2010. The decreasing book market, pushed by the boom of the ebooks and the global financial crisis was rapidly deteriorating the business revenue.
1 – The Challenge
The project started as a simple redesign of the online image of the company, updating it with the work previosly done offline. The process uncovered multiple communication strategy issues within the company:
- Corporative culture was not shared by all the stakeholders. The hierarchical structure, with the Head-Office in one side, and the different branches below it made it very difficult to communicate values, mission and vision.
- Geographical segregation in between all the branches resulted in different “feudos”, where each shop applied directives as they saw fit, not resulting in a cohesive image.
To make it worse, the systems developed to maintain the web and online store were completely inefficient. The technologies were extremely difficult to use, and information architecture chaotic.
2 – The Approach
We had to put in the spotlight our best asset: our prescriptors. Throught internal Q&A and interviews with each branch manager, we came to the conclusion that the most valued advantage across all shops, the lowest common denominator, was the recommendation from our booksellers. The help from our employees against a giant like Amazon was the key.
Also, what could be seen as a weak point, the costs derived from keeping such a network of sale points, was turned into an advantage thanks to the presence of the prescriptors.
Furthermore, the small size of the shops, and the different localizations, made them perfect examples of local business, part of the community, knowing perfectly their target customers. In front of the price war started by online behemots, we could offer a completely bespoke and human experience. And our customers valued that positively.
Hence, it was clear that we needed to strongly remark each shop identity, as an indispensable part of the company, but with its own individuality.
Once we had this approach in mind, it became clear that the best way would be to create an online store, as a part of an omnichannel strategy. A single shopping experience, conducted through multiple channels.
3 – The Product
We developed three key products that would improve the classic brick and mortar experience:
Online communication through a newsletter: Each shop would have their own list, to offer the most customized information possible. This would generate a new channel.
Mini-site for each shop: To keep each shop identity, and to make easy for their customers to find useful information about their shop. Just contact info and agenda.
- Online Store: new channel, treated as any other physical store inside the company hierarchy:
- Its own newsletter
- Exclusive offers
However, the online store would have a particular element: in the header, visible through all the site, there would be ever-present links to all the physical shops mini-sites. Reinforcing the omnichannel strategy. This way, you could browse the catalog online, but finish your purchase in one of the shops.
Also, to facilitate relations in between channels, a real-time messaging system was developed, so any customer that entered the online store, could ask questions to our prescriptors, the same way that you could do in the physical shop.