The biking industry is alive with innovation. No more clearly was this on display than at the recently-concluded Interbike 2013, North America’s largest gathering of the bicycle industry to celebrate, educate and conduct the business of cycling.

As I walked the floor of the convention center. I was drooling over the innovation in the biking industry and the amazing technology – carbon frames, titanium gears, frames that look like spider webs and weigh less than a typical sandwich (yes, I was hungry when I was on the floor) and yet are strong enough to allow heavy riders to take on the toughest single tracks on a mountain bike. But what really amazed me was the global consumer, the utilization of distribution software, and manufacturing scope of the biking industry.  Side by side were companies from nations as diverse as Italy, Pakistan, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, China, and Taiwan, and even Portland :).

The themes were equally diverse – how to grow; the best ways to manage costs and whether to off-shore or not; manufacturing process innovations that have allowed carbon frames to get even lighter yet more robust; customer intimacy through omnichannel; and as always, how to best develop and manage the distribution networks. These are strategic discussions and interesting challenges.

In fact, the front-page discussion on National Bike Dealers Association (NBDA) is all about the Ecommerce challenge – one where price drives all consumer decisions, and yet, as we’ve written before, price, while important, is not the only driver.  So much is about customer services, life-time engagement, and perhaps maximization not of the initial/one-time sale but of the overall customer lifetime value (CLTV) that accounts for costs, revenues, and add-on opportunities, a point similar to one recently discussed in Bike Retailer.

It’s a pleasure for me to attend industry events like this where I have the opportunity to meet with our customers, partners, and prospects.  NetSuite sponsored last year’s event and again this year, announcing a number of very significant wins in the bicycling industry: 100%, JayBird, NutCase Helmets, Optic Nerve, Terry Bicycles, SIDI America, Niner Bikes, Nuun.  Not only did we sponsor the event but on Thursday night we "invaded" 100%’s booth, hosting an "intimate" gathering for more than 300 of our customers and prospects.

So what does NetSuite offer to the active lifestyle and biking industry companies (manufacturers, distributors, retailers, service bureaus)?  First of course is the foundational solution spanning financials, Ecommerce/retail, manufacturing, supply chain, and operations.  But the value goes beyond pure features and functions. Delivering our capabilities from the cloud, on-demand gives bike industry companies a real cost advantage – costs and benefits align, IT complexities are reduced, and all information becomes accessible to all authorized users in right-time – while traveling, in meetings, on the warehouse floor, or at the cash register.  Finally, the bike industry is innovating, growing [again], and diversifying into new brand categories such as e-bikes, a category that has doubled last year, our goal is to be at the forefront, delivering key capabilities, expanding our domain expertise, and helping our customers achieve their long-term growth and profitability goals.

To view photos from the event, please visit the NetSuite Facebook page.

Roman Bukary - VP and GM of Manufacturing and Wholesale / Distribution Industries