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How Better World Books increased conversion rates across all platforms

Customers are quickly finding the products that they are looking for, and we are seeing the benefits.

Matt Byers

Sr. Director of Technology @ Better World Books
Better World Books
Use case

B2C Ecommerce

Headquarters

USA and Scotland

Customer since

since 2016

Index Size

20M Products

Key results
  • +10.25% Desktop Conversion Rate 

  • +6.64% Mobile Conversion Rate 

  • +8.27% Tablet Conversion Rate 

  • -95% Search Complaints (Price and Quantity)

The challenge

  • 1.

    Discoverability

  • 2.

    Speed

  • 3.

    Scale

  • 4.

    Instant updates

The solution

  • 1.

    Real-time Indexing: Eliminating discrepancies with inventory and price data in search results with real-time indexing

  • 2.

    Increased Search Speed: Improving user experience with lightning-fast search results to connect users with content more quickly

  • 3.

    Reducing Support Requests: Removing search as the driving factor of customer complaints and support tickets

The result

  • 1.

    typo-tolerance

  • 2.

    near real-time indexing

  • 3.

    Instant Search

  • 4.

    Scalable infrastructure

The challenge

Better World Books was started in 2002 by three friends from the University of Notre Dame who started selling textbooks online to earn some money, and ended up forming a pioneering social enterprise — a business with a mission to promote literacy. 

What started as a small project to collect and sell books online quickly turned into a social enterprise spanning three warehouses in two countries, with millions of items in inventory at any given time. As Better World Books grew, however, their search capabilities could not keep pace with their needs in the following areas: 

  • Discoverability - Customers were not able to find products due to poor indexing and lack of advanced typo tolerance 
  • Speed - Search was slow and therefore a cause of poor user experience 
  • Scale - Products were going unindexed because the incumbent search provider had hard limits on product count
  • Instant Updates - Price and quantity was changing in real time, however, the search index was unable to stay in sync with inventory changes — a leading driver of customer complaints regarding the onsite search experience. 

All of these issues combined to produce a suboptimal customer experience, which was why Better World Books began looking for a new search experience that could deliver users relevant search results with the same fast and familiar experience that they had grown accustomed to across the web.

The solution

Matt Byers, Better World Books’ senior director of technology, discovered Algolia while researching search vendors at a popular developer conference. He realized that Algolia could help provide a greatly improved customer experience by solving the four problems identified above, but had some initial concerns about the ability to scale Algolia’s search to 20 million products. 

Working with Algolia’s Solutions Engineering and Customer Success teams, it was only a matter of days before Matt had a fully functional, live proof of concept operating over the entire 20-million-record index. Working from that initial POC, Matt and his team were able to transition both the betterworldbooks.com and betterworldbooks.co.uk sites onto Algolia’s Instant Search infrastructure.

Betterworkdbooks image

The result

By offering an enhanced customer search experience, Better World Books experienced sizable increases in conversion rates for users across all platforms: desktop (10.25%), tablet (8.27%), and mobile (6.64%). At the same time, they were also able to decrease customer search complaints by 95% with the introduction of Algolia. Overall, Better World Books’ search experience became easier to use, more accurate, faster and more reliable as a result of the following features of the Algolia Search platform:

  • typo-tolerance
  • near real-time indexing
  • Instant Search
  • Scalable infrastructure

“The problems we had previously with inventory quantities and prices in our search results are now non-existent. The scalability and speed of Algolia allows us to list more products more accurately, and truly delight our customers.”

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