Borders launches new e-commerce site

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More than a year in the planning, book retailer Borders has launched its first independent e-commerce Web site in seven years, ending a long-term relationship with Amazon.com.

Much has happened in the year since Borders first started talking about the new site, including a slowing economy and the company's recent announcement that it would seek strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company. Borders is positioning the new site as an important strategy that could provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

“By creatively combining the assets of our new online channel with the many advantages of our stores and vice versa, we're giving customers an elevated experience that we believe they'll find more satisfying than anything else in bookselling today,” said George Jones, CEO of Borders Group, in a statement.

The new features of the Web site include The Magic Shelf, which seeks to recreate the in-store experience of shopping for books, music and movie titles and can be expanded up, down and side to side to reveal up to 20 shelves of titles. The Magic Shelf can also be personalized. 

Another feature is Borders Media, a collection of exclusive and original video programs created by Borders. The programs include "Borders Book Club,” featuring real-life neighborhood book club meetings with the author present for the discussion and "Borders Kitchen,” which features chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Mario Batali.

The Borders Rewards loyalty program has also been expanded with the launch of the Web site. Until now, members could only earn and redeem rewards in stores. Now they can take advantage of the program online.

Other new features include the ability for shoppers to check inventory at a local Borders store and reserve an item for pick up later. Customers can also order an item online or via one of Borders' in-store kiosks and have it shipped wherever they'd like.  

The Web site also offers customers a Wish List function, which can be accessed in store or e-mailed to friends.

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