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Do They Protesteth Too Much?

22 Aug, 2005 By: Stephanie Prange

Our research director Judith McCourt received several letters last week regarding her column in which she suggested rentailers are missing the boat on the new sellthrough business. Most rentailers reiterated the time-worn belief that they simply can't compete. Mass merchants can undercut them on price by using hits as loss leaders to sell other stuff, they said.

While that still may be true for certain titles at certain times, as the business changes, the marketplace may change as far as new sellthrough titles, too. I know it's slightly risky (what change isn't), but wouldn't it be a good idea to at least try to counterprogram with titles the mass merchants don't use as loss leaders?

Go to a mass merchant and look for what's not there. Perhaps do some research on your customer base and find out what they'd like to purchase that they can't find. Look at the special-order records for your store. Might it be profitable to carry some of those titles, rather than waiting for someone to ask for them? For every customer who special orders a title, there might be several impulse buyers who would like the same one.

Many business practices have a shelf life. Things that were true yesterday are not always true today. Perhaps it's time rentailers started looking at the new sellthrough business seriously.

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