There is no doubt that the globalization process has been developing rapidly all over the world. Multinational corporations are capturing the global markets making this trend actual in many countries. That is why there is a question whether small local companies can compete with the multinational corporations. One of such cases is the book industry with Amazon being one of its main global leaders. In addition, it has expanded all over the world due to its Internet basis of work. Consequently, local bookstores are suffering from the strong competition. Thus, the research paper is aiming at performing the value chain and strategy analysis of the local bookstores in Seattle and compering them to famous Amazon, Inc.
The object of discussion is a local Seattle Book Store that is called University Book Store at the University of Washington (University Book Store, n.d.). The bookstore has been in the market for a long time and has rich experience in running business. The company was founded in 1900 (University Book Store, n.d.). In spite of the fact that it is operating near large University, it is an independent business entity. The company is profitable and paying taxes to the government. In addition, it is considered to be the third college bookstore according to the criterion of total sales volume (University Book Store, n.d.).
The University Book Store has completely different strategy compared to two other bookstores under discussion, namely Black Bird Bookstore and Dark Carnival. In addition, it is important to say that the newly established and closing stores have different concepts of development. Kathryn Grantham has recently started a small bookstore called Black Bird Bookstore (McMurtrie, 2017). The company management has decided to create a family style of the bookstore, although there is an opinion that it is rather old-fashioned. There are very few books presented in the store. However, all of them have been read and tested by the employees of Black Bird Bookstore. Consequently, the readers are sure that their choice of book is a good one. In addition, the store is situated in the neighborhood, so it is a type of family store. From one side, such strategy is rather effective because it gives an opportunity to settle loyal relationships with each of the clients. However, from another side, the target market is rather narrow. They are men, women and children interested in reading who live in the neighborhood of Judah St.
The range of offered products to the customers is rather narrow. It is approximately 250 items now. However, the number is supposed to grow to 1,000 books. The value proposition to the customers is the previously tested books by the personal. Such strategy gives the assurance to the customers that the book is interesting and informative. However, there is a risk that tastes of the customers and workers of the Black Bird Bookstore may differ. Thus, the main elements of the customers benefits package are personal attitude to the customers, loyal relationships and tested books. Such customers benefits package gives an opportunity for the small bookstore to compete with large international corporations with the help of very attentive and friendly personal approach to each customer. The location of the store is 4033 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, b/t 45th Ave & 46th Ave, Outer Sunset (Black Bird Book Store, n.d.). The company has a website which is rather creative, but not very informative.
Another example of the small bookstore is Dark Carnival. It is situated in Berkeley, Dark Carnival, at 3086 Claremont Ave. and is currently closing (Taylor, 2017). The core strategy of the store is product specification. The company is offering only fantasy and science fiction books to the customers. That is why the target audience of the bookstore is very narrow. It includes people living in the neighborhood of Claremont Ave who are interested in fantasy and science fiction books. The value proposition of the Dark Carnival Book Store is well-developed book range in fiction style. As for the customers benefit package of the Dark Carnival Book Store, it deals with the fact that the company is gathering together people according to their interests in reading. They have opportunities to meat together, communicate and discuss the fiction readings. Thus, the main elements of customers benefit package are emotions, impressions and communication that are delivered by the store.
However, it is important to stress that there is a decreasing number of people who are interested in such type of books, especially in printed form. In addition, the company has a website, although it is not professional. However, there are the recommendations to different group of readers and information about upcoming events (Dark Carnival, n.d.). One of the core competitive advantages of the company is its rich business experience. The company has been in the market for more than 34 years. It is rather well-known and respected in the neighborhood.
The bookstore chosen for the research is University Book Store, which is rather large and developed entity that is situated near one of the local universities. The company is mainly targeting both men and women that are the students of University of Washington. The store products are various books that would help the students in the university studying process. Thus, the value proposition of the company is help in studying by offering various reading materials. As for the website, the company has its own page in the structure of the University of Washington website. It is well-developed and structured. Moreover, it gives an opportunity for more frequent page attendance for the target audience.
Black Bird Bookstore and Dark Carnival Bookstore are using the cost leadership strategies. It is the core element of the business strategy that helps them compete with the main competitors. In addition, an important part of the business strategy takes the positioning strategy. Black Bird Bookstore is using personal approach and own experience in reading that give them an opportunity to set the loyal relationships with the target audience. As for the Carnival Bookstore positioning strategy, the company is using the genre of the books in order to determine their target audience. The customers of the bookstore are people with the same interests in reading, which makes them feel comfortable and interested in meeting in the store for communication. In addition, the company is organizing different types of activities for its customers.
As for the University Book Store, the companys strategy is broad differentiation. The bookstore has different books and literature to offer for its customers. All literature items are targeted to help students with their education. Considering the fact that the Bookstore is cooperating with the University, the company has an opportunity to deliver the most effective and beneficial offers for its customers.
There is no doubt that Amazon is one of the book industry leaders. Consequently, it is a considerable competitor for the local bookstores. That is why the small companies need to developed effective strategies in order to overcome Amazon. After analyzing the business strategies of Black Bird Bookstore and Dark Carnival Bookstore, it is important to say that the companies are not competitive in comparison with Amazon. The customers have an opportunity to order the same books even for lower prices through the Internet. Moreover, Amazon Company can offer much more diversified and large product range to the clients, which makes beyond competition.
As for the University Book Store, it is important to notes that Amazon also has the list of education books for the customers to order and buy. However, the main competitive advantage of the University Book Store is the experience of bookstore managers in working with the students of the University of Washington. As a result, the customers have an opportunity to consult with the cash registers. In addition, one more important issue is the close geographic location of the bookstore to the University. The customers have an opportunity to come to the store and get the needed book fast and comfortable. Thus, considering the peculiarities of University Book Store target audience, it can be concluded that it can be competitive to Amazon Company.
One of the main strategies that will give an opportunity to change the companys strategy in order to make it more effective is widening the range of products offered to the customers. The University Book Store should concentrate not only on the education literature, but offer some entertainment readings for its customers. In such way, all reading needs will be satisfied among the target audience in the store. In addition, the company will become more stable on the market and avoid the season dependence, which is one of the considerable stores problems. During summer holidays in the university the sales level in University Book Store decreases and the company is suffering low profitability level, as the students stop using its services. Improvement of the product strategy will definitely help solve this problem.
The main national association that is engaged in the book industry is the American Booksellers Association, which was created in 1900 (American Booksellers Association, n.d.). It is a not-for-profit trade organization, which is targeted at helping individual bookstores to organize their work properly and effectively. The Association is providing different seminars and educating meetings for the bookstore owners who are the target audience of the American Booksellers Association. Independent College Bookstores Association is another bookstore trade association organization that is targeted at helping such bookstores as University Book Store in their business. It also consults the university and college bookstores in order to improve their work. Thus, such associations are rather beneficial for the bookstores, especially in the time of business crisis.