By Aimee Chanthadavong

Collins Booksellers has acquired Seek Media, an online book retail company that also provides website hosting arrangements and order fulfilment services for third party book retailers and affiliates.

Collins Booksellers CEO Daniel Jordan said Seek Media will help leverage the company’s multi-channel retail business.

“We see it as being critical. It’s important that we can provide all options to our customers – whether they want to come in store, shop online, collect the books in-store or get it delivered – whatever their preferences are we want to be able to provide that,” he said.

“We’re seeing and experiencing an increase of people buying online but again our point of view is very much about integrating both online and offline channels and providing that choice and preference to customers to satisfy their different needs.”

In a first for franchise book retailing, Collins franchisees will benefit from a percentage revenue share of all online sales sold to customers within their assigned store territory. Other benefits extended to current and new franchisees include customer order fulfilment, digital format sales capability instore, digital marketing and integrated product searches by store online. Collins plan to launch a loyalty program in July 2011.

Jordan said no other franchisor in the book industry in Australia or internationally provides this benefit to their franchisees.

“The key reason is because we’re a company that owns all the franchises so strategically we’re making it all about benefiting the franchisees. It’s important to us that franchisees can share in the online activities,” he said.

“It also means franchisees will be able to take advantage of the online channel rather than feel threatened or cannibalised by it. It also improves Collins as a brand and it’s an additional service that we can provide to our franchisees.”

This acquisition represents the first of three stages of our business plan. Collins Booksellers will be announcing other initiatives in the coming months.

“At the moment the other key initiatives we’re rolling out in the coming months partly involves Seek Media and taking advantage of its e-commerce platform and the other part is not particularly linked to the online acquisition, which we will announce the next few months,” Jordan said.

When asked whether Collins will be looking at other acquisitions, Jordan said they is exploring options of possible investments into REDgroup Retail.

“We are certainly aware of potential business opportunities and are assessing our options.”