After two years, we revamped the look of our online bookstore, thedogearsbookshop.com. We decided to give it a more inviting appearance, one that encouraged customers to look what else we might have in store, and “linger” around a little. While we are, and will remain, primarily an online bookstore, focused on “books that you will not normally find elsewhere”, we also thought it would be nice to have other aligned products available for sale on this platform, products that catered to people with similar tastes as bibliophiles.
And so, we have 3 new sections, with at least one more section lined up for release. We now have vintage maps and fine art reproductions available for sale. In addition we have a small list of philately products available for sale, under what we have called “Hobbies and Collectibles“. Like the name suggests, there will be more options available in this category shortly. There will also be more maps and fine art reproductions to choose from and purchase. We decide to start with what we have rather than wait till we built a large catalog.
That decision – of whether to go with what we have, or wait for an opportune moment – is always a tough one to make. Do we get better at what we are offering before we decide to offer it? Or do we offer what we have and tweak our products and services based on the feedback received from our customers? I guess there will be many opinions on this, but we decided to go with the products we had in hand, rather than wait till we had a large catalogue.
Like many businesses, we expect our small business to be impacted too, by the pandemic and consequent lockdowns. We think that going forward, being cautious will come naturally to us, and so we must be prepared for a world that thinks twice about every decision we make. Having said that, this is a good time as any to hustle and look for other ways by which to serve customers. Ultimately, the customers will decide, but their feedback will be very important in determining how we proceed. We have chosen to respond to the pandemic challenge by offering our customers a larger range of products to choose from. Whether or not that was a good decision, only time will tell.
In the case of books itself, we will continue to focus on our strengths – a large set of children’s books, books from Goa, books in Konkani, and a curated selection of fiction and non-fiction for adults. We will offer titles that span across genres, and are difficult to come across. We think that reading is a habit that won’t go away anytime soon, especially when it can offer solace and escape in times like these. And we hope to make the best books available so people can read them, and enjoy every bit of that reading experience.
Our revamp happened during the time when Facebook launched Facebook shops. Given that this behemoth will jostle for space with Amazon to fight for a share of the consumer’s wallet in the eCommerce space, it is logical to question our decision to invest time and effort in developing our own online store. But we thought we must do that because it allows us to offer our products in a style that we are comfortable with – offer all information that the customer needs and allow her to decide whether to buy or not. We are ourselves uncomfortable with the gimmicks employed nowadays to push certain products, and our own store allows us to avoid those missteps. Plus we offer unique advantages, like being able to fulfil overseas orders.