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Share via Email How can a new, small-scale provider enter such a challenging market? The challenges facing small-scale book retailers were — and remain — both significant and numerous.
Aside from the obvious rise in online selling and competition from global providers, the impact of supermarket entrants, a staggering increase in the popularity of ebooks and the ongoing recession have all had a catastrophic effect on independent providers.
Scores of local bookstores continue to disappear by the day, with the number operating in down by a little more than a third on levels.
The obvious question is why a new, small-scale provider would voluntarily enter such a challenging market? From a personal perspective, our reasoning was sound: Having done our homework, one thing became clear.
In order for us to thrive, we would have to offer an engaging point of differentiation — something that none of our larger competitors already provided. And so the Willoughby book club was born. We launched our website in the summer of — and we haven't looked back. The premise of our service is simple.
We offer a range of book subscription gift packages, available in three- six- and month options. Our customers choose a package, tell us a little about the person they're buying it for, and we use this information to send the recipient a hand-picked, gift-wrapped book once a month.
Each volume is selected to meet the reader's literary tastes. The first book arrives with a personal message from the buyer. We also recently decided to give one new book to Book Aid International for every gift subscription sold.
These books are sent out to sub-Saharan Africa, supporting the educational work that the charity undertakes across the continent. Within four months of starting out, we'd moved from running a part-time business at our kitchen table to a full-time office-based venture. We were subsequently nominated for the young bookseller of the year award at the Bookseller awards, and even featured in the Guardian's top 10 gift subscriptions for Christmas We've seen our customer base grow considerably and are currently investigating product development, advertising and sponsorship opportunities for introduction later this year.
I think we can attribute our initial success to a number of factors. Most importantly, we offer a service that isn't readily available elsewhere in the UK market.
Our service helps to solve the problem of finding the perfect gift for the book lover in your life, without needing to source the books, gift-wrap or deliver them yourself. Aside from the appeal of our proposition, we've also benefited from some fantastic PR. We learned early on that the internet can be a very noisy business environment, and that it's important to shout about your product at every possible opportunity.
By approaching a number of influential bloggers, journalists and reviewers, we gained some very favourable coverage.
We take complete ownership of almost every element of our business, including marketing, PR, planning, logistics and supply chain management. This means we're able to see the direct impact of every decision we make, and it enables us to see just how hard every penny of our capital is working.
Our brief journey from wannabe booksellers to award nominees has been challenging, rewarding and educational.The Planner (W Book 1) - Kindle edition by Alexandra Swann.
Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading The Planner (W Book 1)/5().
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