New Barnes & Noble CEO Sees Solid Foundation of Trust to Build Brand Loyalty

Demos Parneros might be the fifth CEO at Barnes & Noble in the past four years, but he is optimistic about the company’s future as it relates to brand loyalty. Parneros was named CEO in April when he was promoted from Chief Operating Officer.

“Over the past six months I’ve spent a lot of time visiting stores and meeting with our booksellers and customers,” Parneros said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “During those visits, I’ve heard a lot of valuable feedback on the things that we do well along with some areas that we can do better. Most importantly, I learned that customers love and trust the Barnes & Noble brand; it all begins with this premise, which provides a solid foundation to build from.”

Parneros is aware of the challenges that the company and the industry face, and he views them as great opportunities.

“There is no question retail is changing and customers are shopping differently,” he explained. “We don’t view this as a winning or losing proposition. It’s just simply changing. Barnes & Noble has a rich history of evolution beginning with the transition from small format, mall stores, to large superstores to competing online and launching our own digital platform. As a company, we have and continue to evolve, providing customers the ability to shop however they choose.”

There is no doubt that customers have a “love affair with their bookstores, and more specifically with their local Barnes & Noble store, Parneros noted.

“There are a lot of areas to examine within the store to stay current with today’s market and today’s shopping behaviors,” he said. “Today’s consumers want to shop their way whether it’s a store, online, or using their mobile device. Our goal is to deliver great shopping experiences, regardless of which experience they choose. To accomplish this, we’re examining every aspect of the business and our customer value proposition.”

What’s more, Parneros said company officials continue to learn a lot from the new test stores.

“This will help inform us as we re-imagine our store of the future,” he said. “We’ll continue to test and learn from these new stores and our goal is to develop new format that we can test, pilot, enroll. We’ll use the learning to modify and enhance our existing store base as well.”

In addition to the new store formats, Parneros said, the company is focused on growing sales in existing stores through a series of sales initiatives.

“Our team believes strongly in launching a series of tests that can help inform the future direction of the company,” he explained. “Currently, we have multiple tests in flight, including changing layouts to reflect today’s trends, right-sizing space allocated to underperforming businesses, including Nook and music DVDs, while expanding space dedicated to children’s books. We also see a big opportunity aligning our stores and digital offerings closer together. Our goal is to provide customers with any book, anywhere, anytime, and in any format they choose.” is an important component of the company’s omnichannel offering, Parneros said.

“In our experience, a multichannel customer is a more engaged customer that shops all channels and our goal is to continue to improve the experience, including the redesign of our desktop and mobile sites, which will be a phased rollout over the current fiscal year,” he said. “The goal of this redesign is to create a better user experience, make discovery easier for our customers, and increase conversion.”

Barnes & Noble experienced a difficult fiscal 2017, which say comp store sales fall 6.3 percent.

“As we turn to fiscal 2018, we are examining every possible way to ignite sales, including greater efforts to increase conversion, new store layout, enhancements to our membership program, and creative marketing offers,” Parneros said.

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