Online Sales – Getting Rid of the Middleman
By Nevine Marchiset
The vast majority of ILAB booksellers sell through the Internet. This does not mean that they have given up selling through more traditional methods (paper catalogues, book fairs, open shops, direct offers to customers, etc.); selling through the Internet is just another means of working.
Whereas the vast majority of ILAB booksellers would definitely refuse selling all their wares through a middleman at book fairs, through their catalogues, etc., they find it very natural to do so online.
The question is why?
Historically, the technology was not available when the Internet started. The dealers who got early on the Internet wagon had to use aggregator sites because there was no other solution. At the beginning, these sites allowed an easy and direct contact between the bookseller and the customer. However, the owners of these sites soon realized that they could make more money by providing not only the technology, but also by acting as middlemen, taking a commission on sales and making direct contact difficult. Booksellers didn’t like that, but there was nothing they could do, or so they thought.
Getting rid of the middleman is not only feasible, but desirable. If only for the dealer to regain control of his electronic destiny.
Building one’s own database and website used to be a costly and complicated affair. Not anymore.
There are dedicated platforms that allow easy upload of stock and images, with easy-to-use tools, secure payment, and excellent search-engine optimization (Google, etc.). These platforms allow booksellers to sell directly to customers, who can subscribe to specific subjects of their choice, and who automatically receive notices whenever a book in their chosen field is added.
An individual website is a means of making connections with new and existing customers. In the collector's eye the internet is primarily a powerful tool for discovery. And the discoveries are not just the individual books they might find but also the individual booksellers whose interests and specialties match their own. The close relationship between bookseller and collector has not been made obsolete by the internet. On the contrary, it has made it easier than ever before for collectors to find the handful of booksellers, scattered around the world, who will be most helpful to them.
Such individual websites can be, for a very modest annual fee, searched by ILAB and ViaLibri. Search results on those sites will send the customer directly to the dealer’s website, and not to a middleman. A "Direct from Seller" link can bring those collectors through the dealer’s digital door and give him a chance to present to them the totality of what he has to offer, both in merchandise and expertise. A "Direct From Seller" link to an individual website, displayed as part of an ILAB or ViaLibri search results, will allow dealers to connect directly with customers, without requiring a middleman or intermediary. Purchases will go into the dealer’s shopping cart. Contact emails and receipts will come directly to the dealer.
However, to be honest, some of the customers still go directly to the large aggregator sites, either because they want to be able to search directly within a huge database, or else because shopping from various sources in one same shopping basket makes their lives easier.
But building and maintaining a direct relationship with customers and getting them to like a dealer’s identity and personality in the online marketplace can only be done through individual websites.
Getting one’s own website is the only way to be free of the middleman, for at least a large and important percentage of a dealers’ sales.
More information and technical details:
ViaLibri Online Bookseller’s Toolkit
The new viaLibri Online Bookseller’s Toolkit is a WordPress plugin that helps antiquarian booksellers to sell their books and connect with customers. It easily converts a static WordPress website or blog into a dynamic ecommerce storefront. Items listed for sale also become searchable on viaLibri, where the “Buy From” links are marked as “Direct From Seller” and take the customer directly to an item page on the bookseller’s own website. A shopping cart can be provided and credit card sales will be enabled (Ready soon). Search results have been designed to maximise the impact of images.
Will also include the following features:
> Easy data and image uploads via Dropbox.
> A dynamic, scrolling image showcase can be displayed on any page.
> ‘Recent Arrivals’ lists can be created automatically or selected manually.
> Photo zoom for showing image details.
> Flexible category/keyword menus.
>> Visit the ViaLibri Website.
Bibliopolis has built websites for more than 300 booksellers around the world offering inventory control, easy hands-on management, and a satisfying online shopping experience.
These websites enhance the traditional bookseller’s tools-of-the-trade: advanced searching, topic browsing, automated new arrival notification, "want" matching, mail list capture, and inventory-routing to 3rd-Party marketplaces. The Bibliopolis ecommerce platform protects shoppers and instills the confidence that consumers demand. Check out is quick and accounts can easily be created for repeat business. The Bibliopolis advanced-search and SEO technology helps win more customers by providing the results they expect.
Bibliopolis custom-designs every website to enhance a bookseller’s brand (and sales!) and provides reliable customer support during and after development.
>> Visit www.Bibliopolis.com.
This article will be published in the next printed ILAB Newsletter. Coming soon. Picture: Nevine Marchiset.