Founded in Lund, Sweden, in 1997 and once the largest online retailer in Europe, Bokus.com is the posterchild of eCommerce in Sweden regardless category. Its founders, Kajsa Leander and Ernst Malmsten, were two of the pioneers as commerce took its first steps towards digitalization.
Today Bokus.com is part of Bokusgruppen, the Swedish market leader in book sales across all channels, including bookstores, online and the rapidly growing Bokus Play for audio and e-books. The Bokus.com brand is strong and known to 80% of the Swedish adult population and together with Bokus Play attracts some 40 million site visitors yearly and account for 40% of the group’s total sales of 1,8 billion SEK.
Selling books online means dealing with a lot of titles. In the case of Bokus.com, the number of titles is close to 15 million, and each year the company sells around 500,000 of these. Given these volumes, one of many challenges is to handle the long tail of titles, make them searchable, and recommend the most relevant books to each unique site visitor, while maintaining great site performance.
Bokus.com is a long-time user of eSales. In fact, it was one of Apptus’ first customers and has been running a locally hosted version of eSales since long before the system was migrated to run as a service, in the cloud. Bokus has been very pleased with eSales and the “low touch” way it utilizes AI to constantly optimize the relevancy of recommendations based on user behaviour.
As Bokus.com started its journey towards modernizing its eCommerce, including the product discovery system, guided by its new strategy of moving more business critical systems into the cloud, they realized that the challenge was more of an infrastructure one. Staying on the old on-prem solution, which would be very costly in terms of hardware and maintenance, would also mean not utilizing the latest technical advances of eSales. Also, meeting the requirements of Bokus Play, simply would not be possible to stay on the old version. Bokus was at the crossroads and at this point, it was simply a question of how to best move from manual to automation, from monolith to composable, from IT-dependent to sales and marketing driven.
Having scanned the market and evaluated a few alternatives, Bokus.com soon realized that eSales still was the best alternative for meeting the requirements on scalability and performance as well as empowering the organization to make the shift from IT to a more marketing-driven solution.
When upgrading our eCommerce, we looked for best-of-breed vendors to improve every part of our future solution. eSales qualified as the best option in Product Discovery, said Victor Lysell, Head of IT Development at Bokusgruppen.
Apart from handling large volumes, the upgraded version of eSales needed to fit into a new, modern, loosely coupled and cloud-based infrastructure.
We were looking at upgrading most parts of the commerce infrastructure. Moving to next generation eSales seemed uncomplicated and a good first step of this journey, said Victor Lysell.
Another positive factor was the immense commitment from the Apptus team for making the migration a success. Notwithstanding all the requirements, the upgrade was a smooth process.
Despite the tight timeline of the project, it only took the team four weeks to complete it. We are of course very pleased with the outcome as it was accomplished on time and budget, with great results, adds Victor Lysell.
With the new version of eSales in place, Bokus.com now enjoys the many benefits of a modern Product Discovery architecture. The upgrade strengthens search results, brings more relevancy in sorted and filtered product listings, adds intuitive navigation, and contextual and personalized recommendations for online shoppers. In essence, for the shopper, the product discovery experience has been enhanced, whether they decide to purchase online or just prepare for a visit to one of the company’s stores.
Bokus.com now enjoy a dynamic and scalable product discovery solution, running in the cloud, to meet peaks in online activities, with no need to pay for under-utilized capacity. eSales is a guarantor of 365/24/7 availability, constantly improving recommendation quality for Bokus.com customers.
The eSales AI constantly picks up and responds to trends in user behaviour. A good example is how eSales automatically detects and recommends the Nobel Prize winner, literally seconds after the announcement has been made, says Marcos Widung, Development Manager at Bokusgruppen.
Running eSales in the cloud has also eliminated any alternative, up-front investment in a “private cloud” infrastructure hardware that would have been required, not to mention the IT-resources that would have to be spent on maintaining the system. The new setup also brings cost savings in terms of lower integration costs. As with any SaaS solution, customers always run the latest version and by making the upgrade, Bokus.com now instantly can benefit from all the latest eSales inventions as they are automatically deployed.
Finally, the upgrade has brought some clear benefits for the Bokus.com organization as well. One of the main goals of the upgrade was to empower the marketing organization to be less dependent on in-house IT resources. With eSales in place, Bokus.com has an easier-to-use system where every aspect of the operation can be managed by the business, in a solution where the marketing organization has full merchandising control.