Live From NRF: Borders Taking Control of Website

New York – Consumers going to Borders.com will no longer be sent down the Amazon: Borders is breaking away from online giant Amazon.com. Speaking during a session at National Retail Federation’s annual conference, Borders vice president of e-Business Kevin Ertell said the bookseller will launch its own e-commerce site in its first quarter of 2008, which begins Feb. 3.

“Our e-commerce has been driven by Amazon.com, and that relationship is about to end,” Ertell said. “But there is a silver lining, because we’ve had built a marketing Website first, so the infrastructure is in place.” Baker & Taylor, a third-party distribution center, will handle direct fulfillment.

Ertell said operating its own e-commerce will give the Ann Arbor, MI-based company more control over its customer interactions and make it a true cross-channel retailer. The site will also provide Borders customers a sense of community.

Customers will be able to place an order online for pickup at a local Borders store. When a customer places an order for pickup, an employee at the selected store will be paged to pick and fulfill the order; the customer will receive a confirmation e-mail if the item is in stock.

Kiosks at Borders stores will enable shoppers to access their “wish lists” on the Website and check out customers recommendations in-store before making a purchase. Customers will also be able to use their Borders Rewards loyalty cards when making an online purchase, which Ertell said will help the company understand those 23.5 million buyers more.

“Because it’s a loyalty program, we’ll be able to track customer interaction with us across the channels and understand how they interact with us,” Ertell said. “And because the program is e-mail based, we can see first off if they read the e-mails, and how they react to offers.”

Currently, Ertell said Borders can only track non-commercial activities on its marketing Website, bordersstores.com, such as time spent on a specific page and page views.

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