Indigo Tech is a new initiative by Chapters Bookstore and will put a heavy emphasis on tablets, e-readers and accessories all across Canada. Indigo Books briefly mentioned this new program at their latest earnings call, but never really explained the logistics of it. Today, we have breaking news on exactly what customers can expect in the coming weeks.
If you have ever shopped at a Chapters bookstore in Canada before, you might be familiar with their existing kiosk booths. They are basically just a small table, with a number of Kobo e-readers and accessories. The Indigo Tech area is increasing dramatically, with larger stores having 200 square feet devoted to showcasing technology. Aside from their normal portfolio of gadgets, they are adding some new ones. We spoke to a representative from Chapters who stated they will carry the iPod Touch, iPad, iPad Mini, Jawbone, wireless speakers, Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, and Apple TV. They also formed new partnerships with Fitbit, Cookoo, Jambox and a number of other companies.
When you shop at Chapters stores and have stopped by the old style kiosk booths, the representatives are not often very knowledgeable. This is mainly due to not having dedicated tech staff and often have a revolving cadre of customer service reps giving advice. Indigo Tech areas will have specially trained staff and the larger locations will have four dedicated staff members whose sole job is to work on the tech area. These staff members undergo a minimum of ten hours of Apple Training at an official Apple retail store. This is mandated directly through Apple and was a prerequisite of being an authorized dealer. The larger locations are training an additional three people as backups.
Two locations in Ontario have already launched Indigo Tech areas and the main Vancouver flagship store is launching on August 28th. Chapters is working on the logistics of having forty stores up and running by the end of the year. Most of the tech areas are positioned right at the entrance of the store, in order to encourage people to look in the window and check it out.
Revamping forty stores is no small undertaking and involves a complete transformation of the retail spaces. The costs involved in training and hiring additional staff to man the booths and in renovating the spacees have been high. I find it surprising that Indigo/Chapters is Canada’s largest bookstore chain and yet are not doing more advertising in order to inform the general public about the new tech areas.