June 25, 2008, 12:00 AM

New Borders concept stores feature web and digital interactivity

The first of 14 Borders concept stores will be heavily laden with web-based tools, such as computer kiosks for researching and booking travel and accessing Borders.com to check store inventory for book and video titles, or to place orders.

New Orleans is the site of a new “concept store” from Borders Group Inc. that aims to offer new services that entertain and inform shoppers. Key features in the first of a planned 14 stores across the country include web-based tools such as computer kiosks to book travel and access the bookseller’s new e-commerce site, Borders.com.

Scheduled to open in October, the 26,000-square-foot-store in New Orleans will be among the first concept stores and is designed as an “enhancement over existing stores inside and out,” the company says.

Web-based services include computer kiosks where shoppers can use digital and Internet tools for researching a trip and booking their travel. Self-service Borders.com stations will enable shoppers to access Borders’ new e-commerce site in the store. Shoppers can check the availability of a particular title and its location in the store, or order products from the site. Books, music and movies ordered at the kiosk can be shipped directly to a customer’s home or to the store for pick-up.

The new stores also will include a digital center where customers can mix and burn their own CDs, download books and music, publish their own books, explore their family history and create photo books. Borders specialists can assist customers of all technical levels.

Internet access also is available throughout the new stores. The concept stores use T-Mobile HotSpots that will enable consumers using Wi-Fi enabled laptops or PDAs with a T-Mobile account to access the web.

Borders is a $3.8 billion retailer of books, music and movies that operates more than 1,100 stores and employs about 30,000 people worldwide. The company recently launched Borders.com for online shopping, but hasn’t broken out web sales to date.

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