When shopping online, it is not uncommon for stationary retailers to move into the e-commerce area. But not all brands were able to move online in less than six months and saw a 100% increase in sales.
To meet tokyo bike, The independent bicycle company was founded in 2002 in a quiet suburb of Yanaka, Japan, and made its way to the USA for the first time in 2014. The company’s headquarters are now in Los Angeles. Here we got together with Juliana Di Simone, tokyobike’s, partner in America to discuss their trip to selling online.
The ethos behind the store experience
The Tokyobike brand is inspired by the clear, minimalist aesthetics of Japanese design and pays homage to the “Tokyo Slow” movement – a focus on comfort over speed and an indication of easier times. Your stores are designed to reflect that feeling. With the open space, the subdued colors and the sophisticated merchandising, customers can explore the business as they please.
Buying a bike is very personal, explains Juliana. She adds, “[They’ve] traditionally bought personally. You want to see, touch, ride them. Check that what you buy is actually what you need. ”
In fact, tokyobike’s commitment to its store experience is such an integral part of the brand ethos that the founders did not originally intend to sell online. They didn’t think they would be able to reflect the experience or the high-touch service.
Tokyobike was only stationary until 2015. But when their employees could no longer support the influx of pedestrian traffic in their busy SoHo business in New York City, they knew they had to offer their customers an alternative.
Tightening the shift was a particular challenge for the flagship: tokyobike’s purchase path was longer than most direct-to-consumer brands. At $ 900 a piece, your bikes are not a buying impulse. Bicycles are a long-term investment and often an expression of personal taste. Therefore, people take the time to explore their options before making a purchase.
This was not a problem for local buyers who could return to the store once they made their decision. But out-of-towers and tourists didn’t have the same luxury. Instead, they usually tested a few bicycles in the store, came across one they loved, and then returned home without being able to complete the purchase easily.
All roads lead to e-commerce
First, the tokyobike sales staff tried to solve this problem by writing names and emails on the back of the business cards so that buyers could take them home. This enabled tokybike employees to fill out an invoice and credit card authorization form by email, giving potential customers the opportunity to purchase the product. But this manual process was time-consuming, full of mistakes, and brought the joy of paperwork to an exciting purchase.
“When you are a small team, time is really important … If your team is deterred by things that make the business grow to do small, tedious things, you need to find tools that make it easier … If you are, if you want to scale, you really need to find platforms and systems that can help you do that, ”says Juliana.
Setting up an online shop was the next clear step for the retailer. But not all platforms are the same, and the cracks showed up in three years.
“We knew we wanted to do things we couldn’t, and that was mainly because of the way we filled our orders and how we wanted the online experience. We thought somewhere in there we were probably losing customers, ”says Juliana.
They needed something more robust.
Take a test drive with Shopify
In early 2019, just six months after moving to Shopify, online sales would exceed tokyobike’s brick-and-mortar stores, with physical locations increasingly being used only for test drives.
For Juliana, the synergy between the store fronts and the role that the physical areas of the Tokyobike would play in online sales was an unexpected but gratifying change in the company’s business model.
And the relationship is a one-way street. Juliana shares a typical scenario in which a customer buys a bike online and picks it up at the store. Once in the store, they may find they need a lock and helmet, and possibly a bell. Suddenly, online shopping has also pushed sales in the store.
The idea that each channel should complement and influence the other to drive customers through the sales cycle is the basis of a unified trading strategy and ultimately the goal for every retailer.
Switch from Lightspeed to Shopify POS
The path to a harmonized online and offline experience was not without problems. “Until recently, we always had different sales outlets and a different platform for our online shop,” admits Juliana.
When they switched to Shopify’s e-commerce solution, they decided to switch their Lightspeed POS systems to Shopify POS as well. The separate systems created a chaotic experience – from small frustrations such as not redeeming gift cards across sales channels to larger problems such as the inability to display inventory across locations.
By switching to the Shopify POS, tokyobike was able to synchronize its online shop with its physical shops and manage the entire company from one backend.
“With Shopify there are only a few steps to do. With just one click.”
“We integrated everything, logistically speaking it only made more sense to have everything in the same place. Mainly because sometimes we have customers who are interested in things that we only have in business. So if you need a new set of wheels, we don’t have them on the website … but we can do that easily Email a shopping cart to a customer with items that are only in the store and can complete this purchase as if it were an online sale, ”explains Juliana.
For retailers with multiple locations like tokyobike, it is often a turning point to have an up-to-date inventory that can be moved around as needed and has flexible payment and fulfillment options.
When asked about her employees’ experience with Shopify retail technology, Juliana said the usability of the platform was a big selling point. “Regarding our team, I think it was a lot easier for everyone. The transition was really, really easy for us. With Shopify, just a few steps are required. It’s one click thing. “
The team has also benefited from faster checkout processes since moving to Shopify POS. “Our transaction times are now much faster. From the moment you choose a bike until you insert your card or tap your phone, it takes a lot less time than before, ”adds Juliana.
Shopify’s unified platform was not only user-friendly, it also enabled tokyobike to offer its customers a consistently enjoyable experience at every touch point. They remained true to the brand’s origins and their commitment to white glove service.
The future of retail is uniform
It is impossible to think of retail as separate. This idea of single retail is the future.
Today, customers can start and end their journey with the tokyobike wherever and whenever they want.
“It is impossible to imagine retail as separate. You have to be able to bring the physical into the digital and the digital into the physical. From an experience perspective, but also in terms of systems. It is important to combine the two. .. This idea of single retail is the future, ”says Juliana.
The company continues to use its stationary locations as an exhibition space for its products – an opportunity to stand in front of new customers who are fascinated by their beautiful shop fronts and to give potential customers the opportunity to experience their unique products. Person before ordering online.
For people who are not ready to shop locally, tokyobike’s sales partners can keep the conversation going by re-engaging those buyers online with shopping cart reminders and e-gift card offers.
This strategy has helped across the board to increase sales and scalability in the United States. Since switching to Shopify, tokyobike has doubled its online sales in less than six months and shortened the sales cycle from 14 to 30 days to one week. With 13 flagship locations around the world, including stores in London, Berlin, Bangkok and Mexico City, the presence in stationary retail is also growing.
You could say they move with a pretty good clip.
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Photography courtesy of Tokyobike
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