July 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

After Amazon, Borders builds a new online ‘bookstore-like’ experience

Entering a new chapter in its retailing strategy, Borders Group Inc. worked with more than 10 technology vendors to build a new interactive web site following its old Amazon.com platform. “Borders.com brings the bookstore experience to life,” says vice president of e-business Kevin Ertell.

Starting out fresh this year on a new e-commerce site after years of operating on an Amazon.com platform, Borders Group Inc. is writing a new book on bringing the physical in-store shopping experience to online retailing, the retailer says. “Borders.com brings the bookstore experience to life online, and our customers love it,” says Kevin Ertell, vice president of e-business.

While handling the design and development of the new Borders.com largely in house, Borders also relied on a team of more than 10 vendors to build the kind of interactive, customer-serving site it wanted after leaving the Amazon platform, Ertell says.

Magic Shelf

The new site’s Magic Shelf, one of its most celebrated features, was designed by Allurent Inc. with Flash-based Flex technology to provide more interactive shopping. Flex technology makes it possible for a shopper to call up windows of additional product information, or browse horizontally or vertically through the Magic Shelf images of books, without scrolling or leaving the page.

The Magic Shelf is also supported by integrated site search and guided navigation from Endeca Technologies Inc., letting shoppers browse and find products based on selected criteria, such as authors and genres. It also integrates with Borders.com’s merchandising applications to let merchandise managers set rules for displays of cross-sells, upsells, best sellers and timely promotions.

Borders also is moving its audiobook offerings into the digital age. Last month it launched Borders Audiobook Downloads, offering an initial 15,000 titles, including fiction and nonfiction bestsellers, classics, self-help and children’s books.

The multi-channel retailer plans to add hundreds of new audiobook titles every week, it says. Digital audiobook distributor OverDrive provides both the inventory and the underlying technology for the service.

Following are summaries of the roles of other vendors behind the new Borders.com:

 Bazaarvoice provides technology that supports customer-generated ratings and reviews.

 Brulant supports use of the IBM Corp.’s WebSphere Commerce platform including merchandising and marketing, account maintenance, management of product SKUs, shopping cart enablement, and integration with the Borders Rewards Loyalty Program.

 Sterling Commerce Inc. provides order management capabilities to support cross-channel selling and fulfillment. It provides a single view of orders across online and offline channels and the ability to forward orders in the most efficient way to the fulfillment centers. It also enables Borders.com to show customers visibility into available inventory.

 Baker & Taylor Inc. is the primary provider of fulfillment services for Borders.com and maintains an inventory of more than 700,000 book titles, 260,000 music titles and 70,000 movie titles.

 Alibris provides Borders customers with access to its inventory of more than 75 million used, rare and out-of-print books through the “used book” tab on Borders.com. Alibris manages inventory and customer service, and fulfills and ships orders directly to customers.

 Omniture’s SiteCatalyst analytics application is used by Borders to measure customer satisfaction with the Magic Shelf, search and navigation, and other shopping features. Borders used SiteCatalyst to measure and improve the performance of shopping features before making them permanent on Borders.com. The retailer also uses Omniture’s Discover tool to support personalized shopping experiences by segmenting customer shopping behavior across multiple criteria such as search topic interests, purchasing behavior and geographic region.

- ChoiceStream’s RealRelevance Retail Suite enables Borders to recommend products tailored to customers’ interests, including providing cross-sells and upsells in the shopping cart.

- Commission Junction provides Borders with access to thousands of affiliate web sites, plus metrics on sales driven from each affiliate.

- 360i, a digital marketing agency, provides services related to search engine marketing, display advertising media, behavioral targeting, and social and other forms of emerging media. It also provides analytics on marketing performance and data on customer behavior.

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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