When Oliver Prappacher approached the Latori team in 2018 and introduced us to HarperCollins, the second-largest book publisher in the USA, we already suspected that this would be an exciting collaboration. The publishing group HarperCollins Germany, based in Hamburg and previously known as Harlequin, has been in existence since the 1970s and was bought out in 2015. With thrillers, fiction, non-fiction and children's books as well as novel booklets, also known in this country as dime novels, the publishing house continued to expand its importance in the local book business. The HarperCollins Germany publishing group combines the subbrands - also known as imprints in the publishing industry - Dragonfly, Schneiderbuch and CORA and, most recently, Ecco Verlag.
In 2019, the publishing house said goodbye to Magento and switched to Shopify Plus, with the Latori team providing full support. Why the switch was worthwhile, how the collaboration went and why online business is also gaining relevance in the book industry can be read in the interview with digital and metadata manager Oliver Prappacher.
Table of contents
- Your publishing house has a strong online presence. How does the online business relate to the stationary bookshop?
- Latori was allowed to implement your shop. With which initial problem did you approach our team?
- Why was Latori chosen?
- Describe how the cooperation with our team went then.
- What special features do your online shops need that had to be implemented by the Latori team?
- How were your customers made aware of the relaunch and what was the feedback?
- Why would you choose to work with an agency like Latori again?
- What are the next steps for HarperCollins and CORA? And what role does Latori play in this?
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Your publishing house has a strong online presence. How does the online business relate to the stationary bookshop?
Oliver Prappacher: It is indeed the case that the online presence is very high. Nevertheless, the stationary book trade is still enormously important for us. It is still the main point of sale, both for our books, which can be found in various bookshops such as Hugendubel, Thalia or the bookshop around the corner, and for the novel booklets of CORA Verlag, which are mainly sold in kiosks, railway station bookshops or also in supermarkets such as Edeka or Rewe.
However, the online share is growing in both segments. With our shops harpercollins.de and cora.de, both of which are run via Shopify, we have been able to strongly expand our positions here compared to other publishers. Nevertheless, it is more difficult to gain a foothold in the book business with an online shop.
Latori was allowed to implement your shop. With which initial problem did you approach our team?
Oliver Prappacher: The initial problem is probably familiar to many: We had our shop on a Magento 1.6 version and when Magento 2.0 was announced, we had to consider whether to switch to it or use a completely different shop software. So we started a small project to find out which shop software could map our requirements. In joint discussions with our parent company, we finally came to the conclusion that Shopify was a good system for our needs. Thereupon, we began the search for a suitable partner.
Reading tip: All information about the cooperation with Harper Collins and many more case studies can be found in our references.
Why was Latori chosen?
Oliver Prappacher: We approached Latori at the end of 2018. We then had a kick-off meeting in Hamburg to clarify how a cooperation could work. We went through various topics of what Latori could implement for us and we were able to clarify all the questions that had been burning under our nails for a while. There are some special features in the book industry that have to be taken into account, such as the fixed book price. The workshop with Latori took away some of our fears about how to get the data into the shop on one side and how to make sure that the prices are always the same. Latori was able to make it very clear to us in this personal conversation that all our special features could be implemented at a fair price in a good time.
Describe how the cooperation with our team went then.
Oliver Prappacher: We worked out a plan together and defined the To Dos. Latori then began to implement them and keep us informed on a weekly basis. Through testing on our part, we found out where changes were still needed. Shortly before the launch, we were in contact almost daily to discuss which adjustments still needed to be made and where changes were still needed. Everything was implemented very quickly and to our satisfaction and, above all, adapted in such a way that we were aware of what would happen next.
Reading tip: Latori is the first officially recognised Shopify Plus agency in Germany. Read here how we support you with your project.
What special features do your online shops need that had to be implemented by the Latori team?
Oliver Prappacher: The topic of price is enormously important, especially for books, due to the fixed book price. This makes everything a little more difficult because we have to make sure that the price is always the same and cannot be pushed down by discount codes. Giveaways or other promotions and specials are also not feasible here. This issue had to be ensured by Latori. We also needed an interface to our data warehouse. We supply the metadata for all books via our publishing software and via our service provider ReadBox. This data is then forwarded to Thalia, Amazon and Co. For this, we needed an interface to be able to read out all the necessary data from the shop. Latori also had to provide an interface to our payment service provider to ensure error-free fulfilment. Each order is routed to our warehouse, packed and finally shipped out.
Not only did Latori help us with the programming, but also with the design. We originally had the Empire theme. However, there is not much left of it, as Latori has adapted a lot of individualities for us. The team did a great job here and established little logics like our mini-series, so that the related products are easy to find. A new addition is the topic of audio downloads, which Latori implemented for us only last year, so that we can offer our audio books for download.
Now everything is much easier to handle and, above all, faster than in the old shop. Maintaining the online shop has also become much easier. Magento, on the other hand, was like a little monster back then.
At a glance:
This is what Latori realised for HarperCollins
Creation of the Shopify Plus shop
Creation of the Dragonfly sub-shop for a separate presentation of the children's book section
Function for synchronising product data on the basis of ONIX data through a separate Shopify app
Interface to Zenit
Interface to DSB
Interface to Readbox
Shop configuration and basic settings
Setting the frontend language
Creation of the collections
Creation and filling of pages
Creation of the menus
Creation and customisation of e-mail templates
Programming of additional desired functions
Integration and configuration of various Shopify apps
Creation of a professional layout
Individual customisation of the layout
Integration of individual logic for displaying products/variants
Creation of various sections
How were your customers made aware of the relaunch and what was the feedback?
Oliver Prappacher: Before the relaunch, we selected customers, wrote to them and directed them to our Shopify preview shop. There they could give their feedback on what they like and what appeals to them less. Based on the feedback, we made a few changes and finally launched the launch campaign "CORA shines in new splendour". Then we wrote to all our customers and informed them that we would soon have a new look. Of course, this announcement was also on our old Magento shop. So from the beginning we tried to get our customers on board and take their feedback to heart, so that the user experience is also satisfactory on the new shop.
Reading tip: You want to switch from Magento to Shopify? We explain what you need to consider!
Why would you choose to work with an agency like Latori again?
Oliver Prappacher: In fact, it is the speed and understanding that convinced us. Most of the time I thought I would send instructions and requests around and then we would have to talk about it again in the call. But often it just came back ready to go. In addition, the technical understanding on the part of Latori is extremely high - the team knows what it is doing, even with such a difficult product as the book. The fast implementation, the agility and also the human resources simply speak for using an agency like Latori. We could not have done all the implementation ourselves as a team. It's no problem to create a Shopify shop - but all the individual adjustments could only be programmed by real experts.
Reading tip: We also supported Asphaltgold with the migration from Magento to Shopify Plus. You can read how we proceeded here in this article.
What are the next steps for HarperCollins and CORA? And what role does Latori play in this?
Oliver Prappacher: Latori will definitely continue to play a role in the future, because it always needs to be adapted and no shop is ever free of bugs. So we will be constantly optimising it.
Together with Latori, we are tackling the product import, for example, which is to be adapted to the Onix standard 3.0. This will enable us to pass on important meta data to both retailers and customers or make it visible in the shop. Further changes regarding backend settings and frontend design will be associated with this.
In the future, we also plan to be able to export data directly from the publishing software and forward it to other shops. Currently, this process runs through an intermediary. We will implement these steps with Latori at our side.
Are you a Magento customer and would like to switch or do you have any other concerns that we can help you with? Feel free to contact us!