Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bookstore Management System

Developing a bookstore management system is a continuous process. Every bookstore is unique and cannot be generalized into a uniform system. Bookstore managers may apply and integrated database point of sale and inventory control system but during its implementation customization often occurs.
I am not going to discuss how a bookstore should be managed because I have written some articles about it in my previous posts. What I want to say in this post is that a bookstore management system should be planned, implement and improved continuously. From the operational task on the store floor, to the ordering and selling of books, the system should help everybody involved in the running of the bookstore work together to reach the target profit.
We may say that a bookstore that is opened in a certain city or town has some mission such as helping college students to get the books that they want. But we must not forget that a bookstore is a retail business. If it cannot make profit then its management system has to be reviewed and improved.
Bookstore management software - The improvement can be in the field of supporting software that runs the whole retail operation of the bookstore or the replacement of store personnel with professionals who understand the operation of a bookstore. Software should be seen only as a tool. It cannot run if the staff of the bookstore is not well trained to use it. A well developed bookstore retail software can integrate a group of bookstores in a region.
In order to get a lot of customers, staff of a bookstore must have a system that can gather information about the title of the books which people need. Don't try to order the books which students or town dwellers do not really need. For example, a bookstore is opened in a coastal city. People will be interested in buying books about fishery, shipping or marine tourism. If the managers mistakenly sell too many titles of books about mountain climbing or skiing at the foot of Mount Everest, the revenue of the bookstore next month would be devastating. So, a good bookstore management system should have a mechanism where people can inform the staff of the bookstore about books which they really need.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bookstore Management Software

The software for bookstore management that I use to run my bookstore are divided into a number of categories such as for word processing, database management, and spreadsheet. The bookstore management system will be better if it is implemented or run with computer software.
Word processing software for bookstore
Word processing software that I usually use are Microsoft Word. This is used to write letters, order books by fax machine or print announcements and book categories and big price labels on each bookshelves.
For writing articles on this blog, I use notepad. This is the simplest text editor which is free of any html or javascript code. When I am writing this post, the notepad does not such features as align text right, left or justify which are usually found in most of the word processing softwares.
Spreadsheet software for bookstore
Microsoft Excel is the software that I always use when doing the budget calculation. It is easy to use. The budget for the books that will be ordered from suppliers in Java needs to be arranged and calculated using Excel. The columns will consist of such entries as No, Titles of the books, retail price (in Java), discounted price given by publisher or supplier, the number or quantity of books that are ordered and finally the total cost of the books including the shipping cost. Excel will perform the calculation in no time when all the unit price of the books and the shipping cost is entered in every cell.
Microsoft Excell is also needed to print the price labels of the books before they are placed on the bookshelves using simple feature of the program i.e., mail merge
Point of Sale and Inventory System
POS and Inventory Control Software. This is one of the most important computer softwares that every bookstore must have. The software that I use in my stand alone deskstop is SimpleBiz. This software actually is not designed for bookstore but for small retailer. So, every retail store can use it. This POS and inventory control software has been developed by Bamboomedia, a software development company whose headquarter is in Bali, the most favorite tourist island in Indonesia. In the packaging box of the software, it says that SimpleBiz was made in Microsoft Access. So, if your computer uses operating system and database management software other than Microsoft Windows and Access then it will most likely that you cannot use Simplebiz. Simplebiz is very cheap. I bought it for only 42,000 (or around 4.6 US dollars if calculated based on the current exchange rate of 9,000 rupiahs per 1 US dollar). Because I bought it directly from Bamboomedia online shop, I had to pay some shipping cost. In total this Simplebiz POS and Inventory Control software was only less than 8 US dollars.
Software for Online Bookstore Management
Because I also sell the books via my online store, I need a number of software for that business. I don't use shopping cart software such as VPASP, Zencart, OS commerce and other e-commerce softwares which most retailers use for running their online shops. I only use wordpress.com. It is free and it is a blogging platform software. To upload the posts which contain the such information as the Titles of the Books, the Thicknesses of the Books, the Synopses of the books, the Sizes of the books and the weights of the books; I use blogdesk. Before that I use Zoundry Raven. This is a blog editing software which is available for free on the internet. When somebody on the internet orders a book, his or her order will be sent to an email address which will be downloaded using Microsoft outlook or Windows Mail
Except for the SimpleBiz software that I described above, bookstore owners can use the equivalent sofwares for running their bookstore without having to spend large amount of money. OpenOffice.org have developed softwares that are quite stable and have features that we can use for free. Until now I haven't found any software that have specially been designed for bookstore management. I hope that by reading this article, you can get some ideas who how a home based bookstore like mine is run and manage every day. by Charles Roring
Also read:
Managing a bookstore the difficult part
Manage a bookstore
Bookstore management principles

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bookstore Management

What does a bookstore management entail? This is a question which only an experienced bookstore owner or manager can explain. Well, there are a lot of aspects that we must handle when running a bookshop such as the purchase of books from suppliers, the display of merchandise on the bookshelves and the use of POS and inventory system software that are suitable for the book-selling business. The database management of a bookstore becomes more complicated when it combines the brick and mortar with click and mortar business.
Managing a bookstore is similar to managing a conventional retail store. The process is similar but the merchandise and the customers are different.
Choosing a bookstore location
In retail management textbooks, we are taught that location plays very important role in determining the success or failure of a retail stores such as supermarket, department store and of course a bookshop. Big companies tend to hire a trading-area analyst when they want to open a store in a new location. Most often a shop will be opened in a location where the number of population is high or crowded or in a well planned business district.
If you are somebody who is thinking of opening a bookstore for your lifetime business, you need to carefully analyze the demographic condition of the town city dwellers where you live.
  • How many elementary schools are there in your town?
  • How many junior and senior high schools?
  • How many colleges in your schools?
  • Are there any universities in your town?
That's the questions which you need to see before deciding to choose the right location for your new bookstore. Find a place where there are several school buildings around and sell the books that the students, teachers and lecturers really need. My Xavier bookstore is located in the middle of a place where there are 5 elementary schools, and 1 junior high school, 2 churches (1 Roman Catholic church and 1 advent church) within the radius to 100 to 300 meters. Although there are 3 universities in my town and some high schools, they are far from my home.
Identifying and Understanding Potential Consumers for my Bookstore
Although my bookstore is located near the elementary schools, it does not mean that I only sell books for elementary school children. My main target actually is the parents who always come to bring or pick up their children. Why? Because parents also need books and they have money to buy them. After choosing the target buyers, I then analyze the occupations, educational background or professions of these parents. Potential customers for my Xavier bookstore (university and high school students) who live far from my bookstore can be reached through advertisement of my bookshop in local newspaper, or brochures that I regularly distribute through the regular visitors of my bookstore. Do you understand what I mean? I will explain more about this in a section about promotional strategy.
Information Gathering and Processing in Bookselling Business
Retail information system should be adopted by bookstore owner even when the business is still small. What type of information should a bookstore business collect to perform its functions? Depending on the scale or size and type of your bookstore, the information that your gather can be as simple as book titles and their selling price to as sophisticated as book titles, authors, synopsis, publishers, purchase price, selling prices, shipping cost, regular buyers, monthly order volumes and location of the books in the bookshelves that have been numbered.
POS and Inventory Control Software for a Bookstore
My bookstore only uses a simple point of sale (POS) and inventory control software which only collects the number of stocks, the title of the books, the inventory number, the purchase and selling prices of the merchandise. I bought the POS software for less than 6 US dollars through an online store named Bamboo media that is based in Bali. The POS software operates on Microsoft Access platform and can give me quick report of daily selling of books including the amount of money, change, and number of books.
Chain bookstores that have branches in several towns or cities will need a more comprehensive inventory management system that can provide OLAP (online analytical processing) capability. CEO or decision makers of the bookstore enterprise can analyze the performance of all the bookstore operating in various different locations in real time and immediate solution or supply to branches without conducting business meetings. So, the database management system of a bookstore should be learned and studied by a bookstore owner or manager when the business is still small.
Promotional strategy of bookstore
The simplest form of promotional strategy is advertising. It is a kind of nonpersonal communication delivered through mass media such as newspaper, radio, TV, the web. I personally have stopped paying a lot of money for buying an advertisement space in a local newspaper's page. Instead, I regularly print brochures containing the title of newly arrived books and put them inside the plastic tote bags together with the books that my customers buy. So, I don't have to spend a lot of money for the promotional campaign, only around 10 US dollars per month for buying A4 size paper and ink for printing the book info brochures. Newly arrived book info brochure is one of the most effective and highly targetted promotional tools that I frequently use every month.
Pricing in Retailing and Profit margin of a bookstore
I have been running my bookstore for nearly four years now. Its annual selling is increasing 100% even during this economic downturn at the moment. This small home based bookstore sold books worth about 44,400 US dollars. For people in Europe or in the US, it might be a small amount of money for a business. But for average Indonesian people who could make 100-200 US per month, it is definitely a lot of money. So, what is the average profit margin of a bookstore? The determinaton of profit margin should be based on the purchase price of the books. If I buy or order books in large quantities from a publisher or a big discount bookshop, I will get discounts. The discounted price will then be added with shipping cost. When the books and other merchandise (such as school supplies goods) arrive in my bookstore, I will have to unpack them and attach price label on each books. The final selling price = purchase price + shipping cost + profit margin. The profit margin = operational cost of a bookstore (salary of the employees, electrical, telephone and internet bills + government tax + monthly rental cost of the building) + 10% to 15% revenue. It looks complicated to calculate them but if you know how to operate a spreadsheet application such as Microsoft Excel, then it can be done in just a few clicks and presses of computer buttons. On the average, the selling price of a book is 30% to 40 % higher than its purchase price. Don't charge too high profit or your bookstore will not be competitive anymore. For larger bookstore chain company, the overall after-tax profit can be as low as 2.6 percent of sales! Very low isn't it? by Charles Roring

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Managing a bookstore the difficult part

Someone type a phrase "the difficult part in managing the bookstore." To answer this question I will devide the management of bookstore in to four topics of attention
The MerchandiseBookstore sells books and school supplies. That's what we know about. In one bookstore, there are tens of thousands of book titles. The title of books are more diverse than the kinds of merchandise that you usually see in the supermarket. If you don't know how to group them then your customers will face difficulties in finding books that they are looking for. So, you need to separate books about economics from the books about house design and books about health from books about computer. Book categories are the right keyword for this. And every category of books must have its own bookshelves. When customers enter your bookstore and find that the books have been orderly arranged according to such categories as school textbooks, religion, fiction, and law, they will enjoy shopping in your bookstore. They will not get headache when trying to find certain titles because they will know the most likely location for the books that they need. If the title of the book is How to start, run and maintain a home business then the exact location of the book will be in the category of economics or entrepreneurship. To organize tens of thousands of titles of books, you will definitely need a computer software. Microsoft Excel or Access and other software that are similar to them are highly recommended.
Building of the BookstoreThe building where your bookstore is running should clearly show to the people that it is a bookstore. You need to install a big name plank which says that it is a bookstore that people pass by. Because the number of customers who enter the bookstore can be as low as ten (for every small bookshop) to as high as ten thousand (to a super large bookstore), bookstore owner needs to ensure that the flow of the movement of the customers walking around inside the bookstore has to be as smooth as possible. With hundreds to thousands of people enter your bookstore every day, cleanliness is a must. In addition, the structure of the building should be strong enough to support the books and their bookshelves as well as the people who move around inside it. 
People who run the bookstore
The success of the operation of a bookstore lies in the people who manage and run it. From the bookstore owner to staff who work near the bookshelves, the operation of the bookstore depend on them. Every employee must have a clear job description. He or she must work synergitically with other employees to serve the customers and to manage the bookstore well. Manager of a bookstore has to be a person that can manage and delegate certain tasks in every level of bookstore operation to the right persons.
Database Management System and Administrative Works
Database is the heart of a business. A well managed database ensures that a business is also properly managed. Therefore, the staff who has been appointed to sit in that position must have excellent knowledge about how the database of a bookstore should be developed, managed or maintained. In addition to a sound database management system, the administrative works of a bookstore should be given the same attention and priority. Most often bookstore owner does not see administrative works as not as important as marketing and selling. Correspondence with book suppliers and small independent publishers are important to build a trustable partnership with all of the people who are involved in book writing, book publishing and book selling.
There are still a lot of things that we can discuss about bookstore management, the above four topics of attention are a good overview for those who want to set up and run their own bookstore. by Charles Roring

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bookstore owner educational background

I have just read on the feedjit live that someone typed, "educational background of a bookstore owner" in search engine google and arrived in this blog. Well, to answer that question, I will ask whether there is a school, I mean a study program in a university that deals with bookstore management or simply how to manage a bookstore. You will find that most of the universities do not have such specific study programs. There are special program for people who want to work as librarians but there are not any program about bookstore management although you can see that there are tens or hundreds of thousands of bookstores around the world.
There are no restrictions to anybody who wants to have or run his/her own bookstores. Similar to other retail businesses, the owners must have adequate knowledge of shop or retail management. So, if you want to have your own bookstore, you need to study retail management. You can attend a special course which is usually provided by economic schools or if you are not interested in going to campus anymore, you just buy a book about retail management and begin your long journey to be an entrepreneur in book business.
Besides learning the retail management, you need to be a manageable person. You need to manage yourself. Bookstore business is a serious business. It can be a complicated enterprise that employ tens up to hundreds of employees that handle tens of thousands of book titles. If you can manage yourself based on time management and result oriented target then you are most probably right in choosing bookselling business as your lifelong career. Even you are a person who likes reading, you might not be a right person for running a bookstore. Bookstore is a business. It involves a lot of activities from analyzing the needs of customers for books to order them from suppliers and to arrange them on the display bookshelves.
You don't have to be a computer programmer when you build the database of your bookstore. This can be done easily by using special retail software which combines such functions as inventory control and point of sales. Yet you need to know how to use such software so that you can use it to run or operate the bookstore smoothly. Database software plays vital role in the success or failure of your bookstore. Bad database system means bad management. So, study carefully the retail software that is suitable to your bookstore and run it according to a good retail management principles.
In addition to adequate knowledge in computer database that is related to bookselling business, a bookstore owner needs to be a good manager. Someone who can manage other people towards a common goal which is to created profit, develop or enlarge the business and improve the welfare of all the employees. Another goal is participating in the society as provider of information and knowledge that is valueable in improving the quality of education and the standard of living of the community where your bookstore is located.
If your educational background is law, or engineering, you are eligible to enter bookstore business as long as you are willing to study this trade. by Charles Roring

Monday, September 13, 2010

Recommended Walking Space Between Bookshelves

This is often asked by bookstore owners or architects who are designing a bookshop. I have explained this matter several times. But to make it clear again I will say that the space or distance between bookshelves ranges from 1.5 meters for small bookstore to 2.5 meters for large bookstore. In my bookstore I choose the smallest one which is 1.5 m because I don't have much space left after the whole floor area has been filled with bookshelves, tables, chair and books.
Please, provide larger space, at least two meters at the entrance and exit doors so that your customers won't experience bottle neck. You know what I mean? Fill an empty bottle with water and turn it to pour it out again. See what happens? The water will slow along the small tunnel leading to the mouth of the bottle. So, if the entrance and exit space doors in your bookstore have small spaces, your customers will not be comfortable with it. If your bookstore has only one door, you need to ensure that there are no objects in front of it that could blockade the flow of the customers moving in and out of the bookshop. The first bookshelves that they see should be the newly arrived books. It does not always have to be a bookshelf. It can be a table where new books are displayed on it.
Also read: Standard Space Between Bookshelves

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to make my bookstore different

The above title is a simple question but bookstore owners have to answer it through actions - not spoken words. Well, running a successful bookstore business entails a lot of works. Whether your retail business is online or brick and mortar or even the combination of them, you need to continuously improve your service. Try to promote your bookstore to every potential customer. How? Print brochures containing newly arrived books and give them away to people who come to your bookstore. Send them to your friends and colleagues. Don't be shy to introduce your book selling business to everybody you meet every day.
Quality of the books show the quality of your bookstore
If you want people to come to your bookstore, you need to sell books that they really need. Analyze the demographic background of your town or city. How many elementary schools are there? How many high schools? Is there university in your town? What are the study programs available. Supply the books that are suitable for the educational needs of the town dwellers
Clean your bookstore every day
If you receive tens of people every day in your bookstore, don't forget to sweep the floor of your bookstore regularly. I run a home based bookstore and I know that cleanliness is very important. I sweep the floor at least twice a day. Don't forget that it is not only the floor that you need to clean, the parking lot has to be cleaned too. The walls of the bookstore and fence have to be free of graffiti. If you see any bad words on the walls clean them. Repaint the walls and the fence of your bookstore so that they look brighter and more attractive.
Indoor lighting
Small words in the books are difficult to be read by older people. Provide good lighting so in your bookstore so that they will be able to browse and choose the books that they want. The lamps that you install in your bookstore have to be bright enough to enable customer read the books well before deciding to buy them. Bright lamps should be the energy efficient ones so that you will not be burdened by monthly high electricity bill.
Rearrange books in the bookshelves
I have explained this matter several times but I will emphasize again here that the books that you put on the shelves should be neatly arranged according to their respective categories. Books for health must not be mixed with books about computer. And books about religion should not be mixed with books under the category of business and entrepreneurship.
Look carefully at the flow of people moving around your bookstore. If they are clogged in a certain corner, try to rearrange the layout of the bookstore so that it will be easier for them to go through between the bookshelves.  Well, these are my tips for to day. Next time I will write more about how to run a successful bookselling business.
Also read: Bookstore management principles

Monday, September 6, 2010

Manage a bookstore

Managing a bookstore is similar to managing a retail business. It should be done on the principles of selling books as products to customers that are needed by them. Every book is unique. Even a slight difference in a word of the title of the book can mean a big difference in the whole content of the book. So, if you go to a bookshelf and find two books with such titles as Managing a bookstore and the Management of Bookstore, you will see that the contents of them are totally different in their presentations. So, selling books is not the same as selling food or soap. If you are run out of a bathing soap, you can go to a supermarket and buy soap. If you don't find the brand that you like, you can buy another brand easily. You cannot two the same easily when you want to buy a book. Even if you find two books with the same title but different authors, you know that the contents are different.
So, the task that the manager of a bookstore and his staff must do is to deliver the books that the customer need accurately. I have some experience in meeting the demand of our book lovers. Here are some points of bookstore management principles that are related to daily business operation:
Provide a wish list or order listIt is a simple form. In the form, customers and fill in the titles, authors, publishers, the name and cell phone numbers if the want to order the books that they are looking for. If the books are expensive, we will request advanced payment from them. Every week we use he wish list or the order list as our order list to our book supplier in Java. We order the books exactly as what our customers had written in the table. So, when the books arrive, we just have to send text messages to them. They will come to pick up the books which they order in the afternoon or in the evening. By applying this method, we have managed to raise our monthly selling to between 200 and 300 percent since 2007.
Clean your bookshelves regularlyPeople come to my bookstore to find books. It means that their main focus of attention is books that are put on the bookshelves. The total surface of the bookshelves layout is large. It needs to be cleaned regularly. When the surfaces of the books are clean and free from dust, they will be more attractive to customers. Don't forget to rearrange the books according to such categories as business, computer, health, novels, religion, agriculture and etc. The cleaning of the books should be done by using soft dry cloth. You must not clean them using wet or damp cloth except if they are covered with plastic film.
Cleanliness of the bookshop as a whole
Everyone likes cleanliness. If you go to a bookstore whose floor and windows are full of sand and dust, you will not be interested in exploring the books that are displayed on the shelves. Sweep the floor and than mop it. Sweeping should be carried out at least twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. The front yard of the bookstore has to be cleaned from garbage especially the plastic cups and bottles. Bookshelf design has to be simple to allow for fast cleaning of the bookshelves and the books.
Hospitality of the staff
At this time every retail businesses should consider themselves as service business. When you sell books you serve people. Be kind, helpful and professional. Your body and clothing have to be cleaned before you stand next to the cashier computer screen or bookshelves. Selling books is not easy, you need to have some knowledge about books.
Lay out of the bookstore
If you only run a small bookstore, you only need to categorize your books similar to the way librarians categorize books in the library. For me, I add a small table near the entrance door where customers can see the newly arrived books. If your bookstore is large, please, separate the school or office supplies from the floor of the books.
POS - Point of Sale
Every retailer knows how important this software is in supporting the operation of their business. A good POS software for a bookshop must have features where bookstore owner can fill in the title, the author and the publisher of the books in separate columns of the inventory entry form.
Well, there are still more aspects of bookstore management that I can explain it here but I think I will continue it next time in my other blog post. Thank you - Charles Roring

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bookstore management principles

What are things to be considered while managing a bookstore? The following explanation is based on my personal experience in running the Xavier bookstore. Managing a bookstore entails various retail business aspects. Similar to other business entities, a bookstore has to be managed on the following principles:
Serve a wide range of customers
Every person needs different categories or titles of books. The books that a bookstore has to provide should meet the demand of the customers. Depending on the educational background of the customers, the manager of staff of the bookstore must make a survey to access the books which customers look for the most. The survey can easily be done by providing a wish list where unavailable books can be written down by the customers so that the next month these books will be arrived or ordered from the supplier. Book owner needs to obtain the books which his customers need in order to meet their demand.
Buy less Sell More
Every business has to make profit in order to cover or pay the expenses spent during the operation of the business and increase or develop the business to create growth to the bookstore
Competitive Price
Selling books is not an easy thing to do. It is not as easy as selling everyday merchandise such as foods and drinks. In addition, the price of the books have to be determined based on the purchasing power of the customers to that they still can buy books after their basic needs have been fulfilled. The profit margins should not be higher than the ones that is applied by other bookstore in the same town or city. If the books that you sell is more expensive than your competitor, people will not come to buy books from you. 
Bookshelves may look similar to shelves that are used by supermarket. But in general the shelves in the bookstore are designed to be in inclined position, some 45 to 60 degrees. This is to avoid the buckling of the books. Bad design bookshelves will buckle the books. Buckled books will not be attractive to customers.
Book Categories
Similar to displaying merchandise in supermarket, the arrangement of books in a bookstore should be based on such categories as school textbooks, children, computer, religion, agriculture, animal husbandry, fishery, forestry, management (accounting, salesmanship, retail, entrepreneurship, finance, banking system), governmental systems, politics, and law, engineering (architecture, civil, mechanical, mining), health, psychology, and etc. The layout of a bookstore must be arranged according to the categories that are applied in the bookstore to help customers find the titles of the books easily. Standard space between bookshelves should be wide enough to allow two people to pass by each other, 1.75 meter up to 2.5 meters should be wide enough for enabling customers move around between the bookshelves without colliding with one another or with the bookshelves. 
Promotion of the bookstore
Self-printed brochures are the cheapest way to promote the bookstore. Inside the bookstore, the staff write or type the synopsis of newly arrived books with small inset photograph of the book on the left side of the page.  Other promotional tools such as banners and mass media advertisement should be carefully considered before executed in order to avoid unnecessary spending that might not be suitable for small business bookstore.
Online bookshop
Today's technology enables bookstore owners to sell their merchandise to overseas customers. The shopping cart technology is now available on the internet and is mostly provided by webhosting company in, for example, a webhosting package, such as fantastico. ZenCart and OS Commerce are examples of free open source shopping cart software which can be used by bookstore owners when they want to expand their business through online outlet.
There are still many things to consider and I will write more about them in my later posts. Thank you. Charles Roring - contact email peace4wp@gmail.com or lroring@yahoo.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Standard Space Betweeen Bookshelves in a Retail Stores

Every bookstore must have bookshelves to display books. Bookshelves are arranged in rows to enable visitors browse the books based on the categories and titles that they are looking for. When a bookstore is crowded by book lovers, the space between the bookshelves have to be wide enough for at least two people moving in opposite direction without colliding each other and without hitting the books. Therefore, there has to be a standard width to allow book lovers to walk around inside the bookstore. From my personal experience 1 meter is a reasonable distance for home based bookstore with only small room whereas 2 meters are recommended for large bookstore. Bookshelves can be manufactured from wood, metal, or plastic. Metal bookshelves do not need a lot of space when installed leaving enough space for people to walk around.
As an owner of a home based bookstore, I give one meter space between the bookshelves to provide an area for book lovers to stand between them and read the information at the front and back covers of each book. Actually 1 meter is too narrow for adults but they are adequate for home based bookstore because the bookshelves are short. In addition, most of the visitors in my bookstore during the busy time (between 9 a.m. - 1.30 p.m. are elementary school children. How many bookshelves do I need in my bookstore?
In countries where the average body size is bigger than Asia, the standard space will be 1.5 meters for home based bookstore. I cannot give accurate assessment to this because I have never visited any foreign countries. So, 2 meters are good because it provides enough room for 2 people facing the respective bookshelves while one is walking a long the aisle. In other words, the space between the bookshelves is enough to accommodate three people standing in different poses - 2 facing the books while another is walking. That's my personal recommendation. If your store is not a bookstore, you will need to see the design of the shelves and their standard dimensions from Data Architect, a very good book - written by Ernst Neufert. In this book, Neufert recommend 120 cm as the standard space
Also read: How to manage a bookstore

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Standard Operational Procedure for Cleaning Dusty Bookshelves in a Bookstore

Regular cleaning of bookshelves is an important part of managing a bookstore. Dusty bookshelves will look dirty and make the books placed on them dirty. When book lovers stand in front of dirty bookshelves, they will not be interested in exploring every shelf to find the books that they want to read. They might pick up one or two books but when they find out that the surface of the book's cover is dirty with dust, they will put it back on the shelf again and walk out of the bookstore. To prevent it from happening to my bookstore, I regularly clean the bookshelves. Cleaning bookshelves may look like a trivial thing to do but it is a regular activities that bookstore owner needs to do every day, particularly it the shop is located near a busy street. Bookstores that are located in tropical region cannot keep their windows shut due to high temperature and high humidity. Windows and doors have to be left opened during work hours to ensure smooth flow of air in and out of the bookstore building. With continuous air circulation in the bookstore, thin layers of dust form on all of the surface of the bookshelves, tile floor and window glasses. Here are the standard procedure that I compose based on my personal experience in cleaning my bookshelves from dust.
  • First, remove the books from the shelf that we are going to clean. Starting from the top shelf. Usually, the books, are taken one by one and put on the lower shelf without changing their sequential order.
  • Second step, use a wet or damp cloth and wipe the surface of the bookshelf. After the first wipe, wash the cloth and wring it out again for doing the second wipe. When the whole flat surface of the shelf has been cleaned, the next cleaning is the corner of the bookshelf or the smaller areas where wiping is a little more difficult.
  • Third, leave the shelf to dry for around three to five minutes. After that clean the remaining dust or small hair still left on the surface of the bookshelf using a duster.
  • Fourth, after the bookshelf has been cleaned, return the books to their original places or sequential order. 
A clean bookshelf will look more attractive and be more appealing to book lovers. Clean your bookshelves regularly and arrange your books neatly to increase the revenue of your bookstore in no time.

Friday, June 4, 2010

How many shelves do I need for my bookstore?

The number of shelves that you need for your bookstore depends on the number of books and the categories which you want to provide. When you place the books on the shelves the front cover or face of the books have to be visible to enable the customers see the title of the books.
When managing a bookstore, bookshelves are arranged in rows according to the categories. For instance, the categories of management, accounting, and economics should be grouped in adjacent shelves whereas the book categories of law and politics should be placed side by side. It is important to buy bookshelves that will support or bear the whole surface of the back cover of the books to avoid the books to be buckled. Bookshelf design is an important criteria when you want to buy them.
Bookshelves manufacturer usually provide their products that are made of wood, aluminum or plastic. Wooden bookshelves are good but they need more spaces. Aluminum bookshelves are light but they should be painted white, or gray or other soft colors.
As the owner of a bookstore, I often rotate the placement of the books in order to create new shopping environment for the customers. Sometimes products other than books are offered in my bookstore but they should be relevant with the core business of the bookstore. Products such as school supplies and office supplies are still relevant. It is weird if you put groceries in the bookstore isn't it? by Charles Roring

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book categories in Xavier bookstore

Xavier bookstore sell books about Christianity but we also sell books on such categories as computer, university textbooks, popular health, business, management, law and politics. We also provide books in limited number for other religion particularly on titles that encourage inter-faith dialogue or discourse on more contemporary issues such as cultural tradition, women, and medical matters. Our customers are from elementary school up to university students and from farmers to businessmen.
In addition to selling books, we provide art supplies and school supplies. Some office supply merchandise are also being offered in Xavier bookstore. To support local artists, the walls of the Xavier bookstore have been decorated with drawings created by Papuan artists.
Xavier bookstore of Manokwari does not have any chain connection with other bookstore around the world that also use Xavier as their name. We might share the same spirit and mission from Saint Francis Xavier but we have separate management system. Managing a bookstore is similar to managing a retail enterprise. We do our best to meet the various demand of our customers by providing books that are high in quality yet affordable in price. For us price should be affordable but the cleanliness and neatness of a bookstore of the bookstore are two important factors in creating a comfortable environment for book lovers to get a good shopping experience in Xavier bookstore.
As a retail store that provides books to general public in Manokwari city, we do face competition which we see as opportunities to improve our service and to provide books that are more varied in titles and numbers.
To serve people from other islands of the country, we provide an online bookshop which internet users can visit at http://xavierbook.wordpress.com. The presentation of the bookstore is given in a blog format to enable visitors to browse and search for titles that they are looking for. We haven't provided the e-commerce shopping cart solution because we know that in Indonesia, online transaction using credit card is still difficult to be conducted. Most online bookstores serve their customers through direct bank transfer.
We may adapt to market demand in the future if the platform for a secure credit card transaction has been provided in Indonesia by launching an e-commerce shopping cart technology for our online bookshop.
For the present time, all online book orders are still processed via email, sms and bank transfer. by Charles Roring

Monday, May 31, 2010

How to manage a bookstore

Managing a bookstore is similar to managing any retail businesses. You are planning to run a bookstore, you need to know the basics of bookstore management and book business as a whole.
Categories - Books in a bookstore are categorized according to such topics as engineering, computer, agriculture, politics, law, medicine, religion, business and etc.  So books that have titles that can be grouped into one category should be placed in a bookshelves that reflects the right category for them.
Bookshelves layout in a bookstoreSimilar to supermarket, books as the main merchandise will be displayed on bookshelves. Every bookshelves needs to have a need to help visitors identify the category of books that are being displayed on the bookshelves. In addition, the bookshelf design should be made to receive all the surface of the books' cover without buckling them. Often we find people read the books along the aisle between the bookshelves. The distance between bookshelves should be at least 1 meter to allow to people stand between them without causing the books to fall down to the floor.
Point of Sales - Every bookstore will need a good POS software to help with the selling of the books. By having a good POS application, you will be able to know the number of books that have been sold during the day and the amount of money that you can get. In addtion, the POS will reduce the stock of books in the database inventory so that managers of the bookstore can be informed about the quantity of books.
The outside appearance of the bookstore - This is important because it can attract people to enter. Paint the bookstre in a brighter color with name plank that can be read by pedestrians. Sometimes major bookstores put newly arrived or best selling books on the front windows.
Promotion - Promoting books is not the same as promoting food or kitchen equipment. Books are unique. Every book has different author and different content. If you only operate a small bookstore and do not have enough money to put an advertisement in the local radio or newspaper, you can print a brochure to promote your bookstore. If you have enough budget, you can conduct a seminar by inviting a famous writer to discuss a book that you believe will be needed by people in your town. The author of the books will be very happy to come to your bookstore and become the keynote speaker.
Profit margin of the books - Bookshop owner needs profit in order to pay the bills and to develop the business. From my personal experience, the profit margin that I charge to most of the books is between 25 to 30%. It is a net profit. It means that if I have to take into account the cost of shipping from publishers, the interest rate from the bank and cost of the utilities, then the margin that I charge on the merchandise can reach between 50 to 70%. Before applying a profit margin, you have to be very careful in calculating all the operational cost of the books. The final price must not become a heavy burden. Books have to be affordable so that people can buy them regularly.
So, 25 percent net profit should be adequate for your bookstore business.
Other merchandise - If you want to add other merchandise to your bookstore, you should consider the products that are still relevant with the core of your business which is selling books. As a bookstore owner, I would recommend school supplies such as pencils, pens, note books, rulers, bags, eraser and other things that are related to schools. Big bookstores add office supplies in their merchandise and electronic products such as computer, digital camera and music instruments. Art supplies can also be added into the merchandise of your bookstore but all of them have to be sold in separate section. The merchandise can be displayed on the same floor but they should have separate sections so that they will not be mixed with books. by Charles Roring
Also read:
Managing a home based bookstore
Factors to consider in bookstore business
Promoting your bookstore

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Managing a bookstore

Bookstore management is similar to retail management in all of its general principles. In my previous article, I explained a little bit about Managing Home Based Bookstore. Now I am discussing a broader topic Managing A Bookstore. So, what are the differences between these two titles. Well, bookstore can be a home based, non-home based for instance the one that is located in a mall or an independent building in a strategic location on a busy street. The latest trend that is increasingly popular is online bookshop. With three types of bookstores, there will be three kinds of management to make these businesses successful. First I will deal with home based one.
Managing a Home Based Bookstore
Because I have discussed this topic in my previous article, I will make my explanation as briefly but as clear as possible. Home based bookstore in its size usually is a small, mom and pop store that is run from a garage. I personally manage my home based Xavier bookstore from my living room. Because it is a small bookshop, I give more attention in the book market that are really needed by my customers. I carefully make research on the what book categories that university students in my home town Manokwari are looking for. Because the university has study programs that are related to agriculture and forestry, many of my books are about these topics. In addition, the percentage of Christian population in this town is high, books about Christianity is the highest in monthly selling.
To minimize the cost, I don't hire any employees. I use two computers to help me with Point of Sales and Online Bookstore management. Brick and mortar bookshop that is run from home can compete in the national and international level through online store. I will discuss more about it in my third point. Last year, I got 400 million rupiahs or around 40,000 US dollars from this home based bookstore business. It is very profitable business if we are serious in running it. So, if you are now considering of running a home based bookstore, do it now. You have to be smart in determining the profit margin you will charge to your books without losing your competitive position.
Managing an Enterprise Class Bookstore
If you have large amount of capital or if you can tap capitals from banks, your friends, parents, and other business partners, you can set up a big bookstore that is located in an independent building at a strategic location in your town or city. Managing such a big bookstore cannot be done  alone. Besides you need more workers, you will have to be very professional manager. The bigger the bookstore, the more complicated its management will be. Employees will work in two or three shifts. You also need to think about gaining enough profit to be shared with investors at the end of a business year. In addition, the overhead cost such as electricity, and other utilities can be high. If you get substantial amount of loan from a bank, you have the obligation to pay it back. Managing a bookstore in this size is a serious thing. You cannot just close it if you want to visit your friends in other city. Personally, I have never experienced managing an enterprise class bookstore with around 30 employees. With the rapid growing of my home based bookstore, I will someday have to hire more workers and move my bookstore to a building or a mall where the number of visitors is higher and the potential of profit earnings is better. The lay out of bookshelves and the bookshelf design play an important role in ensuring smooth flow of people moving around your bookstore.
Managing an Online Bookstore
Talking about online bookstore, this type of bookshop is now getting popular among students because they can get books that they are looking even from the other side of the world. Online bookstores now in tight competition with brick and mortar bookstores. In order to enter international market, brick and mortar bookstores (including home based bookshops) are now launching their own online bookstores.
To open an online bookshop, you need an internet connection, and a little investment on webhosting. Today, e-commerce shopping cart software such as OS Commerce, VPASP and ZenCart can be used to set up an online retail stores including a bookstore. The management of bookstore using such shopping carts is relatively easy. You don't even need to know html code although some knowledge about database management will be helpful. Overall, all you need to think about is how to categorize your books using that e-commerce software and how to handle the shipment of the books if there are customers ordering your merchandise from other countries.
If you don't know how to operate e-commerce shopping cart for your online bookstore, you can still have your own online bookshop by registering yourself as an Amazon Associate. After becoming a member, you can write a review about the book that you used to read and add book (the code is provided directly by the Amazon.com) into your blog post. The best and the easiest way to do this is by using blogger.com. The easiest and the fastest blogging platform that is provided by Google.
There are still many factors to consider in bookstore business that you need to know in order to successfully make profit from your bookstore. I will explain about them one by one later in my other blog posts. So, do not hesitate to regularly visit this blog sometime in the near future. by Charles Roring

Friday, May 28, 2010

Managing Home Based Bookstore

If you are interested in opening a home based bookstore then you will need to know a number of factors to consider in bookstore business that are related to management. Because selling books is part of retail business, the general principals of running a retail store also apply in running a home based bookshop.
Personally, I have been running my home based Xavier bookstore since December 2006. It was hard for the first time because I had never worked in a bookstore. I had to improve my skills in running my home based business through a lot of trials and errors. Now, the business has been very good and I got a lot of money from it. It is my main stream of income besides Google Adsense.
Okay, if you are really serious in having your own home based bookstore, here are some of the tips that you need to know before opening a bookstore:
  1. Make survey on book needs - See the routes of public transportation that pass by your house. They show the types of people/ passengers in the buses that pass by your house every day. Are they office workers, high school students, or university students, or farmers? If you open your bookstore, they will most likely stop their buses and enter your bookstore. So, provide books that are suitable to their needs.
  2. Make survey of people within the radius of 300 meters around your house - People who live within the radius of 300 meters from residence will visit your home based bookstore. They will go to your bookshop on foot. Identify who they are, what professions they are, and what levels of education they have. Provide books that they need
  3. If there is a big university, try to find information about the study programs that this university has and the number of students. If possible, you can get the synopsis of each of the study program. This is an important information which you need to get so that you can accurately provide books that the students and the lecturers really need.
  4. Promotion - Because your house might be located not located at a main street, you will need to inform people in your town about its existence. If you have money, you can put an advertisement on local newspaper, radio, or if possible attach banners at main streets in your town or city. If you need an idea of bookstore promotion, please read my story How I promote my bookstore.
  5. Your home based bookstore needs a name. Give a good name that really reflects the spirit of your business. Paint the name on a big plank and display it in front of the bookstore.
  6. Book categories. When you open your bookstore, you need to arrange the books according to a number of categories such as agriculture, engineering, computers and IT, health and medicines, religion, fiction, business, law and politics, and school textbooks. All those books have to be arranged on bookshelves that have been well designed and constructed. A good bookshelf design will not buckle the books. The bookshelves layout should be arranged to allow smooth flow of book lovers moving inside your bookstore.
  7. Computer and software application - To help you with the selling of your books, you will definitely need a computer that is installed with such applications as Microsoft Access, Excel, Word and if possible special POS (Point of Sales) which has been designed for a retail bookshop.
  8. Cleanliness - Keep you bookstore as clean (both indoor and outdoor) and as comfortable as possible. You will need to plant flowers in front of the bookstore.
  9. Be ready to work long hours.
  10. Online bookshop - Study the possibilities of opening an online bookstore using e-commerce shopping cart software such as VPASP, ZenCart, OS Commerce and etc. If you can open an online bookstore, there is a big possibility for it to become bigger than your home based bookstore. by Charles Roring 
Also read: How to handle children in your bookstore

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Managing Xavier bookstore on case by case basis

    Here in Xavier bookstore we apply simple method in managing our bookstore. We have reached between 30 million to 53 million rupiahs in monthly sales which is quite high for a small bookstore in Indonesia. To help us with the administration works, we use microsoft office programs such as Excel 2007 and Point of Sales software that is operated using Microsoft Access 2007. This Simple Biz Point of Sales (POS) is produced by a software company in Bali for small retailers. The management of the bookstore is based on these two important softwares but we also print daily sales records to back up our inventory and sales data.
    For handling inquiry from customers, we provide a form where they can fill in the titles, the authors and the publishers of the books which they are looking for. We will ask our suppliers in Java whether the books that our customers have asked for  are available or not.

    How much is the profit margin that we charge on each book that we sell?
    Well, we have a cooperation with a discount bookstore in Surabaya where we order most of our books. The bookstore gives us 15% to 30% discounts depending on each title of the books that we buy from them. There are books that are sold by our supplier without any discounts. All these books need to be shipped to Xavier bookstore that is located in Manokwari city of Papua. The shipping cost is around 10% of the total cost of the books. It means that when they arrive in our bookstore, we need to mark up the price of the books up to 30% to 40% to cover for the telecommunication cost, shipping cost, and loan interest which the bank charges to us.
    Well, there is no standard manual for managing a bookstore that we follow. We develop and manage our bookstore on case by case basis. We can standardize it later but at the moment, we have not written any standards for our Xavier bookstore.
    Our efforts to increase sales - Because our Xavier bookstore is only a small bookstore in town, we don't spend a lot of money on advertisement on newspaper and radio. We emphasize our attention on distributing new book info in the form of brochures where people can get easily. The brochures are printed using Canon inject printer Pixma ip 1200 and then placed in several places in this town.

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