To succeed, a company must differentiate, says George Jones.
George Jones: One of the key elements of our strategic plan is differentiation and I think that’s hugely important and it’s something that’s worked for me in other turnarounds as well, what’s- what is different about us versus the other places where people could choose to buy the products we’re selling whether it be online or Bricks and Mortar or whatever and how do you create that differentiation. We’re doing a number of things as part of our strategic plan. One of the things that we’re doing is we’re creating destination businesses within the stores and these are categories of merchandise where we think we can really do something to stand out where we can have a better offering, better experience, than you would find in our competitors. If you take a category like our travel, for example travel books, we- if I asked our people they thought we were very competitive in our assortment versus the Brick and Mortar stores--this is when I arrived--in- just based on the number of titles that we carried. We had a greater breadth of titles. I, however, as a frequent customer of both Borders and our competitors, said, “I don’t know if I would have really realized that.” They said, “Oh, yes. We have X percent more titles on average than our major competitor in the travel category,” and I guess they’ve counted them or whatever too, and-- However, I still know that in a store you’re not going to have near the offering or assortment that an online retailer would, which could be Amazon or as, we’re- obviously now we’ve just taken over our online business, would be our own online business. So what are you going to do there? It’s really going to create a different experience. We’ve really introduced the internet by putting kiosks in these areas in our new concept stores that we feel that that really adds to the experience, and from that kiosk you can learn a lot. You can get a lot of information on a place that you may want to visit or it’ll even help you plan a trip. You can just factor- put different- the different factors in there in terms of what you’re looking for, where you want to go whether it be a beach vacation, how long you want to go away for. It could be that you want gourmet dining or you want some place romantic or whatever and you can put these different elements in there and it’ll help you by suggesting places that you might want to go. And then it’ll give you a lot of information about that and you can even price trips on it or you can find- even book a trip on it, and so just by using a lot of the information that’s out there on the internet and putting it available- making it available in the store I think really enhances that experience. And we’re not only doing it in travel. We’re doing it in cooking. We’re doing it in health and wellness and other areas in the store as well and we’ll continue to do more of this.
Recorded on: 6/18/08