First look at Borders' new site

<p>There is a lot to digest in the new site, which is still at beta and so has a few bugs, which we can assume will be fixed.</p>
<p>They have been very bold, and departed from a number of industry norms so it is going to be interesting to see if it works well for them.</p>
<p>Borders have hung their hat firmly on ease of navigation and inspiration for the consumer. The front-end features are designed to grab their target consumer: the heavy literary reader by the look of it.</p>
<p>In the week when <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/59833-new-regulars-shift-shape-of-book... pointed out that the internet had been successful in reaching heavy readers in the lower demographic groups</a>, Borders has departed from this and also the mantra that has driven most book e-retail of &ldquo;price and range&rdquo;.</p>
<p><img width="375" height="200" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Borders%20TV.jpg" alt="" /></p>
<p>There are clips of authors on Borders TV and Borders News with the latest book news. There is a forum and a blog as well. Features like these can become an end in themselves rather than an aid to getting a customer to buy, and the clips were not tagged to the product descriptions on those that I looked at.</p>
<p>On the other hand, the enhanced search is very cute indeed--a measure of how much the technology has improved at handling large amounts of data, and very consumer friendly.</p>
<p><img width="375" height="200" src="/documents/UserContributed/image/Borders_search.jpg" alt="" /></p>
<p>Results appear in a drop down window as you type the letters in. This will be good for their conversion rate, as it is said that up to 80% of sales start with search, which is the defining technology of the internet (see Google, for example). They have used this technology elsewhere so that descriptions appear as you scroll over the image.</p>
<p>Sites like <a href="http://www.play.com">Play.com</a> have peeled away gradually the enormous Amazon market share of the early 2000s by targeting key niches. Borders&rsquo; content is focused on another of these key niches: the up-market heavy reader.</p>
<p>The question is: is it the best at anything? Does the enhanced navigation do enough to make customers switch allegiance, when the deliverable range is only that of a leading wholesaler?</p>
<p>The heavy literary reader may want more than this.</p>