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Due to intense competition and the desire to remain competitive, companies are forced to develop winning strategies as compared to their competitors. Barnes and Noble started its operations in early 1970s when one Leonard Riggio, then a university student at the New York University (Barnes and Noble, n.d) established it.
During its early years, the company enjoyed monopoly in the market, as there were no other competitors. This saw the company become largely involved in offering discounted books, acquire new market ventures especially in New York and Boston while at the same time acquired Book Masters and Marboro Books that in turn increased an already expanding outlet retail chains of the company (Barnes and Noble, n.d).
The growth of the company continued at an accelerated rate especially in 1980s when it acquired B. Dalton Bookseller that was being owned by Dayton Hudson. This event saw the company’s total outlet increase to 797, making Barnes and Noble the largest book retailer in the nation and the second largest company in America to sell books (Barnes and Noble, n.d).
As early as 1990s, Barnes and Noble had to swallow the bitter truth that it could no longer operate alone in the market. The presence of other companies such as Borders Group Inc., Amazon.com, Books-A-Million, Crown Books and Media Plax (Modi, Durkin, Kass and Ulin, 2000) have dictated that Barnes and Noble has to style up its operational procedures and strategies to remain competitive. Each of these companies has detailed strategies aimed at increasing its market advantages.
Some of the key resources and strategies possessed by these competitor companies include sophisticated inventory management system in the retail book industry; strong brand position; provision of outstanding value to customer compounded with superior shopping experience; massive sales volume; exploitation of economies of scale (Modi, Durkin, Kass, and Ulin, 2000).
Barnes and Noble strategic assets
Since the recent development of the ‘resource-based view of the firm’, much attention in research work in companies has turned to unique and hard-to-copy strategic assets of the firm.
For instance, companies have increasingly earned economic rents from these particular assets. Strategic assets have been defined at the functional or tactical level of the organization where in many instances they have been regarded to be set of abilities, capabilities, and capacities that are necessary for any company or organization to achieve the strategic goals that have been set (Mather, 2005).
Strategic assets will differ from one organization to another, although in some instances, they may be identical in nature but their operation will vary from one organization to another. To many organizations, strategic goals have become key elements especially with regard to strategic fit where organizations may source for partners.
Strategic fit generally take place between organizations and it refers to how complementary the company is in terms of assets and capabilities. Many organizations always mistaken strategic fit to involve looking for partners with identical assets and capabilities but rather it should involve those that are compatible or complementary (Mather, 2005).
As from 1996, Barnes and Noble became the largest bookstore chain in the world, a trend it continues to maintain up to now. For instance, during the 2010 EquiTrend Brand Study, Barnes and Noble for the seventh year was identified as the country’s top brand in bookselling (Bussiness Wire, 2010).
Further, another report ranked the country as the overall best brand in bookstore with regard to equity, familiarity, and purchase intent (Bussiness Wire, 2010). Therefore, one might be tempted to ask what the secret behind Barnes and Noble continued success is.
The essence is that the company possesses some key strategic assets, which it has utilized efficiently, one being that the company has acquired and developed several bookstore chains and superstores, which currently account for almost 85 per cent of the operating income of the company (Modi, Durkin, Kass, and Ulin, 2000). At the same time, the company has continued to maintain catalog operation and the publishing business as vital business ventures.
One of the strategic assets the company has discovered is in the use of internet where first it collaborated with American Online’s (AOL) becoming the only exclusive seller in the market place. In May 1997, to supplement the AOL’s the company launched its own website (www.bn.com) which has remained to be the leading online retailer of books, related complimentary information, entertainment and intellectual property-based products (Modi, Durkin, Kass and Ulin, 2000).
The company further has established itself as a brand name that constitutes superior brand recognition, which acts as a strong motivating factor to customers. It has extensive and superior bookselling experience that has been acquired for a long time making the company enjoy positive perception from consumers especially from its related offerings the company has initiated; moreover, the company for the time it has been operating has established a culture that is characterized by outgoing, helpful, and knowledgeable booksellers.
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As if not to end there, the company has a strong management team, which provides the required leadership and direction for the business as compared to other companies; company further promotes cross-marketing, co-promotion and customer acquisition programs; and lastly, the company has developed an efficient information technology that support store operations, merchandising and finance.
Using strategic assets to achieve the goals
Strategic assets at Barnes and Noble have largely been effective in accomplishing the following. Developing strategic policies, guidelines and processes that win the market; setting necessary objectives and performance expectations that the company deem to the best for the market; prioritizing the strategic opportunities either in marketing or acquisition of more store chains and lastly in handling product portfolio in terms of costs, risks and performance.
Based on the strategic assets available in the company at present it is clear and true to say that key strategic plan of the company especially in the long-run are going to be effective especially if the company stays upfront in terms of innovation and marketing.
The company’s strategic goals include growing in market share, increase its superstores while locating them nearer to consumers, enhancing and improving online browsing and shopping and lastly establishing, strengthening and expanding strategic alliance. Specifically the strategy alliance goal will be more effective if the company identifies its key strategic assets through SWOT analysis, which it can be able to compliment with key partners.
As Barnes and Noble continues to leverage its market competitive advantages through product innovation, re-design market growth and customer service, key to its success has been discovery and utilization of strategic assets of the company. The strategic assets in the company both tangible and intangible have played vital role on the way Barnes and Noble continues to outwit its competitors.
Barnes and Noble Company. Barnes and Noble History. Web.
Business Wire. (2010). Barnes & Noble Ranked the Nation’s Top Bookseller Brand by the 2010 EquiTrend Brand Study. Web.
Mather, D. (2005). The maintenance scorecard: creating strategic advantage. Industrial Press Inc. Web.
Modi, T., Durkin, M. A., Kass, C., and Ulin, M. (2000). Strategic Audit: Barnes and Noble. Web.