International Bookstore of the World 2016 – Mark Robbo Managing Director said Readings was“.. delighted and extremely honoured to receive .(the) award.”
This award was no accident.
The E-Book revolution, mono-cultured multi-national book stores and the Independent book store.
With the advent of the E Reader technology & Amazon’s aggressive marketing strategy in the early 2000’s the owners of Readings in Carlton needed to meet this new challenge and develop channels of distribution that could match this potential disrupter.
In 2003 Borders opened a store in Carlton directly opposite to the Carlton Readings store. Best selling authors’ books were being sold for less than Readings could buy them from the Wholesalers. “It’s how they do it, big chains: they cut their prices to a loss-making level to wipe out the small, fragile independents that created the business opportunity in the first place.”
Readings Carlton was established in 1969 and by 2016 has expanded with additional stores located in suburbs and communities in Melbourne in which the ‘target’ customers live.
There have been casualties. The Book store chains Borders and Angus & Robertson no longer exist due to E-Books and poor management. These book stores were larger and part of a chain that apparently failed to provide a service and/or a product that the consumers wanted – a tidy environment in which to peruse and discuss books they wanted to read. They were too late adopting the web (Borders actually outsourced all on line sales to Amazon) and too late to the E-Book space.
These stores were only selling books, Readings was then and is now selling books and a literature ‘service’. Discussions and integration of literature into the community is fostered, funded and promoted.
The Readings Experience and smart effective distribution channels
In contrast to the above organisations Readings’ management became the manufacturers of the ‘Readings Experience’ and proceeded to devise and refine smart distribution channels for this customer service offering.
‘We’re trying to create an online space that reflects our shops,’ says Emily Harms, marketing manager of Readings. ‘We “hand sell” books through our blog posts and social media recommendations.” These channels make access to books, music, film and TV easy and instructive to the consumers. A responsible community member, Readings donates 10% of all sales revenue to the Readings Foundation which provides grants to Victorian organisations that support literacy and the arts within the community.
Products are available at all five stores (bricks & mortar) and on line via the Web page.
Customers are also encouraged to participate via Facebook and Twitter.
Transport for on line purchases is Australia Post with fixed rates for Australian & worldwide distribution.
Modified Push distribution strategy implemented
There is a commitment to a “push” strategy for the ‘Readings Experience’.
- Staff and sales force – knowledgeable staff at all locations welcoming discussions on the books in store and who also write book reviews, Blogs and communicate via Facebook and Twitter. “it’s all about sharing our love of good books with those around us.”
- Selective distribution via establishing the stores as meeting places for all age groups with regular free literary events ranging from readings of childrens’ books to discussions with Gloria Steinem, Helen Garner or Peter Carey.
- Associations with partners such as Nick Cave & Paul Kelly (musicians & authors) with long term connections to the St Kilda store
- Book launches
- 20% price discounts offered to Schools and Libraries
- Regular bargains are available via shopping on line.
- Readings Monthly Free Independent Newspaper (insert to the Age Newspaper) which provides advertising for literature and musical events plus the regular events run by Readings at the store locations.
Adaptability in the market place should produce efficiency dividends
Iacobucci notes that some companies adopting individual distribution system do it very well. Iacobucci, 2008, page 129. Oppewal H, Tojib and Louvieris (2013, page 2226) note that if an organisation is to remain competitive consumers must be offered different contact points and Rawwas, M, Lyer, N.S, (2013), page 688 note that when channel members work efficiently delivery of the items is more efficient and cheaper.
The Readings distribution strategy meets all of the above points.
- Bricks & mortar,
- knowledgeable staff,
- Technology presence via Web Page, Facebook, Twitter, linked Blogs
Readings met the challenge by adapting and evolving with distribution methods and channels and is continuing to reap the rewards. Per Aldin, N and Stahre F, 2003 p278 state that logistics is an “important . in the business model, strategic flexibility………….”is essential to remaining relevant in the constantly changing E commerce environment.
Readings management forged a distribution process that ensures all of these items provide the consumers with choice & opportunities for engagement with literature, film & TV.
The 2016 Inaugural Best Book Store in the world is justly deserved.
B.E.J. Evans (EvanPilk)
Iacobucci, D 2008, MM4, Student Edition, Cengage Learning, Mason Ohio USA
Oppewal H, Rooslani D T, Louvieris P, 2013, ‘Experimental analysis of consumer channel-mix use’, Journal of Business Research, 66, p2226-p2233.
Mohammed Y.A. Rawwas *, Karthik N.S. Iyer, 2003, ‘How do small firms possibly survive? A comparison study of marketing skills and logistics infrastructure of small and large wholesalers’, International Business Review , 144, p270-p279
Aldin N, Stahre F, 2003, ‘Electronic commerce, marketing channels and logistics platforms––a wholesaler perspective’, European Journal of Operational Research, 144, p270–p279
Condea C, Thiesse F, Fleisch E, 2012, ‘RFID-enabled shelf replenishment with backroom monitoring in retail stores’, Decision Support Systems, 52, p839 – p849