How World of Books converted more
shoppers with relevant search experience
and merchandising techniques?

World of Books is one of the largest online sellers of used books in the world and the largest in the UK. With 6 mn+ products hosted on the platform, it aims to sell quality used books at competitive prices to customers worldwide. They enable millions of books to go on to be re-read in a new home across 190 countries, which is why they have multiple sites to cater to various parts of the world. The vision of the company is to help people reuse and recycle for less through innovation and technology.

Founded: 2005

Headquarters: US

Geography Served:

Industry: Online
Shopping (Books)


increase in search


less search


increase in users
buying via search

The requirement to build contextual relevance

World of Books’s websites cater to thousands of avid readers – on a daily basis – who visit the website looking for their next read. The shoppers’ search is generally defined by a specific author, book title, or the latest read in a particular genre. This makes it imperative for the site search to deliver relevant results to what the readers want to buy and read. World of Books saw an opportunity here to improve their users’ site search experience.

“There were tens of thousands of searches being made daily by the readers to fetch the book from our extensive catalog – which is around 2.4m items per each storefront. Unfortunately, we were having issues delivering high quality search results to these customers, and knew that we could do better.”, says David Kyle, Digital Marketing Manager at World of Books.

World of Books discovered that conversion rates were still strong from site search, making the opportunity to improve their offering even more exciting. Whilst visitors could find the products that they came looking for, they didn’t necessarily get shown good results for every search eventuality. Relevancy had room for improvement. World of Books had deployed an out-of-the-box site search solution that came as part of their backend infrastructure. This site search used text-matching techniques to show the search results. With no provision to boost/bury certain products or prepare holiday-ready campaigns, World of Books had few merchandising techniques. This limited the scope of what World of Books could offer their shoppers.

The way your eCommerce Search works has to be customized depending on the vertical and nature of business. General-purpose search platforms require manual configurations to be made to cater to your business-specific needs. What they needed was a site search solution that deploys custom-built AI-models catering to the needs of an online book store with a vast inventory. That is where Unbxd could help.

Making product discovery easier and faster for readers

Unbxd understood that the nuances of a large inventory of books, CDs and DVDs made unearthing the right products challenging.

Other limitations of their previous search implementation were apparent when it came to displaying multiple product types for searches, with little control over their priority ordering. Unbxd also helped provide a more comprehensive Autosuggest experience, showing relevant products and categories alongside popular search results related to the users’ search query

Unbxd took end-to-end responsibility of indexing the feed and making product discovery faster and easier for World of Books’ shoppers. Unbxd parsed catalog files for the complete inventory of millions of books, DVDs, Vinyl and CDs once they had been sent to the Unbxd servers.

Unbxd uses AI-based relevancy and semantic search algorithms that go beyond simple text-pattern matching techniques. It tokenizes each search query, understands shopper intent to map to the most relevant product and desired attributes to showcase relevant results – even when shoppers use natural language or long-tail queries. This helped World of Books to build stronger relevancy into its search results.

“Unbxd has really helped us take our website to the next level – increasing search result relevancy straight out of the box initially, and improving beyond this with their highly customizable tools has seen us deliver a search experience that is seeing users needing to refine their search results over 20% less and is keeping users on our site longer as they discover more of what they are looking for.”

David Kyle,
Digital Marketing Manager at World of Books.

As a result of which World of Books saw a 150% increase in the search impressions and a significant decrease in search refinements, meaning their users were finding more of what they were after at their first attempt. This enabled their readers’ to have an enhanced shopping experience on the website whilst looking for their favorite reads.

Boosting sales with relevant merchandising techniques

After considerably improving the search relevancy, the next thing Unbxd made it simpler for the marketing team at World of Books to do was employ a range of new merchandising techniques. The ability to alter a particular page’s results, for example demoting the certain products and boosting the latest or popular releases helped create more compelling landing pages.

They could study and analyze the popular search queries being made by the readers on their website and curate landing pages to suit seasonal events – particularly useful during World Book Day 2020, as well as for the busy book-buying period at Christmas.

World of Books increased engagement with their online shoppers – and not just directly through the the website. More targeted email copy with well-aligned landing pages created through Unbxd saw conversions from this channel improve massively – seeing their opted-in customers purchase more through emails than ever before.

David adds, “Some of the additional functionality we have added through Unbxd, such as the curated landing pages feature, has seen us set new records for engagement from email marketing as well as driving very high conversion rates from pages that unearth exactly what our users are looking for in specific areas. So much so, we have heavily integrated Unbxd across our on-site navigation, and feature it front-and-center on our homepage to promote seasonal activities.”

The Business impact World of Books realized in the Unbxd era

World of Books had ventured out looking for a solution that could improve product discovery for their online shoppers. With Unbxd, they are now able to provide a seamless search experience that has led to 80% increase in users purchasing after using their on-site search. Additional merchandising techniques have seen them deliver significant double-digit conversion rates in some areas; like Autocomplete and well targeted landing pages linked through their site navigation

“Search is a high converting function for most e-commerce websites, so it’s no mean feat to improve upon this – which is exactly what we have seen since we implemented Unbxd across our websites.”, says David Kyle, Digital Marketing Manager at World of Books.

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