new baby or parenting books.
The strategy makes sense, considering Amazon’s monumental success at doing roughly the same thing.
Book sales at the retailer’s physical locations have been on the decline for years. Even the downfall of rival store Borders didn’t give Barnes & Noble the boost it needs to reclaim its premier book-giant status, TIME reports.
Still, e-reader sales of the store’s Nook device have been up, leading an online surge for its website. Online sales have grown by nearly 37% to $198 million, to make up 14% of Barnes & Noble’s total sales, according to TIME.
So will the added online stock — which includes five categories: Home and Gift, Consumer Electronics, Arts and Crafts, Toys and Games, and Baby — help the bookseller stage a complete revival?
For one, the new items will be primarily sold through third-party businesses. That means Barnes & Noble won’t have to shoulder the additional burden and expense of housing and managing the new inventory. Instead, it will just collect a commission on each item sold, ranging from 8% to 15%, Reuters reports.
Bill Kavaler, a senior analyst at market research firm Oscar Gruss & Son, tells TIME that the retailer’s shifted focus was inevitable. And while the online emphasis seems like a good plan, it will of course take time to see how it actually plays out with consumers.
“Just books ain’t enough,” he says. “[Barnes & Noble] isn’t doing anything particularly stupid … And that’s all you can ask.”
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