Inside BookPal’s B2B Transformation

A unique platform for a unique business.

Since 2008, BookPal has changed the way organizations buy books. Based in Irvine, California, the company’s 15 employees deliver nearly a million books and custom journals to businesses and schools in all 50 states every year. Named a “company to watch” by Publishers Weekly in 2010, BookPal quickly became a major force in the bulk-bookselling industry. By 2013, they were included on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

However, Bookpal’s eCommerce platform could not keep up with their epic growth. They had become frustrated with Volusion’s lack of flexibility, and found they couldn’t customize the store to suit their unique business requirements. “We attempted to make a number of workarounds related to a tiered pricing model that Volusion could not support, which created a friction point in the purchase process,” explained Tony DiCostanzo, BookPal’s CEO. “But our clients did not understand the discount system or prices they were paying.” Volusion’s days were numbered, and in 2013, Bookpal re-platformed to Magento Commerce to take their eCommerce operations to the next level.

During three successful years with Magento, BookPal added a wholesale pricing calculator, eBook selling capabilities, and an innovative “Bookshelves” design, leading to double-digit growth in conversion and Average Order Value. By 2016 BookPal’s mobile traffic had risen to 40 percent of their total traffic. As they looked at creating a more robust mobile experience for customers to buy books on the move, they considered how to enhance their APIs and natively integrate B2B tools. Together with their technology partner, Accelerate Digital Agency, BookPal decided to move to Magento Commerce 2.

"We were really excited to be one of the first stores to adopt Magento Commerce 2. We love the platform’s ability to deliver a faster shopping experience for our customers with a simplified checkout process."

Tony DiCostanzo

President, Book-Pal.com

An endlessly customizable solution.

The BookPal and Accelerate teams got straight to work, adding the numerous functionalities on BookPal’s wishlist. They enabled tiered pricing, guest checkout, and flexible payment terms for customers paying by PayPal, AmazonPay, Purchase Orders, or Automated Clearing House (ACH) wire.

BookPal added Nextopia as a third-party search extension, providing a more robust searching platform for their 3 million SKU catalog, making it easier for customers to discover bestsellers from Malcolm Gladwell or Roald Dahl. “We wanted to make it easy for the site to make recommendations based on title matches or SKU searches,” said DiCostanzo. It also enabled auto-complete and merchandising throughout the customer experience. And with mass product actions from Amasty, the site can crosslink titles across different book formats, from hardback books to paperbacks, and visa versa.

By adding the customer review platform from Reviews.io, linking customer feedback to the site was seamless, while ShipperHQ delivers accurate shipping calculations for cost and transit for multiple regions. But one of the biggest improvements in Magento Commerce 2 was the Magento API, making BookPal’s integration with Salesforce even easier than before. “This allows us to directionally send customer’s orders and product data back and forth between the two platforms, making order and product management much easier.”

A faster shopping experience

BookPal’s new Magento Commerce 2 site launched in July 2017. “We used the upgrade as an opportunity to add a tremendous amount of new content to the site,” said DiCostanzo. By changing the focus of the site from products to content, they do a better job of explaining how BookPal fits into the publishing marketplace, while creating a cleaner experience, and adding customer-pleasing features like chat to improve engagement.

“We love the updated backend too, and the improved indexing performance for our large catalog,” said DiCostanzo. The BookPal team can now get to order details faster and easier than ever, and move columns to customize views for a clearer picture of operations. “Magento Commerce 2 delivered a faster shopping experience for our customers with a simplified checkout.” Users who don’t complete their purchase are captured by an abandoned cart tool that has helped to lift the conversion rate further.

“Due to the flexibility of Magento and its robust marketplace of extensions, we haven’t run into any roadblocks building out the site,” added DiCostanzo. For BookPal, their commerce ideas have been easy to implement using existing extensions and integrations, minimizing the labor and time taken to add functionality or make updates to the site.

Overall their customer experience vastly improved, resulting in a 25 percent rise in Average Order Value (with a $340+ lift per order) and a 75 percent decrease in bounce rate. Meanwhile, a suite of SEO tools and an improved blog has made it easier for new customers to find BookPal. “Judging by this increase in Average Order Value and the significant decrease in visitor bounce rates, our customers could not be happier,” said DiCostanzo.

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