Definition of crowdsourcing:
The practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or consultants.
Let's not use the opinions of the people that work there everyday. This is a side step to communicating with your customers. Why? Because Barnes & Noble cut their staff too deeply back in late February. You can't interact with any one customer for too long because they don't have the staff any more. "Here, buy this book. Get the hell out." That is where bookselling customer service is going these days.
Crowdsourcing is toxic to the retail consulting industry as well. The observations of a consumer in her pajamas, shopping on the internet is vastly different then the frequent customer survey that comes into the store every couple of days to test the feel of community in each store. Faith Popcorn was right: we did "cocoon." But she added to that premonition: The retail "butterfly effect" after the cocooning.
As a business, it is important to look at the “big picture” and make sure your customers are happy. Really analyse the guest/customer experience. Think like a customer, talk with your customers, or hire a consulting firm that can.
Barnes & Noble, has never been able to reconcile their sales per square ft. They took seating out of the bookstores to direct customers to their cafes, to fill those empty seats. They still sell "discount cards" as a lazy way to increase their gross profit margin per transaction. They still have gifts and cards to increase items per transaction, but those categories have been decimated by online ordering and email. These are all ideas from the late 1980s.
What B&N has changed for the negative, is their customer service levels. They have fewer associates on the floor. The customer service desk in their stores is usually empty of employees. They just laid off over 1800 people with over 5,000 years of bookselling experience. Is that customer or employee centric? Hopefully, all those smart people B&N let go will open bookstores that have the right customer service to employee ratio needed to be profitable. Because bookselling is really all about positive human interaction. Everyone should visit Tattered Cover in Denver -- you will see what I mean about great service.