2020 was undoubtedly an unorthodox year, with independents, brands and distributors alike feeling the inevitable effects of a turbulent period for businesses the world over. BikeBiz caught up with seven UK distributors to reflect on a bizarre yet successful period for the cycling industry.
Today, we hear from Paul Elliot, director at Bob Elliot
2020 has been an extremely enjoyable challenge for us. We have seen unprecedented demand on the business from around April which has resulted in us urgently needing to adapt our model to cope and continue to support customers/suppliers with high-level service.
Communication has been absolutely key to this, and working closely with our supply network has resulted in us taking in more stock than ever before (despite recognised shortages) and extended working hours have allowed us to continue our reliable despatch service. Our hard-working team has allowed us to fare as well as we could have done, and collectively we continue to put plans in place for what lies ahead in 2021.
We haven’t lost any brands in 2020, albeit we have phased a couple of underperforming brands out of the portfolio. We have achieved a 150% increase in production on our own-build KX Wheels and have launched our own-brand KranX, which has been hugely successful. KX Wheels has been a necessary addition to our range in recent years and continues to grow on a steep upward curve with sales.
KranX has allowed us to support IBDs in ways we haven’t been able to before; by bringing bespoke products to the shops which allow a product to self-sell in consistently presented packaging. We have big growth plans for both in 2021 and we are signed off on many different projects already.
Behind the scenes
This year brought significant improvements to our B2B platform which now allows customers to manage their accounts even better than before with a 24-hour payment facility. This has given the customer more control and helped improve the B2B experience. In the coming months, we will also be launching a new filtered search platform to help the user find product on our website much more easily, where the user can define size, colour, flavour etc.
The IBD continues to be the focus in which we model a lot of decisions in our portfolio. Using our national sales network, we obtain weekly feedback for what the market demands. Our shift to offer workshop and service support in recent years came as a result of seeing a change in demand with the IBD and we continue to work hard with all of our brands to ensure product ranges suit IBDs in the best ways possible.
2021 and beyond
2021 already has big challenges lying ahead, but ones we are eager to embrace and adapt to. Our primary focus is to work to ensure stock is available on the shelf for customers. This would usually be bread and butter, but working on extended lead times which are now as much as 270 days (previously 60), we are structuring our purchasing in a way to receive more regular deliveries in much bigger quantities to support what we expect could be another great year for cycling in 2021!