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Retail Success Story: King Street Cyclery

May 29th, 2013

Category: ERP Enterprise Resource Planning, Online Retailing, Point Of Sale Systems, Retail Selling

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Company Background – King Street Cyclery

King Street Cyclery first opened its doors in 1979 and was a small bike shop at the top end of King Street, Newtown in Sydney. Back then only a handful of cycling enthusiasts were game enough to ride the streets of Sydney, braving bus fumes and city traffic. Since then the cycling community has grown in leaps and bounds with the full support of councils, State and Federal Government and cycling organisations.

King Street Cyclery has also grown with the cycling community and today its main shop and showroom, selling bikes and accessories is 10 times the size of the original shop and includes a workshop at the back. The business also has another location in Marrickville which operates mainly as a repair centre and bike accessory shop.

In April 2011, King Street Cyclery implemented Creative Computing’s Online Store module which is integrated into their CONTROL Retail Management System that they had been using for 20 years, (including upgrades as the system continues to be enhanced in line with modern retailing requirements).

Challenges

Like most Australian retailers, the cycling retail sector has been doing it tough in the last few years, though King Street Cyclery was suddenly faced with a more severe challenge in 2011.

At 9pm on September the 20th a fire broke out in the adjacent building, a commercial laundry service. Unfortunately as firemen worked for three hours to contain the blaze, King Street Cyclery suffered water damage and consequently had to shut shop for eight months until the building could be repaired and renovated.

This unforeseen challenge saw the family-owned business regroup to minimise loss of revenue by moving all bike products to their second store which previously was more of a repair centre and accessory shop. At the same time, they also looked to their online store as a way to sell more products and communicate the alternative location for bike sales and pick-ups.

“At this stage we had been utilising CONTROL’s online store for almost six months and we knew we needed to maximise online sales especially as Christmas trading was less than three months away,” said Edward Lancaster, the son of the owners and main user of CONTROL’s online store module.

The Solution

The CONTROL online store module from Creative Computing provides sophisticated ecommerce capabilities. Retailers decide on the look and feel of their website adding their own branding and imagery. They also choose what payment gateway they want to use as well as delivery options. All product groups and item details are loaded in bulk from CONTROL. Once this is done, the online shop is ready to start taking orders. This is more or less how King Street Cyclery implemented their online store.

“What’s interesting is that you might think selling bikes online isn’t necessary, or possible, for one major reason,” says Edward. “Due to dealer agreements and liability licensing (safety issues where an incorrectly assembled bike proven to cause an accident can lead to a manufacturing being sued), you can’t sell a bike ‘in a box’. And bikes come in various sizes so we also have to ensure the customer has the right size. So while you can purchase online, the buyer has to pick up their bike instore or have it personally delivered by the bike retailer after assembling it.”

Even with these conditions, when King Street Cyclery decided to sell their bikes and bike accessories online, customers were very willing to make a purchase without first viewing a bike at the bricks and mortar stores.

Major Benefits

Give customers the convenience of shopping 24/7

One of the benefits of having an online store, according to Edward, is the convenience factor. “Even though we’re still very much a traditional bricks and mortar retailer, we’ve come to terms with how people want to shop today. We’ve realised that a lot of people are busy during 9-5. So we give them the option to research or buy our products in the evening, whether 10pm or 3am,” says Edward. “In their mind, they’ve saved a lot of time because all that’s left to do is pop into the shop to pick up the item or have it delivered.”

Advertise your bricks and mortar shops via your online store

After the fire forced the main shop to close for a while, its bikes had to be moved to their second, much smaller location. The business owners then conducted promotions on their online store to drive people to the second store, such as ‘fire sales’ (pun intended) and ‘car park’ sales – (bike overflow meant bikes were being sold at the front entrance/car park of the Marrickville location).  This mitigated some loss while also increasing online trade especially during the 2011 Christmas trading period for those customers that didn’t want to shop instore.

Edward also regularly checks Google traffic stats and makes an interesting observation: “I’ve noticed that a lot of times, if we have say, 100 people visit our online store on Friday night, Saturday trading instore is very busy. However, if there aren’t a lot people visiting us online on a Friday evening, the shop isn’t busy on the Saturday.”

Attract new customers and sell related products

The business has also seen their customer base increase and widen beyond the general Sydney metropolitan region due to their online presence. “It’s interesting that some of our customers are now coming from the Central Coast, Wollongong and Blue Mountains,” says Edward.

Additionally, having an online store is very good if you sell product accessories, and bikes come with a multitude of them, most of which are small enough to be packed and shipped at low-cost. This is reflected in the strong sales that King Street Cyclery is seeing online for its accessories.

As products are sold, inventory levels are automatically updated across all stores

For King Street Cyclery, one of the biggest benefits is that CONTROL’s online store module is fully integrated into the CONTROL retail system which means managing inventory is easy. “Before we implemented the CONTROL online store, we tried another e-commerce system, but because it was a standalone piece of software, we had to manually update changes to inventory, and this was time-consuming and prone to error. However, with the CONTROL Online Store it’s all automatic. If we sell a product online, it’s immediately taken off the store stock level. And if we sell the last of something on the shopfloor it is no longer shown as available on our online store. This also helps us maintain great customer service as the worst thing you can do to a customer is show a product is available when it isn’t.”

Conversely, if new stock is added to the inventory module it automatically appears on the Online Store without King Street Cyclery needing to rekey the information into their website.

Another side benefit of utilising a fully integrated Online Store is that any new customer details captured via online trading are automatically added to the CONTROL customer database to be used by the integrated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) module.

Conclusion

Looking back, Edward reflects that the fire, while a painful experience, was also an opportunity to make some changes to the business and take it to the next level. The new expansive shop interior is airy and light-filled showcasing bikes and accessories against bare brick walls and sustainable timber flooring that came from an eco-forest. While it’s a fresh start to a mature business, King Street Cyclery hasn’t so much reinvented itself to fit new retailing demands but rather continues to do what it has always done well: create a wonderful and inviting customer experience regardless of whether the shopper wants to buy instore or online.

IN BRIEF: King Street Cyclery

Business owners: Adrian and Robyn Lancaster

Type of business: bicycles, bicycle accessories and bike repairs

No of products: 9,000

No of years’ operating: 33 years

No of staff: 12

No of physical stores & workshops: Two (Newtown and Marrickville, Sydney)

Websites: www.kingstreetcyclery.com.au , www.bikerepairs.com.au

IN BRIEF: Supporting Retail Software

System: CONTROL Retail Business Solutions, from Creative Computing

Year implemented CONTROL Retail Management System: 1990

Modules utilised: Integrated POS, Inventory Management, Sales Analysis, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and CONTROL Online Store

No. of users: 15

Website: www.creativecomputing.com.au

To find out how CONTROL Retail Management system can help you succeed online or instore, contact us, or phone Bernie Hogan on 1300 646 536.