New chapters are written: Notabene.no sells books online

Camilla Jacobsen
by Camilla Jacobsen 21/07/2021

Is it possible to go from a physical store to an online business? Yes it is! Read more about it, as we describe Norwegian company Notabene’s journey.

New chapters are written: Notabene.no sells books online

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In 2019, Norway’s third-largest book chain, Notabene, went bankrupt. The market and consumer preferences had simply changed too much. Although it sounds like the end of the story, it had only just begun. After the bankruptcy, Notabene was acquired by Harald Enersen and, today, Notabene operates five physical stores in northern Norway. However, the new thing about Notabene is not the physical stores. The new thing is that the company has focused mainly on e-commerce and so is also an online bookstore that sells books, school, and office supplies, etc.: Notabene.no.

From physical to online store

Notabene is a brand that has over 30 years of history - A history that has gained a new narrative through an online universe:

One of the biggest challenges we have had is to show consumers that we still exist. But just not where they think. We are no longer the local business with a shop in every city. We are online. They must find us online, says Preben, Marketing Manager at Notabene.no.

So how do you go from being a big chain to a differentiated player in the market? To be successful in the online market, Notabene.no has specifically focused on creating a new identity while creating a strong webshop:

We try very hard to put a friendly face on our organization. We don't just want to be a logo. It is a transition, considering that we were once a very large company, Preben explains.

Notabene.no, which is built on Shopify, has over 50,000 products on its webshop and sells everything in books and office supplies. But as part of the new identity and in an attempt to stand out from the other bookstores, Notabene.no focuses especially on local books which cannot normally be found online - the books that you can usually find at only a few local bookstores. And the strategy seems to be working. The shop is busy and, in just one year, the company has gone from having one full-time employee on the webshop to three full-time employees.

A simple and efficient workflow

If you want to be successful with your webshop, you need, among others things, to have an efficient work process, and this is something that Notabene.no can testify to:

When we started with the webshop, we had a very manual process in our management of orders, and therefore we began to make changes on an ongoing basis to streamline. And as a small organization, we can quickly make changes. If we see something we want to change, we can more or less do it overnight, says Preben.

Preben further says that the entire process of establishing the webshop has been ongoing, and so they first experienced the challenges as they progressed in the process. And it was, among others, here that Shipmondo came into the picture:

We discovered that our shipments were becoming increasingly difficult to manage, and we therefore lacked a way to create an efficient workflow - and here Shipmondo was a good solution, says Preben.

Overall, according to Preben, Notabene.no has a very simple workflow, and most of their orders are handled based on a just-in-time model, where the process looks like this:

  1. The customer places an order on the webshop
  2. Inventory gets checked, if it is not in Notabene’s warehouse, the item gets ordered from distributors
  3. The item is received from the distributor
  4. The item is matched with the customer’s order
  5. The shipment is set up in Shipmondo
  6. The package label is printed and the order is prepared for shipment

Notabene has connected their Shopify webshop to Shipmondo, where they manage orders and prepare shipments through Order Management. You can do the same and automate the whole process e.g. so that a shipping label or pick list is automatically printed when an order is placed.

In Shipmondo you can send packages through Shipmondo’s and your own shipping agreements. Notabene sends through its own freight agreement with PostNord but still has the opportunity to use Shipmondo’s agreements with PostNord Norway and Bring Norway.

Although Notabene primarily works with a just-in-time model, the webshop still has a small warehouse where several items are already ready to go, so not all items are ordered only when the customer places an order. You can see some of the warehouse here:

Norwegian warehouse pick, pack and ship

The important return process

As a webshop, Notabene.no has found out how important the return process is for Norwegian consumers:

Creating a good return experience is something we see as crucial. Customer satisfaction is very important to us, and we want to create a positive experience - whether it is a customer returning a product or shopping with us for the first time, Preben explains.

To give its customers a good and easy experience when it comes to returns, Notabene.no uses Shipmondo’s Return Portal. See how they have set it up below:

Norwegian return portal

It has been particularly important for Notabene.no to gather all returns on one platform with PostNord, because it creates an easy flow where return errors are reduced:

We can see that customers use the return portal, and it also gives us access to see if there are any returns. It's really cool to have control over all the return shipments. It also reduces the risk of return shipments disappearing in the delivery process due to errors in the address or incorrect payment of shipping, which has been a problem for us in the past, Preben says.

Good advice for other webshops

If you ask Preben about how to succeed as a webshop, the answer is simple:

Differentiate yourself and be open-minded. The greatest success is also found in the smaller segments. And that is what we are seeing right now with Notabene.no. We are not going to compete to be the biggest, but we want to be the natural choice when one is looking for books and school accessories, he says.

In addition, he also explains that the technical aspect plays a significant role, and that as a webshop you should find solutions that can help and support the daily workflow. A solution such as Shipmondo.

You can read even more cases with companies where we have helped to streamline order and freight management. Read for instance about how the webshop Curvii has tailored their very own solution with Shipmondo’s API.

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