Zondervan recently introduced Symtio, a proprietary digital merchandising system designed to respond to the changing needs of consumers and help CBA retailers compete in the fast-growing digital world.
Zondervan President and CEO Moe Girkins introduced Symtio before an audience of several hundred CBA retailers at the International Christian Retailer Show in Orlando, Fla., the annual trade show for the industry.
“We live in a digital world and shopping preferences are changing as many consumers now want to buy their books the way they buy their music,” said Girkins. “The question has been: how do we satisfy everyone? How do we meet consumers’ needs by offering our content in a digital format without turning our backs on the CBA? We believe Symtio is the answer.”
Symtio is the publishing industry’s first patented digital merchandising solution for retail, allowing consumers to purchase digital content at a bricks-and-mortar store. Symtio functions the same way as downloading music online. Consumers purchase a merchandise card in store for a specific audio book or ebook title. They take the card home and go to www.symtio.com where they enter the code on the back of the card. The book immediately begins downloading in the format of their choice. Ebooks can be read on a computer, or an epaper device like the Sony Reader. Audio titles can also be used on a computer or transferred to CD or uploaded to an MP3 player.
“Symtio is going to do for the printed page what iTunes did for music, but will take it to the next level by combining the ease and simplicity of iTunes with a bricks-and-mortar retail experience that many consumers still desire,” said Moe Girkins, president and CEO of Zondervan.
Zondervan expects to have 100 titles available at launch, including several of their bestsellers, with more going digital shortly afterwards. Baker Publishing also plans to feature a number of Baker titles on the Symtio program at launch and Zondervan is currently talking with other publishers about coming on board.
“In addition to offering retailers a simple, low-tech entry into a high-tech format, Symtio is really changing the economics for the retailer as there are no significant inventory costs, they get the inventory up front but are only billed once a purchased card is activated,” said Girkins. “It allows retailers to enter and compete in the digital space with no technology investment. All they need is a point-of-sale system.”
Beta testing for Symtio will begin in stores immediately following ICRS, with the official launch of the program coming this Fall.