Is it news that Borders finally jumped into the online bookstore business? Only as a footnote demonstrating how behind the times the once mighty bookseller has become. The book market is shifting with the suddenness of an earthquake and, very shortly, all the old models will be relics. With this in mind, Borders continues to forge “behind” and invent new ways to be seen as an also ran.
There is nothing wrong with their online book store, having the desire to allow multiple format downloads and sell an eReader. The problem is that Borders has not come to grips with the real problem: Its brand has no meaning. They are just like everyone else and less so.
Yesterday, Borders tried to differentiate itself by being almost as good as everyone else that it believes it competes with. So, how is Borders better? Well, it has lots of books available (just like Amazon and Apple and, soon, Google). Its bookstore has a nice interface (just like Apple). It has reasonable prices (just like everyone else). And let’s not forget that it has a coffee shop in its stores, sells music and DVDs, and has a loyalty program. Take that to all of you that scoff “so what?” when Borders claims to be different and better.
Borders needs brand work if it is going to survive, let alone thrive. It needs to look at the future market it hopes to engage and understand the market’s aspirations and preceptive fabric better then anyone currently does. Only then can it innovate on a delivery of services that the market covets. The strategy will dictate the offer and, maybe, Borders will look less reactionary.
In the meantime, I could see Borders unveiling the earth-shattering announcement that it accepts credit cards as a form of payment. Now that would set it apart.