With shopping moving online, it is not uncommon to see brick-and-mortar retailers moving to the ecommerce area. However, not all brands have managed to move online and boast a 100% increase in sales in less than six months.
Meet tokyobike. The independent bicycle business was established in 2002 in the quiet suburb of Yanaka, Japan, and made its way to america in 2014. The business is currently headquartered in Los Angeles, which is where we sat down with Juliana Di Simone, tokyobike’s Partner in America, to examine their trip to selling online.
The ethos behind the in-store encounter
The tokyobike brand is inspired by the clean, minimalist aesthetic of Japanese design and pays homage to the “Tokyo Slow” movement–an emphasis on comfort over speed and a nod to simpler times. Their stores are intended to reflect this opinion. Together with the open area, subdued colours, and thoughtfully-curated merchandising, clients are encouraged to explore the shop at their leisure.
Purchasing a bicycle is extremely private, explains Juliana. She adds,”[They have ] traditionally been bought in person. You need to see them, touch them, ride them. See if what you are buying will actually fit your needs.”
In actuality, tokyobike’s devotion to their in-store encounter is so integral to the brand’s ethos that the creators initially had no intention of selling online–they did not think they would have the ability to mimic the experience or the high-touch support.
Up until 2015, tokyobike functioned as a brick-and-mortar, exclusively. But when their employees could no longer support the influx of foot traffic in their bustling SoHo store in nyc, they knew they needed to give an alternative for their clients.
Compounding this change was a challenge specific to its flagship product: tokyobike’s purchase travel was more than is typical for many direct-to-consumer brands. At $900 apiece, their bikes are not an impulse purchase. Bikes are a long-term investment and frequently a reflection of one’s personal preference, so people take their time researching their options before making a purchase.
This was not a problem for local shoppers, who could come back to the store once they had made their mind up. But out-of-towners and tourists did not have the exact same luxury. Rather, they would typically test-ride a few bicycles in-store, encounter one they loved, only to return home without a simple way to finalize their purchase.
All roads lead to ecommerce
In the beginning, tokyobike’s sales partners tried to fix this issue by writing emails and names on the back of business cards for shoppers to take home. This enabled tokybike’s staff to follow up with a statement and credit card authorization form via email, and gave prospective customers the opportunity to purchase the product. But this manual procedure was time-consuming, fraught with error, and introduced the joys of paperwork to what should be an exciting purchase.
“When you are a small team, time really matters. . .If your team is removed from things that grow the company to perform little, laborious things, you want to locate tools which make it easier. . .If you are looking to scale, you must locate platforms and systems that can help you do these things,” Juliana informs us.
Launching an internet shop was the clear next step for the merchant. However, maybe not all platforms are created equal, and in three decades, the cracks were starting to show.
“We knew there were things we wanted to do this we could not, and that is mostly due to the way we meet our orders and how we wanted the online experience to be. We thought somewhere in there we were probably losing customers,” says Juliana.
They had something more robust.
Accepting Shopify for a test ride
In ancient 2019, only six months later moving onto Shopify, online sales would surpass tokyobike’s brick-and-mortar sales, together with the physical places being used for test-rides only.
For Juliana, the synergy between their storefronts–as well as the function tokyobike’s physical spaces could come to play in driving online sales–was an unexpected, but welcome change in the corporation’s business model.
And the connection is a two-way road. Juliana shares a normal situation where a customer purchases a bicycle online and chooses to pick it up in-store. Once they’re at the shop, they may realize that they need a lock, and a helmet, and perhaps a bell. All of a sudden, an internet purchase has driven in-store earnings, also.
The thought that each station should match and influence the other to nurture customers through the sales cycle is the basis of a unified trade strategy, and in the end, the goal for each retailer.
Switching from Lightspeed into Shopify POS
The journey toward a harmonized online and offline experience was not without hiccups. “Until recently, we have always had distinct point-of-sales and another platform for our online shop,” admits Juliana.
When they switched to Shopify’s ecommerce solution, they chose to change their Lightspeed point-of-sale (POS) systems to Shopify POS, also. The different systems were producing a messy experience–from minor frustrations, such as being unable to redeem gift cards across sales channels, to larger issues, such as the inability to view inventory across places.
“There are hardly any steps with Shopify. It’s a one-click type of thing.”
“We incorporated everything, it simply made more sense logistically to have everything at exactly the exact same location. Especially because sometimes, we will have clients that are interested in things which we only have in-store. So in the event you will need a new pair of wheels, we do not have those on the site. . .but we can easily email a cart into a customer with items which are only in the shop and they can finish that purchase as though it was an internet sale,” explains Juliana.
For multi-location retailers such as tokyobike, obtaining an up-to-date stock that could be transferred on demand, with flexible payment and fulfilment choices is often a turning point.
When asked about her team’s expertise with Shopify’s retail technology, Juliana says the platform’s ease-of-use was a huge selling point. “With regards to our group, I think everyone thought it was way easier. The transition was really really, really simple for all of us. There are hardly any steps with Shopify. It’s a one-click type of thing.”
Reserve your seat today
The group has also benefited from a faster checkout experience since moving to Shopify POS. “Our transaction times are far quicker now. From the moment you choose which bicycle you’re likely to buy, to really inserting your card or tapping your phone, is a considerably shorter time period than it was before,” adds Juliana.
Past ease-of-use, Shopify’s unified platform enabled tokyobike to supply their clients with a consistently delightful experience across every touchpoint, remaining true to the brand’s roots, and their devotion to white-glove support.
The future of commerce is merged
It is impossible to think of retail as different. . .this idea of merged retail is the future.
Today, customers can start and finish their travel with tokyobike where and whenever they want.
“It is impossible to think of retail as different. You have to have the ability to bring the physical to the electronic, and the electronic to the physical. From an experience standpoint, but also concerning systems. Connecting the two is vital. . .this idea of merged retail is the future,” says Juliana.
The business continues to use its brick-and-mortar places as a showroom for its own products –an chance to get in front of new customers that are intrigued by their exquisite storefronts, and to offer potential customers the choice of experiencing their specific products anytime before ordering online.
For the folks that aren’t prepared to buy on the spot, tokyobike’s sales partners are able to keep the dialogue going by re-engaging those shoppers online with cart reminders and e-gift card provides.
Across the board, this strategy has helped them boost sales and scale across america. Since switching over to Shopify, tokyobike doubled their online sales in under six months, and shrunk their sales cycle from 14-30 daysdown to one week. Their brick-and-mortar presence is growing too, with 13 flagship locations around the world, including shops in London, Berlin, Bangkok, and Mexico City.
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