It is not always right “Shut the Barne door after the noble horse has bolted.”

Have you heard about the idiom “shut the stable door after the horse has bolted”?


People usually use this phrase when explaining the situation which it is too late to take action to prevent something bad from happening, that the bad event has already happened and trying to stop something bad happening when it has already happened and the situation cannot be changed.

People often regret about what they did not do in the past and keep saying “Oh, I should have done it…”

In our life, tiny mistakes cause big problems like a butterfly effect.

On the other hand, Barnes and Noble, the largest retail book seller in the United States had a difficult time after making a wrong decision in the past when a new technology, the Internet, was introduced to the world. At the beginning, their reaction to the new trend was delayed and not suitable. As a result, Barnes and Noble faced decline in their business. They, however, overcame their delayed entry digital market trying to regain the leading position in the market.

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What happened to Barnes and Noble?

As information technology developed, online shopping industry had flourished all over the world.

Let us go back in time when the internet was just introduced to the world. After inventing internet, electronic commerce started being used. Amazon became a leader of the online shopping market. However, Barnes and Noble, one of the biggest corporations in the United States selling books did not recognize the most important time they could have broadened new business failed to meet the new shopping trends.

How did they overcome?

After experiencing business decline, they had tried to get over their business difficulty.

Barnes and Noble they made up the new strategies using SWOT analysis for the trends.

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SWOT is a tool invented in order to strategically approach the circumstance the corporation faces. It is designed to comprehend threats and opportunity in the certain market. It also plays a key role in using strength and complementing weakness to avoid and overcome the situation. SWOT analysis is made with important factors from external and internal environments of the corporation. In addition, it is widely used because of its practicality which enables companies to establish strategies using analysis of the situation that has already been conducted without additional complicated work.


The first step that has to be done for SWOT analysis is analyzing the market and consumers so that they can assess the opportunity factor and threat factors from their external and internal environment. The trend of market has dynamic structure, which is affected by 3 different factors, new technology, life-style, and the situation of society economy. Society-economic situation leaded trends in the 1990’s, whereas it is generally influenced by life-style and technology factors for the time being.

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As mentioned before, Barnes and Noble had to conceive new strategies to compete with Amazon. It traditionally was positioned in the lead of the offline market and its level of brand awareness among consumers was very high. In addition, to deal with the new trend by technology growth, they established e-book system, people can read books with their smart phones, tablet PCs and so on. They also tried to use the existing distribution infrastructure that they had and they have the largest chain of bookstores in U.S.


However, their online brand recognition and consumer database were not sufficient to compete with Amazon and other competitors. There was also a lack of knowledge of online business.  Most rivals have deeper pockets and fewer modes of competition. It also significantly costs associated with maintaining physical store and continued investment in digital business.


Despite of their weakness, there was opportunity from partnership with Microsoft. and increasing demand for offerings of digital content. it can also make a fortune in online business such as the possibility of strategical alliance with online based on experience of offline sales and vitalization of online shopping industry.


On the other hand, there were also some threat factors. For example, a lot of competitors already started their own online business and when Barnes and Noble began digital shopping business, which could cause price discounting by competitors and digital content technology was rapidly changing.

To sum up,

After appointing William Lynch as a C.E.O of Barnes and Noble in 2010, all of the company capability focused on E-Book. Even they are still the second biggest book seller online ,as a the second mover, their online business is still growing up through a range of business strategies. As a result, Barnes and Noble is still in the list of Fortune 500.




Copeland, C 2014, SWOT Analysis of Barnes and Novel, N/A, retrieved 14 January, <;

Fortune 2015, Barnes & Novel Stock Price, Financials and News, Time Inc, retrieved April 30, 2015, <;

McGovern, D 2009, Barnes & Noble Looks to Challenge Kindle’s e-Book Dominance, Compete, retrieved September 19, 2009,<;

Klara, R 2015, How Barnes and Noble Is Hitting Back Against Amazon, Adweek, Retrieved November 5, 2015, <; -No information about author, organization and retrieved date but very useful


Seungho Han



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