Acknowledging that the conversion rate of traffic into sales on the American Booksellers Association’s online platform, IndieBound, has been “very, very low,” ABA CEO Oren Teicher announced the launch of a test aimed at remedying the problem. The goal, the ABA said, is to turn strong engagement with the site into online sales, as well as store visits.
For a limited time, which began Tuesday October 27, IndieBound is giving visitors to the site the option to buy a book directly from the product page by selecting “Buy Now.” Before, customers had to click through to individual member stores, in order to complete their online purchase. The option to “Shop Local” and add their zip code to find their local independent will continue to be available.
The change addresses some of the concerns raised in August by the boards of both the New Atlantic and the New England Independent Booksellers Associations. They called on the ABA to fix the shopping experience on IndieBound, which they said lags a decade behind that of other online sites. Both regionals also expressed concern about the inadequacy of the IndieBound search engine.
Teicher noted that customers choosing “Buy Now” don’t have a favorite local bookstore; very few take the extra steps to find an IndieCommerce website. “A primary goal of the test,” he wrote in an email to IndieCommerce stores, “is to see if—after a successful, one-time purchase on IndieBound.org—these customers can be brought into the indie channel as return buyers at their local bookstores.”
The messaging associated with “Buy Now” purchases—including web pages, confirmation emails, packing slips, and package inserts—will direct customers to nearby indie bookstores. Customers will also get a thank-you email with links to local booksellers. Click-throughs on links in the email will provide details on traffic.
After six months ABA plans to assess whether the conversion rate for book sales at IndieBound rose and how much customer traffic and sales at member stores’ online and brick-and-mortar locations increased due to the revamped site.