Posted by Ranga Bodla, Head of Industry Marketing, NetSuite
Calum Davidson, Cofounder of 7mesh, knows his company’s goal of becoming one of the most respected brands in performance biking apparel starts with making a great product, but that ultimately requires getting that product in front of customers. And as independent, B2B-focused brands like 7mesh jockey for space in bike shops against larger outdoor brand distributors, they’re rethinking traditional wholesale distribution models and shifting more focus on selling direct to consumers.
“Independent bike shops are less able to take a risk on a smaller, emerging B2B brand,” Davidson said. “We have amazing products that we still need to get out there.”
As hundreds of bike brand distributors like 7mesh (Booth #12188) prepare to head to Las Vegas for the annual Interbike International Bicycle Exposition on September 21—the industry’s biggest trade show of the year—they need to evolve the business so this new reality is top of mind. This year’s educational session schedule is packed with seminars on social media, ecommerce, customer experience, the evolution of the customer base, and boosting customer loyalty. It seems nearly everyone is at least considering entering or expanding B2C ecommerce and leveraging so-called disruptive technologies to create the types of personalized experiences that deepen brand loyalty.
In a community with a viral passion for sharing tips and advice online about the latest gear and trends, innovative social media and customer-facing strategies aimed at enticing B2C growth are crucial. But to truly deepen brand loyalty – particularly in a space where customers see the products as an extension of themselves—bike distributors first need to ensure their interaction with the brand is consistently reliable and relevant across all channels. And to do that, they need solid transactional systems and good data.
Start with a solid foundation
Like so many in the retail and distribution space, far too many bike brands are focused on gussying up customer-facing experiences, while their back-end systems remain a tangled web of manual processes and loosely coupled legacy systems. Because there are different versions of the truth in different systems, they lack an enterprise-wide view of inventory needed to reliably promise products, in both the B2B and B2C context. And with customer data sitting in separate systems, there isn’t a view of previous orders needed to build personalized outreach or gain insight needed to fine-tune product development.
The hard truth is, no amount of investment in bells and whistles on the front-end will matter much to the customer if the information governing the sale isn’t correct on the back-end, and the customer can’t get what he or she needs in an acceptable time frame. Smart retail brands like 7mesh realize that in order to move at the pace of today’s customer demands, they need to start with a solid, transactional base.
7mesh gains competitive advantage from unified, cloud-based platform
7mesh was borne of its founders’ love for cycling coupled with their dissatisfaction with existing gear. With decades of experience making outdoor technical apparel, they set out to make products with streamlined design that are always light, durable, functional and beautiful.
When 7mesh launched the brand in 2013, a key focus was on technology as an enabler for growth. With a single system for financials, sales, order and inventory management processes, it has a single source of the truth to create reliable customer experiences that build customer loyalty and springboard growth. In addition, 7mesh opted for a cloud-based platform that would allow it to forgo time-consuming and costly IT administration and focus on its core competencies. It implemented NetSuite to run a global business and end-to-end operations, including financials, inventory and order management, managed by five full-time and two part-time staff. The system handles multi-currency transactions in Canadian and US dollars, Euros, British Pounds and Swiss Francs. 7mesh products are now sold in more than 14 countries and at more than 100 brick and mortar retailers.
When it decided to expand B2C ecommerce in 2015 with NetSuite SuiteCommerce, 7mesh had a single source of customer, order and inventory data on its back-end seamlessly integrated with the front-end for reliable and relevant customer experiences. With robust ecommerce processes, 7mesh is not only growing online sales, but giving itself more opportunities to increase its reach in brick and mortar stores that don’t yet carry its products, as passionate customers who bought the products online then evangelize them to their favorite local bike dealers. Sales to distributors are still manual, but 7mesh has the foundation and plans to expand B2B ecommerce as well.
Don’t get boxed in by legacy systems
With a single view across operations and robust reporting to easily consume the data, Davidson and his fellow founders can easily spot trends and have the ability to dive deeply into the data for specific analysis and reporting to fix potential problems. 7mesh spends less time on back office processes, and can focus on its goals—being one of the most respected brands in the biking industry and bringing more jobs to the bedroom community of Squamish, British Columbia where its headquarters are located.
For more information on how leading bike brands like 7mesh are using NetSuite, please visit us at Interbike at CatEye’s Booth #11095 and plan to join us for Happy Hour on Sept. 22 from 5-6 p.m. and read more customer stories on our Outdoor and Sporting Goods Industry Landing Page.