Waterstones Tottenham Court Road

Waterstones Tottenham Court Road

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There have always been die-hard fans of printed books who look forward to the feeling you get when you go into a book store. But with the rise of digital books and e-readers the traditional book store was under threat. We have seen many smaller independent book stores lose the battle with the online market.

Well known high street brand Waterstones, on the other hand, have invested in their infrastructure to offer more than that of just a bookstore. With today's increasingly savvy and demanding customer a store has to be more than a store in order to get customers through the door.  The 7000 sq ft Tottenham Court Road store was refurbished last December and spans an impressive three floors.  It isn't the size of the offering that has improved profitability though, more the hospitality aspect of the layout.

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The store now includes two coffee shops, a cocktail bar and a pop up cinema. The basement features a large open space specifically designed to accommodate readings and author events. Seating on the top floor includes sofas in a lounge environment whereas the free wifi and desk style tables allow visitors to enjoy the coffee shop as a temporary work-space.  While visiting I witnessed several workers utilising the quiet and comfortable space away from the bustling street above.

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The mixture of large and small tables caters for groups and events as well as the lone visitor. In terms of design, the mis-match of old and new furniture styles is representative of the eclectic nature of a bookstore. The old oppressive black furniture and cumbersome tables has been replaced by a bright natural wood finish enabling the books to stand out.

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Ample space enables a fluid customer flow even when visitors are loitering, book in hand. Smaller tables and chairs are dotted around for those who wish to take a seat or use the wifi while reading a book synopsis. The consumer goal of the space is not obvious as all these details result in a place people can come and enjoy. It is proving a successful tactic for the brand.

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In summary: Online e-book sales have forced Waterstones to re-think their strategy resulting in a more diverse product offering. A large section of games, gifts and stationery are positioned in a prime location and visible upon entry to the store. Just as HMV diversified to offer more than just CD's and DVD's, Waterstones have an adaptable offering that targets a wider demographic, increases social relevance and brings in new customers through events and hospitality.