Waterstones has relaunched its website after several months in the planning, to create a “simpler and more pleasurable experience” for customers to shop online.
The company has relaunched its website with a new look and feel, featuring booksellers’ reviews, the integration of the Waterstones blog and promising customers a website that’s easier to use “while on the move”, fully responsive to tablets and mobile phones.
The bookseller is also now offering customers access to 250,000 titles online available within 24 hours, up from 25,000 before, by shipping from its largest shops. It has also promised its successful Click and Collect service will be much easier to use on its new website, allowing customers to choose a "Preferred Shop" as a default option when they use the service.
The Waterstones website also gives each shop its own page, developing over time to reflect the interests of their customers. As the site grows, the pages will show the unique character of each shop and include bookseller recommendations, local events and photographs, Waterstones said.
James Daunt, m.d of Waterstones, said: "Immediate delivery on a huge range of books and efficient click-and-collect will now be experienced through a modern website. It is very exciting to have this potential to create an online personality, building on the rejuvenation of our physical estate of shops."
Today’s launch is just the first step towards this, the company said, and Waterstones has a rolling programme of improvements and new features in the pipeline for 2015.
The new platform welcomes customers with the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlist, before a unveiling a list of bestsellers and then offering customers a 30% discount on many titles. There is also a section on the website explaining the new look to customers.
The re-launch of Waterstones website will be welcomed by publishers and other industry on-lookers who have privately said the company’s online presence and e-book selling power needed to improve to continue the prosperity of the company and enhance its offer by comparison to Amazon.
Only last week, Lisa Milton, m.d of Orion fiction told The Bookseller: “If Waterstones could create a viable, legitimate sales platform for e-books, I would be even happier, and I hope James Daunt solves that conundrum.”
The re-launch also comes after several delays. In summer, m.d James Daunt said the company wanted to avoid a drop in sales in the approaching key Christmas period, which happened to Marks & Spencer and sales dropped by 8.1% when customers were put off re-registering on its new website. It was then delayed from an end-of-December relaunch, which coincided with negotiations to buy Tesco's e-book platform blink box books, which eventually fell through.
Customers logging in for the first time following the platform's re-launch will need to re-set their password and customers’ previous Order History, purchased e-books and MP3s, reviews, Waterstones cards, wish lists and address book have all been saved.
New customers also don’t have to register on the website in order to make a purchase. However, customers will have to renew their debit and credit card details which have not been saved for safety and security reasons.
The website says: “Any funds held on your online e-wallet can be found on a new virtual gift card under 'Gift cards' within your account.”
Waterstones offers e-book under the heading 'selected formats' and tell customers: "Our EPUB e-books can be read on mobiles, tablets, computers and e-readers (except for Kindle)." However, it also mentions that it has a Read for Free service, where customers can sit in a Waterstones shop and use the wifi to read an eligible kindle book from Amazon for free for up to an hour, following the retailer's partnership with the company to stock its devices in 2011.