Category Management at Borders

November 2002
by Curt Matthews

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When Borders announced the hiring of a high-powered executive from the grocery business to implement something called “category management” for its stores, the publishing community reacted with horror. “Books,” we said to ourselves and each other, “are not bananas.”

Then Borders revealed that the largest publishers were invited to participate in and help pay for market research, the point of this market research being to provide data for the “category management.” In other words, Borders was going to put the lions in charge of the zoo.

How has this frightening initiative unfolded so far? Well, the Careers book category has been put through the “preliminary assortment process”; this is the first step in a multi-step category management program expected to require 16-20 weeks per category to complete. The result of this very basic first step in that category, according to Borders, was a 10% reduction in the inventory stocked and a 4% increase in sales. This was achieved, they say, after the slowest-selling 20 titles out of a typical Careers shelf of about 100 titles were dropped and more copies of the best-selling ones were added.


What’s Happening Here?

If these numbers are accurate and similar results are possible across the board, category management has the potential to stunningly increase the profitability of Borders and they would be crazy not to go after it hot and heavy…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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