Shifting Business Up Several Gears
Going from selling a few items on eBay to becoming a large specialty online retailer in just a few years sounds like every business owner’s dream. But setting up an e-commerce store used to be a nightmare.
It was costly, time-consuming, technical and finding the right partners was a challenge. But Jonathon Allara and James van Rooyen have found there’s a better way to take their business online – and to the next level.
First Gear: Find your niche
Jonathon and James’ first business together was a small bicycle rental and tour company in Manly. Spotting a gap in the market for an affordable online bike store, they decided to test the waters with an eBay store and it was a hit. In 2011 they took the plunge and launched their online store, Bicycles Online.
Second Gear: what's holding you back?
The store was going well, so well, that they soon encountered growing pains when their ecommerce platform couldn’t keep up with demand.
For starters, customer orders came from different warehouses and they needed a system capable of accurately managing stock and fulfilling orders across multiple locations. “It’s complex stuff, but it’s critical to get it right,” says Jonathon. “Let’s say your stock isn’t synchronised across your brick and mortar and online stores and one item gets sold in two places at once. Now that’s a big problem for you and your customers.”
Third Gear: Get the right solution
Until recently, the solution to this problem was neither easy nor affordable, with some solutions leaving you with no change from $250,000. “We couldn’t afford those sorts of costs. And thankfully we didn’t need to spend anywhere near that amount." explains James. "With Neto, we got our hands on enterprise level customisation at a SME price point. It’s a groundbreaking platform that’s far more powerful than the competition, because it has an inbuilt inventory management system. That means there’s no risk of errors like those doubled up sales orders.”
Fourth gear: Get set up – quick smart
Tight time constraints are a common challenge facing businesses.
- How do you grow your business when you are so busy working in it?
- How do you build an online store?
- Where will you find all the right business partners required to make it happen?
- Who can you trust to understand your needs and meet them?
Despite requiring a custom template and a complex back-end solution from Neto, taking Bicycle Online to the next level was quick and stress-free. Jonathon explains, “And because we were dealing with an Aussie company there was no time lag and nothing got lost in translation; that made things so much easier.”
Fifth Gear: Killer customer experience
Online customer service is vital. “It’s a fallacy that you can’t deliver exceptional customer service online; with Neto, we ensure our customers get a premium shopping experience - "from choosing the right product to sending it back if they aren’t happy.” Neto tailors the shopping experience to a customer’s preference and because it seamlessly integrates with Aussie freight providers, order fulfilment time is halved.
With Neto, customer service is even more exceptional. The team can recognise customers by their phone number and have access to their full history at their fingertips. “The days of having to ask a customer to provide a receipt as proof of purchase are gone,” says Jonathon. “And Neto even helps with customer retention by sending a series of emails triggered by certain events.”
Top Gear: Go next level
In a world where the customer is king, this kind of service has got to be good for business, but it’s not the only reason the guys credit Neto for their exceptional business growth of 35-40% year on year.
“Neto lets us easily take the business to the next level so that we don’t lose focus on what we’re good at – designing and selling bikes. And because Neto is scalable, we can be confident that we can grow our business without changing platforms. What’s more, we can do it all without even having a developer on site,” explains Jonathon.
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