Crisis and Reality Construction

“Borders Group Inc. has decided you can sell a book by its cover.

“In a radical move aimed at jump-starting sales, the nation's second-largest book retailer is sharply increasing the number of titles it displays on shelves with the covers face-out. Because that takes up more room than the traditional spine-out style, the new approach will require a typical Borders superstore to shrink its number of titles by 5% to 10%.

“That makes the strategy a big gamble for Borders. Reducing inventory goes against the grain of booksellers' efforts over the past 25 years or so…

“With the book market facing unmitigated gloom, Borders has little choice but to experiment….

“Some think the move is overdue. Unlike modern supermarkets, booksellers haven't done enough to make books look attractive on the shelves, says John Deighton, editor of the Journal of Consumer Research.

“‘Breakfast cereals are not stocked end-of-box out,’ he says. ‘You want to your product to be as enticing as possible. It's a little bizarre that it's taken booksellers this long to realize that the point of self-service is to make the product as tempting as possible.’

“At the same time, Borders' willingness to reduce the number of titles it stocks reflects a growing view that store customers can be intimidated by too great a selection. ‘We can be overwhelmed or thrust into indecisiveness by the presence of a large number of temptations,’ Mr. Deighton adds. ‘People don't want choice, they want what they want. And what they want is sometimes constructed for them in the store by the attractiveness of what's on offer.’

“Borders says customers visiting its prototype store said their impression was that more books were available.”

(“Borders Tries About-Face on Shelves; Counting on Covers to Sell, Bookseller Changes Display While Cutting Titles Stocked.” Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg. Wall Street Journal: March 12, 2008. pg. B.1)

SO, WHICH MAKES YOU MORE NERVOUS -- change or stasis? constructing the customer's perceived experience or leaving them to "want what they want?"

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