The cycling industry is steeped in traditional retail, with the world’s oldest bike shop dating back to 1860 and still trading to this day.
But as retailers of all shapes and sizes turn to a digital future, it’s vital that the cycling industry doesn’t fall behind. As cycle retailers take the step from traditional retail to eCommerce, having an inventory management system that works hand in hand with your stock feed data and website is vital to digital success.
Below, Bradlie Houldsworth, Head of Strategy at Remarkable Commerce, shares his tips on how cycle retailers can keep up pace with the digital switch and the importance of stock feed integration.
Supplier cooperation will ensure quality in the final product
Supplier cooperation boasts a number of benefits but perhaps none greater than the impact it can have on the final product and service your customers will receive.
Cooperating with suppliers will also allow them to get a more in-depth view of your business and your specific needs as a cycle retailer. Working in a mutually beneficial relationship with a supplier, will not only reduce costs but also reduce the possibility of delays and quality control issues which in turn, will result in a better final service and product for your customer.
A key staple of the traditional bike shop is the tailored customer service it has provided for decades, so by cooperating with suppliers, cycle retailers will be able to ensure that tailored approach can continue in its expansion into the ecommerce market.
Strong supplier relations will allow for stock-feed integration to reap rewards
Cultivating strong supplier relations will allow the process of supplier stock-feed integration to be a much more beneficial process for you as a cycle retailer.
I spoke previously about the reduction in costs and delays, but what shouldn’t be forgotten is the effectiveness of stock feed integration in increasing other points of efficiency. As both the supplier and retailer gain greater insights into how your businesses work, communication will gradually improve and will reduce the frequency of delays and miscommunications.
A strong supplier-retailer relationship will also allow you to see potential issues and problems early before they develop further and cause more damage.
Stock feed integration will allow more up-to-date and accurate data
The primary goal for any cycle retailer is to ensure that you have sufficient stock levels to meet the demand and provide your customers with the best service possible. Accurate inventory management is essential for this and working with suppliers to integrate stock feeds will allow you to spot when certain bicycles or components are running low on stock with your suppliers and prepare appropriately.
Similarly to internal inventory management, accurate supplier stock feed data will allow you to prepare for supply shortages for certain products and in contrast, be well-equipped for surges in demand for others. Having inaccurate stock data, whether that be internal or external, runs the risk of understocking which can have a detrimental impact to your reputation as a retailer should customers’ orders be unable to be completed due to insufficient stock.
Ensuring you are getting accurate stock feed data from your suppliers is crucial and integration can help to bridge that gap. Overall it gives you a clearer picture of what you’re able to provide to your customers and importantly, keep them happy.
A well-stocked ecommerce offering will help attract traditional retail customers to your digital store
As we spoke about earlier, the reason your customers come back again and again is due to the fantastic service and products available in your store. Your ecommerce offering should be no different.
When customers visit your website, they’ll expect the same options they’d receive in-store so ensuring you have a bespoke ecommerce platform and accurate stock data showing the available products that your customers love, will strengthen their brand loyalty.
While traditional retail certainly has its place, more and more cycling brands are making the switch to the digital space as consumers are increasingly preferring the comfort and convenience of shopping online. A recent study by M-Cube found that almost half of 18-24-year-olds in the UK prefer shopping online as visiting physical stores increases their anxiety. Whether it is to safeguard their own mental health or if convenience is king, more consumers are shopping online and it’s vital to have an ecommerce offering fit for purpose.
Ensuring you are offering a well-stocked ecommerce offering will allow cycle retailers to continue serving their core business while opening up further opportunities.
Most bike brands offer a product and stock feed, which can be digested by your eCommerce platform and products dynamically imported onto your site. However, unfortunately, most feeds have a different format, either in their file type, their file layout, or the way the feed can be accessed. This is a big technical challenge for your eCommerce solution to retrieve many different feeds (for example, via API, Email, FTP or URL) and this configuration requires strong technical abilities and platform agility.
Stock feed integration can play a key role for cycle retailers if utilised correctly. Creating an ecommerce offering that works in tandem with suppliers will not only offer a better service to your existing customers but open you up to greater opportunities with new customers too. The value of having a greater insight into your business and your suppliers, shouldn’t be underestimated as we spoke about above, it boasts a number of benefits that cycle retailers can’t afford to ignore.