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Retail bookstores losing customers to websites

Lavanya.M
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A screenshot of an online bookstore
A screenshot of an online bookstore

: The luxury of staying at home, browsing the net and at the click of a mouse having your favourite book titles delivered at your doorstep is a tough model to beat. Which is why the trend of buying online is increasingly preferred by book lovers and retail stores are feeling the pinch.

Some of the leading book stores in the city have seen a decline in the number of walk-in customers to their shops.

“The lifestyle of customers is changing and people find it convenient to browse at home and get the books delivered. Also, there has been a slump in the retail sector of late, due to which there has been a shift in the buying patterns,” says V. Rajesh, category manager-books, Landmark.

“Gearing up for the future, our store too entered the online platform 10 years ago,” he adds. Book lovers say that once they experience online shopping, it becomes compulsive. They enjoy the comfort of shopping online, and the quick delivery time. The free shipping and huge discount margin offered is also another significant reason for their choice.

“Chennai is the No. 1 destination for indiaplaza.com, in terms of book sales. Over one lakh Chennaiites have so far bought books from our website,” says K. Vaitheeswaran, founder and CEO, indiaplaza.com.

These websites, buyers say, come in handy particularly when shops are out of stock of some titles. “Some of the international publications are not available in stores for which I depend on these websites,” says Yashwant Kodali, a student at IIT-Madras who uses online bookstores. “Websites offer good discounts on some of the old books and bestsellers,” he says. Buyers also note that many online booksellers have diversified to offer other products like electronic gadgets and appliances.

However, people who frequent book stores say that they are sometimes not always convinced by the review and ratings found on websites. “We have to sometimes go by the reviews offered by the website,” says a customer at a popular book store.

Also the experience of glancing through shelves of books continues to attract customers to stores. “I use websites to buy books that I already know I want. But I also visit book stores, because on these shelves I come across some books that I may have wanted to buy and would have forgotten about. Or to look for other interesting titles that I may not have heard about,” says Stacy Marking from the UK. “I love to feel and flip the pages before I buy it,” she says.

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