You have a medium to high need for e-commerce. As booksellers with larger volumes of orders to place you can start with basic versions if you wish but given the volumes it would be sensible to consider services which are capable of handling whole files of orders at a time. This can be as simple as copying and pasting ISBNs into a web screen or using a more specialised service such as PubEasy/TRANSACT, Nielsen BookNet TeleOrdering or Nielsen BookNet Web’s API link. Alternatively, for the larger booksellers with high volumes of orders or invoices EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is ideal. This is more expensive than the web services but it can be integrated with your bookshop management systems and accounts systems and can handle very large volumes. EDI uses book industry standards and by following the rules and guidance from BIC (Book Industry Communication) you should be able to implement EDI and roll-out standardised EDI to many major trading partners. The following services are most suitable to your business.

e-commerce servicesMain FunctionCommentsPrice
PubEasy / TRANSACTSearch products and order on major affiliatesCentral services enables sending a file of orders for routing to correct affiliate. TRANSACT ideal for ordering larger volumes.Free
Nielsen BookNet Web (bulk update) or API link or TeleOrderingTeleOrderingTeleOrdering works with most EPOS systems and provides free software. Routing of orders to over 45,000 publishers, distributors and wholesalersTeleOrdering subscription is c. £500 p.a. invoices and authorise payments made via direct debitOnline version of Booksellers Clearing House (BCH) You can only pay invoices from Batch distributors. Batch can provide EDI messages as well as an online. serviceMore about BatchFree / ReturnsInput ISBNs to returnNew service now with over 200 retailers registered, 3 major distributors live, others in developmentMore about Batch ReturnsFree
Nielsen BookNet EDI ServiceExchanging EDI messages with trading partners. Messages include orders, invoices credit notes, returns etc.EDI is used widely by major stores, bookshop chains and supermarkets. Take advice from major trading partners and talk to Nielsen BookNetTraffic charge of about 5p per 1000 characters of data. Other charges for software etc.
FreewayCommerce EDI ServiceExchanging EDI messages with trading partners. Messages include orders, invoices credit notes, returns etc.EDI is used widely by major stores, bookshop chains and supermarkets. Take advice from major trading partners and talk to FreewayCommerceVarious payment plans are available

When comparing these services it is important to understand the scope of each service and how many suppliers can be accessed by each method so that you are not disappointed later. If the service is free then try it anyway or, if it is a subscription service, ask for a free trial. Then you can be sure that the service is suitable for your business before you buy. The Nielsen BookNet Web/TeleOrdering/EDI service is complex and offers a number of permutations which are difficult to describe here. There is also the possibility of connecting to other Nielsen services and getting discounts for bundled deals, so it would be best to contact Nielsen directly and talk through your needs with their staff. Visit Nielsen BookNet.

To do e-commerce properly you need to cover the following areas for as many trading partners as possible: orders, invoices and returns.

You should consider one of the following three options made up of combinations of suitable services:

Option 1: PubEasy/TRANSACT + Batch + Batch Returns

Ideal for medium to large general booksellers. These services are free to booksellers.

Option 2: Nielsen BookNet Web+ Batch + Batch Returns

Would suit a medium to large and more specialist independent bookseller who needs to order from a wider range of distributors. Note that Nielsen BookNet Web is a chargeable service (about £500 per annum).

Option 3: Full EDI

If you find that the volumes are too high to cope with using these combinations of web services, the recommendation is to go for full EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). This is what major chains and the large supermarkets use to trade with their suppliers. It is very important to take advice from an expert, from your systems supplier and from your major trading partners. EDI is significantly more expensive than the web services featured in this section but it can handle very large volumes of data. Your bookshop management system MUST be capable of integrating with EDI software (often deployed on a separate PC) in order to use EDI. Again you can use combinations of services e.g. you could use Nielsen BookNet Web to look up bibliographic data, you can place orders using TeleOrdering and then receive back EDI invoices from Nielsen BookNet EDI service or from


  1. If you mostly use wholesalers, first check your wholesaler’s web site and IVR (Interactive Voice Response/Recognition via the telephone) service. For more details contact your wholesalers: or These services are usually free if you are a customer of these wholesalers.
  2. The key to successfully implementing e-commerce and deriving maximum benefits from your investment is to integrate your e-commerce with your host systems so that re-keying of data is minimised. Always ask the e-commerce service provider how you could integrate his service to your system. (Don’t accept the answer: “Our service can integrate with your system”. Make sure they service really DOES integrate and ask about how and who is already doing so.)
  3.  Always talk to your systems supplier and your key trading partners early on in your research into e-commerce.
  4. Ideally before investing in a new system you should consider how capable that system is at e-commerce. For example there is little point having a great system but one which cannot talk to your trading partners efficiently.
  5. Pricing may be subject to change and so should be confirmed with the service provider concerned.

When you’ve digested all the information in this section and you feel that you want to talk to one of the e-commerce service providers, their contact details are below:

E-commerce service BookNetPubEasy
Telephone020 7802 080201772 6460000870 777 871001304 852177