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Bookstores charging for browsing and not buying?

Are bookstores charging for browsing or is it a crazy rumor? How is retail compensating for the advantage they have of people being able to try products, while threatened by online pricing?

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charging for browsing

Bookstores charging for browsing now?

Just over a year ago, Australian retailers responded to new laws that required brick and mortar stores to charge taxes but not online retailers by experimenting with charging customers for trying on clothes and boots, refunding the fee to actual buyers but keeping it when someone opts not to purchase anything. Now, there are rumors that bookstores could begin charging customers to brows their stores.

CEO of Harper Collins CEO, Victoria Barnsley stated on BBC Radio that bookstores charging for browsing may be in the future, noting the idea is “not that insane.”

Barnsley cited a report that only 35 percent of all fiction books sold in the UK are done so through a brick and mortar bookstore, noting that these stores are “under tremendous pressure,” and that in the current environment, charging customers “for the privilege of browsing” is not out of the question.

Another guest on the show pondered why someone would pay more for a book than they would to see the movie adaptation. While the real question remains whether or not physical bookstores will survive in light of the threat of online shopping and e-books, Barnsley notes that people still do fancy physical books, but e-books could soon split to 50 percent of the market.

Bookstores aren’t alone

Bookstores charging for browsing? If this were to become the norm, it could hurt their business more than it could benefit. Chain booksellers could very easily set the precedent and get the ball rolling, and of course later, see the error of their ways, leaving independent stores to adapt in response.

This conversation of balancing traditional sales with digital sales is not unique to bookstores or shoe stores. While not all companies require payment, many industries require an email address, for example Realtor sites that require registration in order to view available homes. The concept is not new, so perhaps a browsing fee may creep into other industries to compensate for lookie-lous.

For now, it’s just a discussion, but the idea could evolve into something more acceptable that still allows brick and mortar to use their physical presence as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. agbenn

    February 25, 2013 at 12:37 am

    I think it’s fair, I see 50 people lounging in barnes & noble at anyone time and no one buys, they sip starbucks and leave, reading books, magazines, and run to amazon to buy or go online – how can they survive like that?

  2. Karri Flatla

    February 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Their main competition is public libraries which increasingly resemble the coffee house vibe. I think our propensity to underestimate what people are “willing to pay for” is a bit comical. People will pay all kinds of user fees and produce premiums as long as the experience is perceived to be valuable in some way.

    Much like people balking at the consulting model in real estate. We ASSUME “no one will pay for it,” but alas … they absolutely DO.

  3. Pingback: Indie bookstores are pushing back on a ridiculously stupid law - The American Genius

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Business News

Peloton is back-pedaling: Reports of price increases, layoffs, and cost cuts

(BUSINESS) After a recording of layoffs leaks, ‘supply chain’ issues cause shipping increases, and they consult for cost-cutting, Peloton is doomed.

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Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Is Peloton in Trouble?

According to many reports, Peloton had success early in the pandemic when gyms shut down. Offering consumers a way to connect with a community for fitness along with varying financing options allowed the company to see growth when many other industries were being shuttered.

After two years, CNBC reports that the company is “being impacted by …supply chain challenges” and rising inflation costs. According to the report, customers will be paying an additional $250 for its bike and $350 for its tread for delivery and setup.

As demand has decreased, Peloton is also considering layoffs in their sales and marketing departments, overheard in a leaked audio call. The recording details executives discussing “Project Fuel” where they plan to cut 41% of the sales and marketing teams, as well as letting go of eCommerce employees and frontline workers at 15 retail stores.

Nasdaq reported that the stock fell 75% last year, after a year where it soared over 400%.

Peloton reviewing its overall structure

According to another report from CNBC, Peloton is working with McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, to lower costs as revenue has dropped and the growth of new subscriptions has slowed since the pandemic. Last November, according to NPR, Peloton had “its worst day as a publicly-traded company.” It also anticipates greater losses in 2022 than originally predicted. It makes sense that the company would reexamine their strategy as the economy changes. They aren’t the only one that is raising prices amid supply chain issues.

It will be interesting to watch how Peloton fares

Peloton has a large community that pays a monthly fee for connected fitness. While growth has slowed, the company still has a strong share of consumers. Although it is facing more competition in the home fitness market and more gyms are reopening, as Peloton adjusts to the new normal, it should remain a viable company.

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Business News

CEO is offering folks thousands to *quit* their jobs, with one catch

(BUSINESS) A CEO out of Arizona is challenging employment norms by offering a sort of “sign-off” bonus upfront, but this method has one fatal flaw.

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Man counting cash in his hand representing the CEO offering money to employees who quit.

Chris Ronzio, the CEO of Trainual, a software company in Arizona that aims to systemize and scale your small business, is offering cold hard cash to quit your job in an unconventional ploy to bypass the effects of the Great Resignation.

Before you rush to turn in your notice and make some extra cash, you should know that this offer is dependent on being selected as a hirable candidate and making it through the hiring process for Trainual. This option is also offered to new hires after 2 weeks of employment.

This model of employment gives the employee the ability to fire the company and walk away with a little sum of money. The thought process of the CEO was outlined in an article by the Insider, saying it is a strategic move to retain top talent and maintain a strong company culture. While this is a unique approach…it has a glaring flaw. The offer is only good for the initial two-week period. However, it can take some time to recognize the shortcomings of any company when you begin employment. We can all recognize the long-term financial potential of reoccurring income and while $5,000 is not anything to shake your finger at, it will eventually be gone. I think we can all agree that constructive criticism can be difficult to swallow at times, however, if Trainual was truly invested in this model they would extend the offer at other key times during employment. What if this offer was again available at the 1-year mark? If the offer reappeared at a one-year review, the turnover may increase.

Per the Insider article, Ronzio was quoted as saying, “With today’s market, hiring teams have to move quickly to assess candidates and get them through the process to a competitive offer, so it’s impossible to be right 100% of the time,” Ronzio said. The CEO added, “The offer to quit allows the dust to settle from a speedy process and let the new team member throw a red flag if they’re feeling anything but excited.”

These statements detail another dimension to consider which is the employment hiring process and timeline. If top candidates are in such high demand that the process has to be sped up to secure a workforce, this monetary compensation can help to ensure the hiring decision. Although, when the offer was implemented in May of 2020, the offer was $2500, half of what it is now. Ronzio reasoned that they could stay while they looked for another job so they increased the amount to compensate for those with a higher salary range.

Let me preface this by saying that yes, accountability should exist, but I would be interested to know the turnover rate for the hiring team. The cost to the company from this unique approach adds extra weight for those making the decisions on who to hire. The stress the hiring team faces has to be factored into the candidate decisions. How many times can the hiring team get it wrong before they’re let go? While the pressure to hire the right candidate should always factor in, one has to wonder about the effects of this model.

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Business News

Zoom fatigue? This new messaging tool is here to replace live meetings

(BUSINESS) Live meetings & emails can feel monotonous & unproductive. This new messaging tool offers everything we’re wanting in remote communications.

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Woman looking at ZipMessage messaging tool on her laptop on couch.

Even before the pandemic, meetings where everyone was corporally present were becoming less frequent. With technologies allowing for Jim to “conference in” from the east coast and Judy to “video in” from the west, computer-mediated meetings have been becoming the norm for quite some time. This has become even more true over the last few years, both due to the pandemic and due to new technologies such as ZipMessage. What’s that, you ask? Let’s ask the expert. “It’s a video messaging tool made for replacing live meetings with asynchronous conversations,” explained founder Brian Casel in his tutorial video of ZipMessage.

The tool is designed to create video, voice, and screen conversations without live meetings. It’s described as async video messaging software, made for remote work.

As the website explains, people everywhere are experiencing meeting overload. Remote teams everywhere are embracing asynchronous (“async”) communication to overcome three big problems with live meetings.

First, Zoom fatigue is a real thing. ZipMessage states that “your team craves the space for the high-value deep work.”

Second, great ideas are bound to get lost in these spaces. It’s impossible to retain each item being shared, even if taking notes.

Third, email doesn’t fully cut it. Typed messages don’t always convey the full message. With ZipMessage, you can still type your thoughts, but you also have the option of recording a video and sharing attachments.

The conversation about that meeting topic is kept to one page in a back-and-forth, threaded format. Anyone with a link can join in on the conversation without anything to download, install, or sign up for.

This allows you to talk in real-time while giving the opportunity to go back and recap what may have been missed the first time around. In addition to conversation pages and the face/voice/screen/text options, ZipMessage offers intake forms and the ability to go public or private.

It also includes integration with Zapier and Slack. There are embed options, automatic transcriptions, pre-recorded message templates, text and attachments, branded link URLs, multi-speed playback, and more.

This isn’t only useful for communicating with your team, but it can be used to share information with customers, as well.

Will you be ZipMessage-ing?

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