Richard Smith, EMEA regional director at Myagi, tells Rebecca Morley how the platform connects brands, distributors and retailers in order to share knowledge
With the complexity of the cycling industry and the technical nature of the products within it, there is a need for more measurable ways to share knowledge to drive sales. Based in San Francisco but with an EMEA HQ in Birmingham, Myagi is a “knowledge supply chain” platform that connects brands, distributors and retailers, designed to allow them to collaborate, communicate and educate.
It aims to provide sellers with the right intel at the right time to create good customer experiences and improve sell-through. “Simon Turner is our founder,” Richard Smith, EMEA regional director at Myagi explains. “He was a distributor of products for several brands, and one of the responsibilities he had was training store staff. The consistent problem that he had within this business was selling a technical product or indeed a product that was an add on sale – something that people didn’t necessarily come into the store looking for.
“It was really important that the staff in the store understood the product, were passionate about it and knew how to recommend and suggest it to customers. He found that every time he did an in-store training session, his sales would go up, but one of his biggest challenges was that he just didn’t have the resources to be in every store all the time doing training. The creation of Myagi was really about him trying to solve his own problem.”
Knowledge supply chain
Myagi seeks to help global brands disseminate the information that they need down through their supply chain. It isn’t just about brands sharing with sales associates, it’s also about global brands training their distributors on the products. Those distributors are then able to train local stores in their market, and so Smith says Myagi uses the phrase ‘knowledge supply chain’. “It’s a very visual way of thinking about what we do – everybody can visualise their own supply chain as a brand,” Smith continues. “We’re not interested in the physical product and how that moves, but the information that needs to go with it.
“We look at the industry and we see what we call knowledge dilution, or knowledge blockages, or a lack of knowledge retention. You can think of Myagi as a tool for retail stores to rebalance the online, e-commerce, access to information, easy access to products by supercharging their one big USP, which is the actual staff that they have on the shop floor. We’ve had a very long relationship with the cycle industry because we work best with industries that have a lot of products, a lot of brands and a very technical story to tell.”
No stranger to the cycling industry, Myagi already has partnerships with various notable brands such as Orbea, Accell Group, Rocky Mountain, Jamis Bikes and Felt Bikes, who are currently active users of the platform. For FSA, Vision, and Prologo, who have recently selected the company as their new digital brand education platform, Myagi will be a key lever in a larger project focused on improving relationships with their channel partners and knowledge delivery throughout their supply chain right down to the sales floor.
The first phase of the project will focus on training distributors and their reps. Before products even hit the sales floors and sales reps even have the opportunity to hit retail locations, the three brands hope to improve brand education much further up in the supply chain. All companies are prioritising the improvement of the education process with distributors to help ensure that all key members are delivered with consistent product/brand messaging and fully educated before both the product and training travel further down the supply chain.
It is not until the second phase where the company pair plans to roll out across their partner retailers. Similar to others already using Myagi, FSA, Vision and Prologo intend on leveraging the platform to improve communication and strengthen relationships with their retail partners. “Because we take an industry approach, any brand that joins introduces us to their distributors and introduces us to their retailers, and any retailer that joins introduces us to their brands because they want their brands to be using the platform,” Smith explains. “We see a huge opportunity for the cycle industry to improve the way it shares knowledge and we think that one of the challenges that IBDs face is that they all think training’s important but very few of them put enough time and effort into it.
“If bike shops really understand the way in which retail has shifted, and that focus needs to be on store experience, we’re no longer in an era where the sales associate has all the knowledge and the customer is naive. We’re in a world where the consumer is empowered with all the information that they ever need, so to take advice from a sales associate, that employee needs to be at least as equally informed. If you think about where sales associates historically got their information from, most of it was the same sources that the consumer did.
“There just wasn’t an open enough channel for brands to be able to share their product information, their stories, to ensure that sales associates were talking about it in the right way.”
The current market
We simply cannot ignore the fact that the way people shop has changed – something that is not unique to the cycling industry. “For me, where we see the best examples of IBDs winning is around service and in-store experience,” Smith continues. “When somebody has experienced shopping in an Apple store, their expectations of shopping change. When they walk into their local bike store, they still want a great shopping experience.
“When you’re a multi-brand retailer like all IBDs are, the most efficient way to ensure your staff are providing the right experience for customers is to tap them into the knowledge that they need in order to do that.” Smith says Myagi’s ultimate goal is to help brands and retailers sell better together, seeing training as just the first component of how it can streamline that relationship.
“Some of the things that we’re looking at and already do are sales incentives and competitions,” Smith says. “How do reps communicate with stores? Everybody just uses email, but sales associates don’t use email for their job at work. That can be everything from coordinating POS for in-store or it can be about booking a physical visit. There are a million different things that brands and retailers need to collaborate and connect on.
“Then possibly even asset sharing in general. How do brands give retailers access to images, things that they need to help them, populate their website, run their business? There are a million different things that once this network is built that we can add on to it. People like FSA are going to be sharing content with all of its distributors. Those distributors not only carry FSA but many of them carry Prologo, we work with people like CeramicSpeed, with ABUS, and so those distributors will now start to be able to get content from multiple brands that they represent.
“We hope that those distributors then go to start sharing the same or different content with the retail stores so that we’ve mapped out the whole network from global brand down to retailer. There’s a common platform for the industry to share training and communication content in a much more accountable and efficient way.”
Myagi is free for IBDs to use and they can even use it for free as their internal LMS. “We don’t charge retailers,” Smith says. “But what’s amazing is how poor the uptake is. Myagi genuinely wants to see these businesses thrive and survive. But they’ve got to help themselves, they’ve got to do the right things to improve their businesses because we’re in a climate where bad retailers won’t survive. You’ve got to constantly look at what your consumer wants, and make sure that you’re delivering that. I fail to see how a free tool that helps you connect to brand content more easily, to help your staff become more knowledgeable, is anything but a really good thing.”