May 27, 2008

Borders Returns to the Web

Borders Group has its own online presence once again after launching its Web site on Tuesday.

Aside from its brick and mortar presence, Borders had been paired with Amazon.com for seven years.

"It's not the intent that we're going to out-Amazon Amazon at what they do," Borders Group Inc. President and CEO George Jones said earlier this year. "What we think is that we can still have a great, compelling offering."

The site launched just over two months after the company announced that it might consider selling Borders to another group. Barnes and Noble Inc. is currently studying the possibility of such a deal.

Experts say the new Borders.com faces the task of forming its own presence on the Web again after being part of Amazon.com for so long.

The site has a new feature called "The Magic Shelf," which allows shoppers to browse a virtual bookshelf of books, CDs and DVDs. The staff picks section and a "Picked For You" section of personalized books will also be key features that add comfort to online shopping.

"The desire was really to make people who shop in bookstores comfortable with the site," said Kevin Ertell, vice president of e-business for Borders.

People who are a part of Borders Rewards loyalty program will be able to receive perks online, which they were previously unable to do when the group was partnered with Amazon.com.

The site will also offer used, out of print and rare titles.

Like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble's Web site, Borders will offer free shipping on some orders over $25. But Borders also offers free shipping to its stores, where shoppers will be able to pick up a box containing their order about two days after buying.

However, Fred Crawford, managing director at AlixPartners, says that even though consumers prefer brick and mortar stores, if they want to purchase anything online, they usually go to Amazon.

"Amazon just dominates," Crawford said. "Amazon is nearly unassailable."

In 2001, Borders, the nation's second-largest bookseller abandoned its money-losing online business, turning it over to Amazon.

Borders has said it expects the new Borders.com to be independently profitable in 2009.


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