“Do you have” vs. “Do you want”

John Moore talks about Borders Reducing its Borders.

It turns out that cutting inventory by 10% and facing books out (instead of just showing spines) increased their sales by 9%. This is counter to Long Tail thinking, which says that more choices and more inventory tend to increase sales.

The distinction is worth noting, because there are two valid strategies.

You can stock everything, so that the answer to the question, "do you have" is yes.

Or, you can market and sell, not just take orders, so instead of answering that question, you’re asking, "do you want?"

Do you want this cool new cookbook about Spain? It’s right next to that amazing new novel about food in Spain…

Bookstores that follow this strategy need to be pickier about what they carry, organized differently (alphabetical order again!) and staffed differently as well. Don’t put all the cookbooks in a little corner. Instead, put books for me (whether they are cookbooks or computer books) together and make me delighted I found you.

This kind of bookstore needs to sell and merchandise and promote and tickle and promise and tantalize and thrill.

Hey, that might work for your business, too.