“A transformational partnership”: How VTEX and Diginius are helping Lawpack leap into the digital age
“Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” – and quite possibly, signing a contract. Each and everyone of us will get into a legal agreement at some point in our lives, whether it’s due to employment, opening a business, purchasing or selling property, getting married (and/or divorced) or writing a will. This has ascertained the growth of the UK legal market, already valued at over £35 billion, by 5 to 6% per annum until 2022.
While we don’t foresee solicitors running out of business anytime soon, there’s another sector servicing clientele as a more affordable alternative to hiring lawyers: the DIY legal market, in which Lawpack has led since 1993.
Already an established business across the pond, Thomas Coles, Founder and Managing Director, saw a chance to bring high-quality legal services to the UK at an affordable price. Twenty seven years later, Lawpack has grown to be the country’s leading DIY legal publisher, opening the doors to both homegrown and foreign competition. Today, the DIY legal market is estimated to be valued between £250 to £350 million annually.
Lawpack’s solicitor-approved legal guides, kits and forms were traditionally distributed through high street retailers. While these channels still represent the majority of their total sales, over fifteen years ago Coles launched the Lawpack website using technology he built and maintained in-house. Although the website had e-commerce functionality, this was not developed further as they did not want to compete with their distributors. In recent years, however, the closures of physical stores and post offices made them rethink their strategy and look at solutions to future-proof their operations.
Going digital with Diginius
Last year, Lawpack started working with Diginius, a software and solutions provider that specialises in increasing their customers’ online sales and marketing activities. Lawpack started utilising Diginius’ data-driven software Diginus Insight to manage and optimise their pay-per-click (PPC) and search campaigns, as well as their marketplace distribution to drive traffic and purchases online. After seeing good results, Lawpack decided to outsource their digital strategy to Diginius with the intention of transforming their website into a formidable sales channel. “We decided to work with Diginius due to their expertise in this space, and the imperative to sell online,” said Coles.
One of the first tasks was to replace their archaic proprietary technology with a flexible, yet cost-effective solution that can help them introduce new products and business lines easily. Of utmost importance was to find a way to engage with their customers more, as they were missing out on cross- and up-sell opportunities with their half a million customers annually. As almost all of their customers were acquired offline, the only way they can do this is through an email list they built through the years. Lawpack also wanted to make sure that their clients have the latest version of their contracts, but their previous system relied on the customer downloading updates from their website, by inputting a generic code found on their legal packs. Aside from these, being in the legal field they needed assurance that whichever solution they adapted had to have the highest levels of security.
A seamless omnichannel transformation
Knowing their requirements, Diginius recommended VTEX, as they have previously worked with the unified commerce platform on other clients such as Thomas Lyte, Joy and Anatomic Shoes. VTEX Commerce Cloud’s multi-tenant SaaS platform is flexible enough to accommodate the pace of change Lawpack required, and its Level 1 PCI-certified status complied with their desire to be on a truly secure technology.
Diginius recommended building the website on VTEX’s serverless development platform VTEX IO, where they developed modular components to cater to the specificities of Lawpack’s operation. VTEX IO’s Store Framework was used to create Lawpack’s front-end, while the platform’s headless APIs enabled Diginius to easily replace Lawpack’s old accounting system with Xero.
Lawpack’s omnichannel requirements differed slightly from a traditional digital content business. While they offer customers digital contracts they can download immediately, some still prefer legal documents to be delivered to them by courier from Lawpack’s distribution centre in London. VTEX Commerce Cloud’s OMS allows Lawpack to manage digital and physical sales from their own site and other online marketplaces, while having a single view of the customer’s purchase history. The OMS’s clienteling feature is starting to help Lawpack to deliver better customer service, while enabling their customers to manage their own orders directly via their online account.
VTEX Commerce Cloud has a number of features that Lawpack intends to take advantage of. For instance, the Recurrences module inside the OMS could effortlessly power subscriptions, potentially opening new B2B opportunities with smaller businesses for employment contracts, and estate agents for tenancy agreements. If they choose to do so, Lawpack can pivot into an online marketplace to connect solicitors and consumers through VTEX’s native Marketplace platform. Not only is this interesting from a new business perspective, but they can also decrease overhead and shorten supplier payment cycles by implementing split payments.
Just in time
Lawpack went live with their new website in May 2020, and this could not have come at a better time. Like most countries, the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was to shut down all non-essential retail businesses which greatly affected Lawpack’s primary distribution channels.
Having an online store was not just a means to future-proof but a lifeline in today’s peculiar circumstances. Prior to the lockdown, digital represented 10% of their total sales; this has now risen to 30%. Coles is expecting their online sales to grow 100% year-on-year.
Looking into their recent sales data also offers a snapshot of society in this moment in history. Direct-to-consumer sales are rising steadily. With regards to their products, they have seen an increase in demand for separation and divorce agreements, wills and powers of attorney documents, while tenancy agreements and other property-related documents have declined in the recent months.
While historically Lawpack’s clientele skewed towards an older demographic, Coles is also predicting a shift in his audience as a result of the change, giving Lawpack more possibilities to grow with their customer base. “Working with VTEX and Diginius has truly been a transformational partnership,” said Coles. “I believe we will go completely digital and focus on downloads in the next five years. With a platform like VTEX and Diginius’ expertise we’ll be well-positioned to achieve this.”
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