CASE STUDY: Development | Ecommerce | Kentico

75% increase in B2B online sales

Helping to rebuild the online presence of this amazing company in order to match their impeccable reputation.


Recorded Books is the largest independent publisher of recorded unabridged and wholly authentic titles with operations in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. Providing great value to today's libraries, Recorded Books delivers the highest-quality audiobooks, eBooks, eMagazines, movies, learning programs and more.

The company was founded back in 1978 by Henry Trentman, one of the pioneers in the audiobook industry. The first book the company ever recorded was Jack London's The Sea-Wolf. Recorded Books launched the careers of many beloved narrators, including Frank Muller; who went on to act on stage and television. As of August 2015, Recorded Books had over 25,000 titles in its catalogue.

We at Distinction are hugely excited to have been selected as their preferred digital partner. Working closely with Recorded Books, we helped them rebuild their online presence and meet their customers' high expectations. The end result is a fully-functional website that lives up to the firm's reputation.

Recorded Books

The Brief

Recorded Books is one of the most famous brand names in the industry. When they approached us, however, their existing website didn't live up to the company's impeccable reputation as it didn't transcend the gap from book store to Internet. The industry was, and still is, rapidly moving towards digital, which prompted Recorded Books to join the field.

In order to keep their website competitive, user-friendly and modern it was necessary to reassess its content and the overall user experience. We undertook a comprehensive discovery phase to understand what made Recorded Books unique, and how best to leverage these unique selling points, before translating this into an online presence.

Our primary goal was to firstly understand what it was that their users were looking for, and then to provide a resource that answered these needs. Understanding the customer buyer journey is critical for the success of every firm, and this is especially true for sites that sell to both consumers (B2C) and trade (B2B). All buyers expect a slick and easy-to-use experience, so we worked hard to ensure this was the case for all Recorded Books customers.

The Solution

Discovery Phase

Over a three-month period, Distinction led a discovery phase to determine any possible opportunities, review competitors, eliminate flaws and define a comprehensive digital strategy for the entire Recorded Books brand.

With a small team we travelled to the United States, where we led a series of workshops with all internal stakeholders. We also engaged with 20 libraries throughout the U.S. We collected data from a good sample size to ensure we surveyed a good cross-section of their client base such as different locations, populations served, sub-branches and average spend. For this we used quantitative techniques, including onsite analytics and website performance, as well as qualitative research, including conducting surveys, to give us an accurate competitor benchmarking report.

Implementation Phase

The extensive discovery phase helped us define all specific requirements of Recorded Books users. All libraries contacted spoke very highly of the organisation. However, it was discovered that their online offering was not catering to their needs, where competitors were.

An interactive design process followed, involving techniques such as wireframing, information architecture planning, diagramming, mood boards, sketching and rapid prototyping. It was essential to use a platform that smoothly combines flexibility, sophistication and ease of use. Therefore, Kentico EMS was chosen as the core system for this project.

Some of the upgraded functionality of the website involves:

  • Recently viewed titles – the website remembers the most recent titles so that users can quickly navigate back.
  • A recommendations section – this area is split up into 3 categories: New Releases, Bestsellers and Upcoming Releases.
  • Title detail pages - includes title images, authors, synopsis, audio previews and other relevant information.
  • Improved shopping carts experience – the new website is now able to display and transact items in multiple currencies as well as show bundling, and promotional and curated lists. Furthermore, customers can take advantage of having an infinite shopping cart. This means that they can add, delete, move or share content with other customers without having to worry that the items they have saved might expire and simply disappear from their shopping cart.
  • Creating an account – new and existing users now have the option to complete an online form and create an account
  • Enhanced content within the help section – users no longer have to struggle to understand something; they can now look it up in the much-improved FAQs section or just watch a short video

Another key area we worked on was to significantly improve the search experience. Now users can quickly find what they are looking for by using the 'quick search' box. We also included other features such as contextual relevance, suggestive search, advanced search and pre-set searches.

We also created a custom discount model for Recorded Books, as the standard discount models provided by Kentico did not have complex enough functionality for what the client needed. We built a bespoke model for Recorded Books so that filtering was included, and also added a macro builder so that Recorded Books could make more specific filtering. In the API, discounts are calculated in runtime for each single title, in every page (title details, search, wish list etc.). This is possible without a negative impact in the site performance thanks to AngularJS, which calls to this function asynchronously for each title.

Website analytics showed a steady increase in mobile and tablet traffic, a trend that is predicted to continue. It was therefore essential for the new website to be fully mobile and tablet friendly using a blend of responsive and adaptive design.

The Results

From the very beginning it was clear that once the newly designed website was launched, there would be a significant increase in customer satisfaction.

Since the website went live in April 2016, Recorded Books has seen a huge 75% increase in sales. As if that wasn’t enough, the new website has received:

  • 10% increase in page views
  • 99% increase in session duration
  • 30% decrease in bounce rate
  • 63% more pages viewed per session

In addition, the project has reduced the costs of ongoing maintenance, increased online sales and given Recorded Books an online platform that allows them better engage with their customers.

What do Recorded Books say?

Mike TraskDirector of Platform Development at Recorded Books

“This project was both very challenging and very rewarding. We put in a lot of work and came out with a great new website, that has increased our online sales considerably.”

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