For the past seven years, visitors to Borders.com have been automatically redirected to Border’s hosted site on Amazon.com. While hitching a ride on Amazon’s phenomenal growth at one time was likely a sound business decision, in hind sight that short-term fix to Border’s ecommerce woes handicapped Border’s online growth and its brand in general. The Border’s store on Amazon.com lacked its own identity and gave shoppers little incentive to continue shopping via Borders.com on subsequent visits. Not surprisingly, over the past five years, Borders.com traffic has remained virtually unchanged at around 250,000 unique visitors per month.
This past May that all changed when Borders.com re-launched its own website, and took back the reins to its online destiny. Toys R Us, it’s worth noting, made a similar decision two years ago, and since that time the toy retailer has successfully reclaimed its category leadership.
Not content to just launch a pretty website, Border’s did their homework and has created a site that offers book lovers an innovative experience that brings more of the joy of visiting a bookstore to the online world. One feature, the "magic shelf" seeks to more closely mimic the experience of browsing through bookshelves and discovering new titles.
Before re-launching the site, Borders.com traffic was half that of lesser-known bookstores BooksAMillion.com and Powells.com. Borders.com trailed its primary brick-and-mortar rival, BarnesAndNoble.com by a far greater margin. However, once the new Borders.com went live, there was instantly a spike in traffic that saw them vault past their smaller rivals and into contention with BarnesAndNoble.com.
Borders has been putting forth a strong effort to increase the traffic and sales on its new site. In July, Borders.com ran a campaign inviting its visitors to enter in a chance to win a $1,000 gift card by watching a short video that highlighted various features of the new Borders.com. Everyone who entered received something for their effort, such as discounts on purchases made on the site. This campaign was successful in increasing sales and creating more engagement on the site, as visitors who entered in the sweepstakes spent much more time on the site and were more likely to place an order.
Since its launch, Borders.com has seen its share of visitors placing an order steadily increase each month. In July, Borders.com converted 5.0% of visitors, which puts them in-line with BarnesAndNoble.com’s 5.9% conversion rate. Borders has attracted many new visitors to its site and the new traffic is purchasing online with increasing frequency.
Parting ways with Amazon.com already seems to be paying great dividends for Borders. After only a couple of months, the world’s second largest bookstore chain now has the online presence to match its offline magnitude.