Founded in 1973, Lonely Planet is the world’s largest travel media company. Having operated online since the early 1990’s, Lonely Planet’s online innovation carries on today, in fact, they were recently featured on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies!
Despite an early investment in digital retail Lonely Planet’s in-house system became a hindrance to their success online. To help them undergo a digital rebirth, Lonely Planet partnered with Demac Media to bring a new store to life on the Workarea Commerce Platform.
This cutting-edge responsive site brings together the power of great Content and optimized Commerce journeys to help consumers in 100+ countries explore the world around them.
In honor of the recent launch of Shop.LonelyPlanet.com we’re pleased to to bring you an interview with Mike Nelson, Global Director of eCommerce and Partnerships at Lonely Planet.
In his role, Mike Nelson deals with everything transactional at Lonely Planet from digital downloads to physical guidebooks, even travel insurance and hotel reservations. Mike is highly experienced in the digital retail world, having previously worked for retailers listed on both the INC 500 and Internet Retailer 500, making him uniquely equipped to lead Lonely Planet in the direction of online growth through a replatform with Demac Media and Workarea.
Here’s what Mike had to say about working with Demac and Workarea to relaunch Lonely Planet’s online store.
Who relies on your eCommerce platform and integrations to get their jobs done?
We are predominantly a content organization, with an adjacent eCommerce site, so there are many departments that are involved in projects, goals, and meetings.
Everything from Finance to Marketing and Warehousing to Customer Service play a role in getting products into our customers’ hands. On a day-to-day basis, you’ll see half a dozen dedicated individuals using the platform.
What were the 2-3 most challenging pain points on your former system that led to replatforming?
- Our old platform was not mobile optimized, thus deterring mobile visitors
- Categories were fixed, not allowing us to create cross-categorized product offerings
- Discount types were limited and couldn’t fulfill gift with purchase opportunities
Why did Lonely Planet choose Workarea over other eCommerce platforms
When we were evaluating the platforms in the marketplace, we wanted something that came with “bells and whistles” while still being was easy to use.
This meant finding a platform that worked with our existing platforms, across all markets, in multiple versions, that could be updated with the click of a couple of buttons, and didn’t get stale after we launched.
Plus, there was a great culture fit between both, Demac Media and Workarea!
Given that you are a Content Company, how did the Lonely Planet eCommerce team previously add content to their former site?
We built a basic ad-unit platform that would allow us to upload different images on the fly, but nothing was scheduled. Luckily, as a global company, we always had someone online who could upload and turn it live for us. Being able to schedule in the new platform is a really great addition to our workflow.
Post-relaunch are you saving time on routine site updates/administration?
While, it’s too early to tell at this stage (having only launched in February); we are already saving time on transaction details because this is now held in one place making it much more useful and efficient. We are looking forward to spending more time in the platform discovery all the new elements and features of the system.
How did you first learn about Workarea?
Workarea was referred to us from consultants who have worked with the top retail companies in the world. We had also visited their booth in Chicago during Internet Retailer Convention & Exhibition and were impressed in what we saw, giving us confidence to include it in our original RFI.
What functionality/features within Workarea are you eager to take advantage of?
Workarea is such a great platform but I am most excited to take advantage of creating landing pages without the need of developers! I am also looking forward to the smart product recommendations, a quick mobile checkout, and a broader promotional toolkit.
How have your customers benefited from the new online store?
In the first 3 weeks, we have seen mobile bounce rates improve by 89%. Customers are also able to compare product types better than before with our comparison pop-up drawer.
What made you decide to sell direct to consumer?
Lonely Planet was actually one of the first companies to sell online. We’ve always had an early online presence, and it made sense to provide a direct consumer opportunity when we were already creating a direct dialogue with the travel community.
In fact, customers could order through our website in the early ’90s. It wasn’t really a big decision to sell online – we knew that we had loyal customers all over the world who were looking to get our products.
What are the most important metrics you use to measure the success of Lonely Planet online?
Our top KPIs are what you’d expect: Conversion rates, bounce rates, coupons used, products added to cart, abandoned carts, time to checkout, customer service requests, and repeat purchasers and unique orders.
While it is too soon to see the last item on that list, all other KPIs have improved. We have also seen a significant increase in products added to cart and, as mentioned before, fantastic mobile engagement.
Finally, how did you hear about Demac Media?
Demac came by way of Workarea’s recommendation – we are happy with the work that they have put into the platform and the communication throughout the process!
To learn more about Demac Media and the services we provide on the Workarea Commerce Platform, click here to contact us!