99 Bikes Cruises Toward Growth as Bicycle Sales Pick Up Speed

Man riding bicycle in beautiful country.

Image source: 99 Bikes.

In 2007, 99 Bikes opened its first bicycle shop in Brisbane. Thirteen years later, it now operates 49 stores across Australia and an e-commerce site with 5,000 products. While the retailer was no stranger to growing a business, it’s online sales still represented a fraction of its total sales. As the COVID-19 pandemic triggered an unprecedented demand for its bikes, the team scrambled to shift operations to online only.

“With gyms and beaches closed, cycling is a great way for people to stay active while practicing social distancing,” says Owen McLeod, digital leader at 99 Bikes. “I guess everyone was thinking the same thing because our website traffic and online sales exploded in the space of a few days.”

99 Bikes saw record sales in April 2020, selling as many as 1,500 bikes per day. Online revenue for the month reached AU$3.1 million—more than double the previous December, which is typically its biggest sales month. And online sales rose from 5% of total company revenue to 11% almost overnight.

The retail chain had to adapt quickly. The company stepped up customer communications around stock availability as supply and shipping delays arose. The retailer’s brick-and-mortar stores adjusted their hours to give employees more time to assemble bikes for customers. They hired 200 new employees and enforced strict cleaning policies to keep people safe. Online, the retailer also needed to set clear expectations with customers about delivery timelines and make the online-ordering process as smooth as possible.

99 Bikes sets a new pace for e-commerce

With an e-commerce site built on Magento Commerce, 99 Bikes was able to make several improvements to the shopping experience–quickly. The company added a guest checkout option and made it clearer upfront what kind of personal information was required to complete a purchase. It also ran a banner across the top of its site and linked it to a COVID-19 update page with information on online orders, click-and-collect, shipping, and store operations.

99 Bikes even managed to complete a planned upgrade to Magento Commerce 2.3 near the end of April. “There’s never a perfect time to upgrade, so we decided to go ahead with it,” Owen says. “Besides, it gives us the opportunity to start taking advantage of new Magento features—particularly multi source inventory management.”

Going forward, 99 Bikes knows what it needs to do to stay successful. “COVID-19 made it clear that we need to focus on the basics, not being distracted by bells and whistles,” Owen says. “That means directing traffic to the website, making sure product descriptions are compelling, removing the friction from online purchases, and providing great customer service if things go wrong.”

Using that approach, 99 Bikes is certain to keep growing, through the pandemic and beyond.

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