Barnes & Noble focuses on physical and local experiences to differentiate themselves from Amazon

Wednesday, Dec 9, 2020

To keep Barnes & Noble as a leading book retailer, Chief Executive Officer James Daunt has strategized a plan to use local autonomy and physical experiences to be one step ahead of Amazon.

Store managers at B&N stores will have the ability to change displays and stock books based on their relevancy to the local community and trends within that. Allowing store managers to have this power is necessary to provide selections that are geared towards local tastes and offer a sense of personality to bookselling. By catering directly to local demographics, Daunt believes this will be the ticket to craft a unique in-store experience and win loyalty among consumers who may shop from Amazon to buy books.

“If we are not inspiring within our communities and able to attract customers to us, frankly we will not exist. How is it that bookstores do justify themselves in the age of Amazon? They do so by being places in which you discover books with an enjoyment, with a pleasure, with a serendipity, that is simply impossible to replicate online,” Daunt said.

Daunt understands that this strategy may not work for every B&N location right away, however this practice will eventually elevate the chain’s overall performance.

B&N’s shift in focus drives a common theme in retail right now – small-format, intimate gathering places. Many retailers have transitioned to smaller-format stores to bring more locations to the local community and offer more finely-selected products that are catered directly to their consumers. Merchandise at these small-format stores is often localized to the area or neighborhood, similar to B&N’s new initiative.

Another way B&N has already adapted this theme is with their “Barnes & Noble Kitchen” locations. There are only a few locations right now, however the concept is to bring B&N’s atmosphere and combine it with an upscale casual American restaurant, offering food, beer and wine. The in-store restaurant cultivates a physical experience that is entirely different than shopping online.

Smaller-format stores and intimate gathering places have become the future of retail as we know it. Providing these types of brick-and-mortar experiences, that are largely driven by the local community, provides convenience and a sense of familiarity for the consumer.

Source: Barnes & Noble Store Managers – Retail Wire, Barnes & Noble Kitchen
Photo Credit: Star Tribune

About Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest retail bookseller in the United States, and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products. The Company has over 600 Barnes & Noble bookstores in 50 states, as well as the Nook Digital business and one of the Web’s premier e-commerce sites, General information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be found on the Company’s website at

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