Yesterday I wrote about solutions that are helping retailers blur the line between online and offline shopping experiences by making the Web a little more like a physical store.
While physical stores offer customers the option of actually seeing and touching the merchandise and (in theory) have folks on hand to answer shoppers' questions, they can't offer the breadth of stuff found online and will just never be as convenient as purchasing with a mouse click.
At least one retailer, bookseller Borders, is testing concept stores that incorporate some features of online shopping into the offline world, reports eWEEK. Among the features: digital centers that let folks create CDs, download audio and video content, and even create and publish their own books, and kiosks that offer access to customer reviews, author interviews and other reader content.
Critics of the concept say the stores are not innovative enough and don't offer enough incentive to get folks away from their PCs and into the store. eWEEK's Dan Berthiaume disagrees, writing that by adding some Internet concepts to physical stores, "Borders is making a commendable step toward bringing the 20th century store experience into the 21st century."
The stores are more likely to appeal to dedicated readers than to casual shoppers, adds Berthiaume. And that may be the rub. After all, if you believe Apple's Steve Jobs, "People don't read anymore."