The only thing I indulge myself is in buying andreading books. Lots of books! I love going to a bookshop, browse their bookcollection, read a few pages of a book and buy it if I like what I see. Thereare times when I got so immersed in the book that I read the complete book atthe bookshop itself. I loved the cozy chairs that these bookshops provided withso many books to browse and read.
Of late, I have seen that the stock of books atbookshops like Crossword has been on the decline. I also find myself and all myfriends (who buy a lot of books) buying most of our books online from vendorslike Flipkart.com. One of the primary reason is that we get good bargains(discounts ranging from 5-50%) depending on the popularity of the different titles.They ship the book almost same day to your home. They offer an entirely differentexperience to the shoppers.
What does this result in? You find that more and morebooks are being sold online. Though Crossword also has an online store wherethey offer equally compelling bargains, they are losing sales to Flipkart.com. Thisis because of the fact that these websites are considered a necessary way tofight the online bookstores but are not promoted the way flipkart management promotestheir websites (as it is their only mode of survival).
One possible reason why Crossword does not promotetheir online store could be that they perceive that this could possibly hurttheir sales in their physical stores. What they do not realize is that this isanyways affecting their sales of the physical stores and they are losing thesale to their competitors.
This same trend that happened in the US is beingrepeated in India.
Now the question is what could Crossword do tosucceed from the situation they find themselves in?
In my opinion, they could do one the following:
- Get out of the books business and re-design their stores to sell otherhigh margin products like kid’s toys, clothing, coffee shops, etc.
- If Crossword wants to continue to sell books, then they need to change their business model & their Go-to-market strategy and could do the following:
- Convert the bookshops to coffee shops that stock books, have cozy seats where youcan sit, relax, have a cup of coffee and read a book for as long as you want to.Run a marketing blitz to promote the new model. Coffee sales in the storesshould be able to cover the cost of running the store. Install automated check-outcounters where customers can order the books they want from within the storesto.
- Only sell the top 20 best sellers at the store. Anything else onlyavailable for delivery. This allows me to come in, browse, read a few chaptersof a book, order a cup of coffee and decide which book I want to buy. I thenplace the order at the counter (could also be a kiosk) and go home. The booksget delivered at my home. I get the best of both the worlds. The comfy feelingof browsing for books the old fashioned way and ordering books with the bestdiscounts, the modern way.
- If customers don’t come to you, you go to where your customer is! Install kiosks at differentmetro stations, malls, offices, bus stops (near lifts) where people can orderbooks or magazines while waiting for the bus, train or while having some coffeeat the office cafeteria.
- If you can’t compete with them, join them! Close all physical books storesand become an online bookseller themselves and go crazy with media (incl. socialmedia) blitz.
The worst thing that they can do is not to doanything and continue to do business as usual. Because, it is end of Business as usual for Crossword and will resultin only one thing – Slow & painful death.
Hope someone is listening!