Ecommerce Success with The Guardian Bookshop (Magento)

The Guardian
31st Oct 2014
B2C - Brand Strategy
Content Strategy/Creation
Digital Full Service
Digital Strategy
E-commerce Strategy
Ecommerce Analytics
Ecommerce Platform Development
Ecomms Usability
Mobile Commerce
Mobile Strategy
Mobile Usability
Online Analytics/Measurables
Performance Marketing
Responsive Design
User Experience (UX)
Web Design
Web Development

The Brief

In the middle of 2014, the Guardian approached Lab to help them create a new online bookshop. 

The company that had previously fulfilled the Guardian Bookshop website suddenly decided to stop, meaning The Guardian and Lab had only three months to scope the project and design and develop the website, in order to be up and running and ready for the all-important Christmas sales season.

The Guardian was clear on their business objectives from the outset:

  • Boost sales and revenue
  • Increase average order value
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Reduce checkout abandonment

As well as the business objectives, our brief was to:

  • Create a new ecommerce website design
  • Integrate the site with Bertram’s, the fulfilment house, to automatically send and update orders and product information
  • Ensure all best practice ecommerce functionality is working
  • Ensure the website is responsive and works across tablets and mobiles
  • Allow Guardian site users to have control over content
  • Ensure the platform is compliant with privacy, PCI and other laws and regulations to minimise risk

Our Solution

To keep with The Guardian’s digital-first approach and to ensure a great user experience for their customers, we decided to build a new responsive website on the Magento ecommerce platform.

After a comprehensive specification phase, where we ensured all deliverables were captured and all parties agreed, our designers started working on creating a fresh look that fit perfectly within The Guardian’s brand guidelines, and would help achieve the Guardian Bookshop team’s objectives.

We pushed best sellers to the fore with a clearly visible  carousel, and we made books easy to find with an easy-to-use search function. We ensured each product had customer reviews and  recommendations to help visitors decide between books and promote sales. And we ensured that there was space for The Guardian team to promote their special offers.

The best sellers list was built to be dynamic, pulling the information from the database in real-time and ranking the books accordingly. With over 300,000 products in the catalogue and growing, we ensured that the product file that feeds the website is re-created every night, thereby ensuring the catalogue is always up-to-date. And we also made sure that the new website had a single-page checkout to make it quick and easy for customers to complete their purchase.

The Results

The new website launched in October 2014. Results over the first few months exceeded everyone’s expectations, and fully met The Guardian’s brief.

Within the first four months, year on year, the new website saw:

  • 81% uplift in online sales
  • 15% increase in average online order value 
  • 25% increase in overall conversion rate  
  • 98% increase in mobile conversion rate 
  • 50% decrease in checkout abandonment 

In terms of return on investment against budget, the increase in online revenue in the first four months paid for the website twice over.

Head of Guardian Books, Sara Montgomery, said, “Our ambition is to become one of the leading online independent book retailers in the UK, and the success of our new website has taken us one step closer to achieving that goal.”

Everyone is extremely happy with the results. Lab delivered a website within a very tight deadline that not only looks amazing, but performs really well, and has smashed targets. The Guardian Bookshop team won the internal Good to Great award as a result, and we have a very happy client.