October 5, 2007, 12:00 AM

Borders gives web shoppers a look at what’s coming next

By clicking on beta.BordersStores.com, visitors can see Magic Shelf, a three-dimensional shelf of book covers displayed as they would be in a Borders store, and Picked for You, a digital bookshelf displayed following a product search.

Borders Group Inc. is giving web shoppers an early peek at its new e-commerce site.

The books retailer has launched beta.BordersStores.com, which includes a number of new features Borders will incorporate into its new e-commerce site, scheduled to launch in the first quarter.

By clicking on beta.BordersStore.com, visitors can see Magic Shelf, a three-dimensional shelf of actual book covers displayed as they would be shown in a Borders store, and Picked for You, a similar digital shelf of books that will be displayed after users have conducted a product search.

The beta site also lets visitors use Borders’ advanced search, which includes more detailed returns with pricing information, view employee and customer book reviews and create a wish list. “It is so important for us to hear what customers have to say about our beta site,” says CEO George Jones. “When the new Borders.com launches in 2008, it will truly be created with our customers and not just for them."

Like the expected final product, the beta site also lets visitors view detailed content such as "Live at 01,” which includes archived broadcasts of in-store author events and readings, participate in online book clubs and chats and set up a customer loyalty account. “We are seeking to differentiate Borders by blending the best of the online shopping experience with the best of the bricks-and-mortar experience to create a greater overall customer experience,” says Jones.

In March Borders announced that the chain was ending its third-party relationship with Amazon.com and building its own e-commerce site on an IBM WebSphere platform. The beta site doesn’t allow customers to complete an e-commerce transaction.

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