From an idea that started in a garage, BikeExchange has grown into a global enterprise
BikeExchange is the original online marketplace.
Founded some 12 years ago by lifelong, cycling-loving mates Jason Wyatt and Sam Salter, BikeExchange is now the world’s biggest online marketplace for everything bike. The 2012 National Telstra Business of the Year winner, its phenomenal growth spearheaded many other prosperous marketplaces now also owned by parent company Marketplacer.
As is the case for every pioneering story, however, the pathway to success encountered obstacles along the way.
It may seem inconceivable today, but the single biggest challenge facing the formative BikeExchange was cultural. Online marketplaces were still years away from entering the lexicon and few retailers believed the future for bikes was online.
…But a shift was occuring.
Australians were buying more bicycles than cars. Customers were beginning to get frustrated by the scale of the industry, its incredible fragmentation, and the perceived mess of wading through it all to find what they wanted.
Jason and Sam saw the opportunity to consolidate hundreds of retailers and the 800+ brands they represented onto a single online platform. This would make it easy for buyers to find them and the specific products they sold.
The epiphany came when the two realised that to be a truly great platform, BikeExchange had to become more than simply a market. It had to be the destination for anything and everything bike.
Establishing BikeExchange’s initial base of retailers – the earliest of early marketplace adopters – was no small feat. Bike retailers not only had to be store managers, they needed to be salespeople, marketers, accountants, PR practitioners, HR managers, deal negotiators, insurance experts, and grease monkeys. These operators had no time to add IT management to their CV. It was imperative BikeExchange be effortless, and data became the key inroad to achieving this.
The team realised early on that they could build databases of all cycling inventory and include the product EAN or UPC (unique codes). Through APIs they could then effectively sync up with stores’ electronic points of sale. The respective databases would identify shared EANs, and in essentially the flick of a switch the system would create seller adverts in the retailer’s marketplace account. Moreover, these adverts would reflect in real-time the store’s actual inventory. It was truly game-changing technology. The result? It eroded resistance from time-poor retailers and helped fast-track the marketplace’s scale worldwide.
It didn’t end there.
A sophisticated business and customer relationship management system, advanced analytics and reporting, and global scalability meant BikeExchange was becoming a platform that showcased all the hallmarks of a truly universally-successful marketplace.
The business was now thriving, but how did the real essence of BikeExchange take shape?
This was nurtured brilliantly by the blog, which has evolved into a publisher of premium quality advice, reviews, guides and news about everything bike. it is a highly valued go-to source, whether you’re after the latest road cycling Tour highlights or more information about a new release mountain bike’s specifications. Buyers are impressed they can come to the one site and buy, but also be informed beforehand. Sellers are delighted that the products they sell are objectively reviewed and championed.
Bike Exchange success
BikeExchange is lauded as one of the ultimate global online marketplace success stories, with ten local platforms now established around the world. Statistics read like a casebook study on what a marketplace can achieve. More than 1,000 brands are represented, 500,000+ products are listed and annual traffic exceeds 20-million.
BikeExchange’s growth, scale and impact on and for the industry is nothing short of phenomenal. The blog has played no small part in this; 15% of Australian traffic enters the platform through the Learn + Explore content and 178,000 users engage with the brand on social media.
“When you strip away data from the BikeExchange story you understand this has become a brand that is essentially a household name in the cycling community. Consumers intrinsically know to come here. Brands understand their marketing campaigns are more effective when BikeExchange is part of the mix. We can be at a cycling event anywhere in the world; from China to Colombia to California, and people will know our brand, or they’ll already be part of our community. It’s a remarkable and humbling achievement.”
-Jason Wyatt, Co-Founder