a guest post by Jacob Thompson

A lot of news organizations love to run stories complaining about how technology and the internet
have contributed to the decline of the brick and mortar bookstore. A lot of the technologies on the
market today, however, can be used by bookstores to expand their customer base and their business.
Technologies such as social media, web sites, and mobile technologies can be used to attract new
customers and increase sales.

Creating a Web site for your bookstore is one of the most basic ways to get new customers purchasing
from your business. Many bookstore use a website to provide general information about their business
to consumers everywhere. Many bookstore owners are now using social networking sites to stay
connect with their existing customers by offering discounts and deals that will keep the customer
coming back. These social networks help a customer to feel a personal connection to the bookstore,
making them more likely to think of the store first when they need to buy books or make a special
order.

Real growth is seen when a bookstores decides to open an online store or catalog. This immediately
broadens the potential customer base from just the surrounding community to the entire world. While
online stores were at first only used by big chain bookstores that could afford to hire full-time web
developers, there are many software applications today that can turn your catalog into an online store.
In addition, there are now several different merchant services companies that charge reasonable fees
to process credit cards online. Both of these things make it possible for a small bookstore to attract
customers through the Web.

Specialty bookstores have found this to be a great asset, since they typically offer products not found
on big sites. Potential customers can use a search engine to look for a specific product, then they
become a customer of the bookstore when they place an order through the store’s website. Sellers of
antique and rare books are able to use online stores to make more potential customers aware of their
exact inventory. In some cases, bookstores have reported that they are able to double or triple their
sales by opening an online store.

Finally, there are new mobile technologies that make it possible for bookstores to allow their customers
to make purchases on their mobile phones and to process credit card payments away from the
bookstore. Some booksellers are using these capabilities to expand their marketplace to craft fairs and
festivals, essentially creating a mobile mini-bookstore that can change out its inventory to match up to
a special event.

With 70 percent of American households spending at least two hours a day on the Web, bookstores
can’t afford not to have available on the Web. Opening a Web site and online store gives a store an
advantage over their customers by creating a larger potential customer base and it also makes a store
seem more established. For all these reasons, taking advantage of these new technologies is critical for
owners to ensure the future success of their business.

Jacob Thompson is a writer for Merchant Seek, a Savannah-Ga.-based company that gives advice
to small businesses. His credit card processing companies reviews have appeared on several small
business Web sites.

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