FINANCE

Barnes & Noble ends 2013 on down note

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Barnes & Noble reported disappointing financial results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2013. During the fourth quarter, Barnes & Noble reported a net loss of $122 million, significantly more than the net loss of $9.7 million reported in fourth quarter 2012. For the full fiscal year, the retailer posted a net loss of $154.8 million, compared with a net loss of $56.9 million the prior fiscal year.

Revenues for the fourth quarter declined 7.4% to $1.3 billion. Full year revenues totaled $6.8 billion, a 4.1% drop from fiscal 2012. The company said the adverse effect of inventory charges related to its Nook e-reader device was a major driver of its poor fourth-quarter and year-end performance.

“Our retail and college businesses delivered strong financial performances in fiscal year 2013,” said William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble. “We are taking big steps to reduce the losses in the Nook segment, as we move to a partner-centric model in tablets and reduce overhead costs. We plan to continue to innovate in the single purpose black-and-white e-reader category, and the underpinning of our strategy remains the same today as it has since we first entered the digital market, which is to offer customers any digital book, magazine or newspaper, on any device.”

For fiscal year 2014, the company expects retail comparable book store sales to decline in the high-single digits on a percentage basis. College comparable-store sales are expected to decline in the low-single digits on a percentage basis.

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Denver Matress parent leverages adaptive design for e-commerce site

BY Dan Berthiaume

Denver – Furniture Row, parent company of home furnishings retailer Denver Mattress, is using the Oracle ATG e-commerce solution to both personalize the Denver Mattress e-commerce site and make it adaptable to the format of any device the customer chooses to employ. Using the “adaptive design” website design methodology enabled by ATG technology, the Denver Mattress site instantly recognizes what type of device — such as PC, smartphone or tablet — a customer is using and optimizes display for that specific screen.

In addition, Oracle ATG functionality helps Denver Mattress provide online customers with personalized content and customized search options based on previous interactions and purchases, location and other factors.

“Customers browse merchandise and compare items using their mobile phones right from the showroom floor, or they start their research at home before they come in,” said Noah Linge, director of digital marketing at Furniture Row. “We want to make that as easy as possible for them, to help them identify what they want, no matter where they are or what device they are using. We considered creating multiple applications for different consumer devices, but we didn’t want to have that extra step.”

The e-commerce upgrade is part of a larger initiative to drive store traffic and increase sales across Denver Mattress stores in 30 states.

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Reemarkit seeks to reconfigure online resales

BY Dan Berthiaume

Wilmington, Del. – Reemarkit.com, a new e-commerce business that promotes itself as an “online garage sale,” is trying to reconfigure the booming business of consumers reselling used goods online. While such popular sites as eBay and Amazon allow individuals and businesses to resell used merchandise in exchange for a cut of the profits and/or listing fees, Reemarkit.com is technically free, but is employing a profit model more commonly seen in online video games.

To make a purchase on Reemarkit.com, users must first buy virtual currency known as “reemarks.” Users also can earn reemarks for performing activities, such as initially joining the site and recommending it to others, lending some mild gamification functionality to the site. There is no indication that reemarks can be transferred back to standard currency or used in any venue other than Reemarkit.com.

Reemarkit.com is taking a big gamble by basing its profit margin upon the creation of its own proprietary online currency. Online games that use their own virtual currency and rewards systems, like Second Life, are nowhere near as popular now as they were five or 10 years ago. While listing and selling items is cheaper on Reemarkit.com than on other similar sites, consumers may well prove willing to take a smaller profit in currency they can use anywhere, rather than only on the Reemarkit.com site.

While it’s not hard to envision a core community of “Reemarkiters” forming that could sustain the company enough to keep it going, it’s more difficult to imagine the site having any radical impact on how mainstream consumers buy and sell used goods online.

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