Since the introduction of ebooks and the dominance of Amazon, the landscape of bookstores has dramatically changed. From used bookstores closing their doors to the major chains of bookstores reducing the number of locations, it seems the brick-and-mortar bookstores are going to the history books.
It is quite true that bookstores offer a sense of nostalgia, comfort and excitement. Indeed, being surrounded by thousands of books, being in the company of other book lovers and finding a hard-to-find title are fun things to muse over. However, from a business standpoint, it’s just not feasible anymore.
Kindles and Nooks have made it possible for the consumer to place tens of thousands of novels, history books and philosophy essays onto one single device. The only thing that is stopping the ebook industry from completely closing the doors to the Barnes & Nobles, Indigos and BMVs of the world are two things: the cost of an ebook and a physical book aren’t much different, and people still do enjoy entering a bookstore.
If you own a bookstore and you still want to be in business, then here are eight ways to rejuvenate your enterprise and boost your bottom line:
1. Price Match
The price-tag of newly released books on Amazon and other online retailers are still pretty much the same compared to physical bookstores. This is why your store should match the price that Amazon is listing it for, or perhaps even beating it by five to 10 percent. By doing this, customers will consider going to you without having to wait for shipping.
2. Social Media
One way to grab the new generation of book lovers is to utilize social media to the fullest extent. From tweeting promotions on Twitter to posting corporate news on Facebook, social media can be the tool to increase business. Furthermore, you can incorporate content marketing into your scheme by posting related articles, infographics, videos and white papers.
Here’s something that Amazon won’t have: a community talk about books, the industry and celebrated authors. In your neighborhood, your store can host a discussion and perhaps invite a writer, an industry professional or professors who teach literature. By hosting a community talk, you can garner loyal customers and generate name recognition.
Sometimes, it’s all about the bookstore environment. Just like all those movies that showcase bookstores with comfortable lighting, soothing jazz and friends talking amongst themselves about their trivial problems, your store’s ambiance can be important to create clientele. A fresh coat of paint, a new carpet, soft lighting, and 1950s jazz or classical music can produce a fantastic environment.
5. Community Involvement
Similar to community talks, being actively involved in the community is another great way to have a steady flow of customers in the immediate vicinity. You can sponsor community events, donate to charities, and even create a book-related event like Word on the Street in the city of Toronto.
6. Other Items
Book retailers are attempting to delve into more than just paperbacks and hardcovers. Stores like Indigo are selling movies, music, candles, pillows, coffee mugs, and a lot more. If you have plenty of space in your store, or a large corner, then add a retail section. Also, try to ensure these products advertise the brand as well.
7. Exterior Décor
People walking down the street should be amazed by the store. From excellent signage to a window that depicts the bookstore as the hip place to be, the exterior décor is imperative to drawing in customers. The street traffic is just as important to the longevity of a bookstore as loyal customers.
8. Customer Service
Online shoppers don’t deal with anyone when they visit Amazon so they don’t have that personable experience. When you own a bookstore, you have to communicate with the customer, and not just iterate the final price of the three books on World War II. Get to know the customer, find out what their favorite books are, and encourage them to come back. Customer service is key when you are the proprietor of a business, especially something as (potentially) antiquated as a bookstore.
Let’s face it: Millennials and their successors aren’t readers since the Internet has created a generation of people with limited attention spans. However, for those young people that love to read, and the older ones that share the same passion, bookstores have to do everything they can to ensure these patrons don’t frequent Amazon or the big-name across the street.