Customers will be encouraged to invest more time in trialling e-readers with W H Smith's new Kobo “store within a store” roll-out, the retailer has said.
Kobo-distinguished sections are to go into 100 WHS stores, and will include specially trained staff and demonstration equipment and videos.
Stephen Clarke, managing director of the WHS high street business arm, told The Bookseller the devices were selling well but e-book sales were lagging slightly behind. He said: “The hardware sales were better than our expectations. We took more orders than we were expecting before Christmas, since then it has continued to go really well. There is a lag in e-book sales in comparison to device sales, but people are bought these devices for Christmas and it is a while before they are activated. We are following the profile we got told to expect from Kobo in that regard.”
The store-within-a-store concept will mean large Kobo tables selling devices in dedicated areas, a large range of accessories and videos demonstrating how the Kobo store works. “It gives Kobo more presence in our stores and will encourage customers to have a longer sales experience with us and provides a much better market to try out different e-readers with us,” Clarke said.
The e-reading company, which partnered with WHS in October, also announced it was slashing the cost of its devices from this week (19th April), selling the Vox for £149.99., the Kobo Touch for £79.99 and the Kobo Wireless for £59.99.
Mike Serbinis, c.e.o. of Kobo, said: “We value our partnership with W H Smith and are excited to have dedicated, knowledgeable staff members who will educate W H Smith customers and introduce them to the benefits of Kobo. We know that in partnership with W H Smith we will deliver an engaging in-store experience that will demonstrate our expertise, best-in-class design, easy user experience, and innovative product line.”
WHS yesterday reported a 3% rise in group profit year-on-year for the six months to 29th February 2012, but said book sales were down 8% by volume like-for-like over the period.