Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Borders launches e-bookstore … finally

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bgp1Check out Borders Group finally launching its e-bookstore.

The No. 2 U.S. bookstore chain’s electronic bookstore comes nine months after rival Barnes & Noble debuted its Nook e-reader and three months after Apple introduced its popular iPad tablet computer, allowing both companies, and Amazon.com, which sells the Kindle e-reader, to get a head start.

No worries, says Borders, which saw sales at its namesake superstores open at least a year and on its website fall 11.4 percent in the first quarter.

“We’ll take market share just by turning it on,” said Mike Edwards, president of Borders Inc, the company’s main operating business.

Edwards said Borders had data and email addresses for the 38 million customers in its loyalty program and about 700 stores at which to promote its virtual bookstore, which will help it catch up. The company’s goal is to secure a 17 percent share of the e-book market by July 2011.

from MediaFile:

Hey Woot, its Amazon. You’re rich.

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You gotta figure that every web entrepreneur waits (prays!) for a call or email that goes like this: "Hey dinky but popular outfit with a loyal customer base -- super-huge company here. We want to buy you and make you rich. Have a nice day."

Woot.com got a call like that from Jeff Bezos's Amazon.com. They announced the deal on Wednesday. It's speculated that Amazon paid about $110 million for the company that sells only one item per day at discounted prices, until inventory runs out. The next day, it moves on to another item such as you know, a water gun or a home pedicure kit.

Check Out Line: Amazon’s board shrinks

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Check out the downsizing at Amazon.com.

No, no, it’s not a big corporate layoff. But the e-commerce giant is cutting the size of its board of directors by 12.5 percent.

Of course, once you’ve lost the part of “the center of gravity in the Internet,” why even try to replace him.

Need an inside source? Here’s eBay

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insidesourceEBay, the online marketplace where shoppers can find anything from toys to cars to designer handbags, has launched a digital magazine. 
    
The magazine, www.theinsidesource.com, is geared to “inspired shoppers” and features stories based on what eBay’s millions of users are looking for, according to the publication.

It will feature articles, analysis and opinions from eBay shoppers and journalists. The site will also point to eBay’s most-watched and most-searched items.
 
“The Inside Source content will reflect what inspires us on eBay, from a profile of an art dealer discovering museum-quality pieces to a breakdown of the hottest trends in handbags,” said Managing Editor Meredith Barnett.
    
Perusal of the site revealed postings on a variety of topics, from Kim Kardashian’s style and cocktail rings for under $30 to Jane Birkin’s kitchen and items made of hemp.     
    
The magazine is part of the company’s recent marketing efforts to reenergize its marketplaces business, which competes with a host of e-commerce rivals, including Amazon.com.

Bezos and Zappos.com in a garden, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

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Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos puts his quirky on in an online introduction geared to employees of Web shoe retailer Zappos.com.

The chief executive of the world’s largest online retailer, in an 8 minute YouTube video posted on Zappos’ website, told folks he “gets all weak-kneed when I see a customer-obsessed company.”

Check Out Line: Can a $298 laptop jump-start back-to-school?

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schoolbus2Check out efforts to get serious back-to-school shopping underway.

Wal-Mart announced plans to start selling on Sunday a Compaq Presario laptop for $298.

Gary Severson, Wal-Mart U.S.’s senior vice president of home entertainment, told Reuters he thought the deal represented a “screaming value.”

Amazon.com hopes results take spotlight off snafus

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US-KINDLE/Amazon.com reports second-quarter results this week and the online retailer is likely hoping projected market share gains take the focus off of two embarrassing Kindle blunders last week.  

 On Friday, Amazon acknowledged that it had deleted certain purchased e-books from the Kindles of an undisclosed number of owners. Why? Turns out that Amazon never had the rights in the first place to sell digital copies of the works. Poof! They went away.
    
As one blogger on Gizmodo wrote: “If you can’t be sure that you own something after you pay for it, what’s the point?”     
 
Amazon later acknowledged that it should have alerted its customers.
 
“These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books.  When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” said a spokesman. 

Check Out Line: Buying basics buoys big chains

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Check out the ten largest U.S. retailers.

The National Retail Federation’s STORES magazine is out with its annual ranking of the top 100 retailers.

wal-mart-meat-shoppersThe list shows that U.S. consumers have been focused on bargains and basic necessities, such as food and medicine.  Wal-Mart tops the lineup, followed by Kroger and CostcoHome Depot fell from No. 2 in 2007 to the fourth spot in 2008 as many shoppers decided to cut back on costly home-improvement projects.

“Don’t look at me, I’m just a kid — bill my parents!”

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bill2Ah, youth. How free and easy it all seems. Especially after the launch of a new payments system, BillMyParents.

The system geared to teens and tweens — who ideally have good relationships with their hopefully indulgent parents — allows parents to approve purchases coveted by their kids and foot the bill.

Check Out Line: Recession? Not at Amazon.com

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AMAZON-KINDLE/Check out the sales surge at Amazon.

The online retailer beat Wall Street expectations for quarterly earnings and revenue as lowered prices lured more shoppers online. It also benefited as sales of its Kindle electronic reader gained momentum.

The company increased revenue an unexpectedly strong 18 percent as cash-strapped consumers went shopping online, and Amazon’s own discount shipping program spurred purchases. 

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