Standaard Boekhandel

"Our online shop doesn’t compete with our physical shop."

Interview with Mario Dewarier — B2B manager.

Standaard Boekhandel

There has to be a strong vision behind a company that has been around for more than 100 years. Standaard Boekhandel was founded in 1919 and has 140 shops in Flanders and Brussels. They have also had a popular online shop since 2011, in addition to their physical shops. These channels both go hand-in-hand – and better yet, “they reinforce each other”, said B2B manager Mario Dewarier.

There is no competition between the online and physical shops. “People often ask us that question,” laughs Mario. “But at Standaard Boekhandel, the online shop does not present a threat to our regular shops. We see that they complement each other well. Anyone who orders something online can have it delivered at home, but our numbers show that many people still choose to pick up their online order in-store. We received many more orders through our website during the corona lockdown. Now that our shops have reopened, we noticed that people still like to browse around looking for the right book in a physical shop. That shows that both are still wanted and needed”.

A Standaard Boekhandel parcel and award.

A promise from us

Mario explains that the reason Standaard Boekhandel has been around for so long is rooted in the company’s philosophy. “We don’t like excesses here. Every collaboration and investment is extremely well-considered, research is done and figures are numbers are reviewed and re-reviewed”.

A second important element that makes the bookshop chain so strong is the prevalence of its open culture. “Both customers and employees know what they can get from Standaard Boekhandel. We only make promises we can keep and are honest and open about those. ‘Expertise’ is one of our company values. That fits us really well because our customers know that our employees have the necessary professional experience and can competently assist them. That’s our promise from us to them, and one we keep delivering upon”.

“Our customers know that our employees have the necessary professional experience”

Mario Dewarier B2B Manager at Standaard Boekhandel

Two men and a woman in a storage room with shelving

One of the other promises that Standaard Boekhandel must continuously live up to is maintaining their online shop, particularly for schools. “We work closely with many schools. The pupils can see their book lists for the next school year through a special online shop, and they can order their textbooks through us. We prepare the packages and deliver them directly to the schools”. The main challenge and biggest difference with the regular online shop are the peak times. “There is enormous pressure on the system at the end of the school year and at the top of the new one. In particular, the payment platform must absolutely never fail, otherwise the orders will not go through and the students will not have their books”.

Clear and user-friendly

For these customers, as well as others, it is particularly important to Standaard Boekhandel that their customers can easily find, order and conveniently pay online. “It has to be user-friendly and clear. That’s how it is on our sites and also on Mollie’s platform”. In addition, customers are now used to being able to pay in different ways. For Mario, that’s why it’s important to offer all these payment options. “We formally worked with direct debit only, but now people can opt for immediate payment with various options. About 80-85% of our online sales are now made by immediate payment”.

Three men behind their laptops in an office environment

Online data is constantly changing

Standaard Boekhandel finds it equally important to still look to the future. “The company may be 100 years old, but that doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about tomorrow. On the contrary: if you don’t have a clear vision for the future, the story will soon come to an end”. The online shop’s growing popularity is an important aspect of their future vision. “The online data remains a challenge every day because it changes constantly. Yet we are ready. We invested in an updated online shop two years ago as well as the underlying systems. Therefore we can evolve quickly in line with what customers want or need”.

Standaard Boekhandel also likes to see this vision of the future in its partners. “That’s how it is with Mollie”, said Mario. “They don’t say ‘this is what we offer and that’s it’, then leave it at that for 10 years. What they do say is that they are also looking to the future. They look at what the market needs for today and tomorrow. They think about new applications. We place great importance on this type of mentality”.

“Mollie is also looking to the future, just like us”

Mario Dewarier B2B Manager at Standaard Boekhandel

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“There will come a point where we’re cheaper than our biggest competitor: your washing machine at home.”— Maurits Tiethoff, dobbi