In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, George Jones, the CEO of Borders, discusses his company's plans
to remain relevant as more and more commerce is done online. Borders' story is an interesting one, in that its struggles are being felt by a wide variety of traditional retailers right now. Jones' insights into the changing nature of e-commerce is interesting. He notes that when Borders first decided to sell online, it pretty much had to partner with Amazon, because of the infrastructure that it had built up. Now, however, options for third-party fulfillment (also an area that Amazon is interested in
) will allow Borders to launch its own site (whether it's able to gain any traction remains to be seen). That being said, parts of his vision seems a little off. He imagines that one day customers will come into the store to buy digital goods, like music and e-books, an idea reminiscent of Starbucks' ill-conceived fill up stations
, where customers could get music for their MP3 players. The idea of tying a digital good to a physical location is not a model that customers are likely to embrace. Ultimately, there's no easy answer for a company like Borders. It can embrace the internet all it wants, but it's hard to see its fortunes being tied to much else than the continued success of selling physical books in actual stores.