The Relationship Caretakers: Checking in with the New E-commerce Leadership

Our e-commerce team is giving their all to care for our relationships. The buyer's experience when purchasing a woom bike will evolve incrementally in the weeks and months to come, tailored ever more closely to the needs of our customers.

Our mission at woom is to foster a love for bike riding in children. Along with our efforts to build the perfect product, another matter of equal importance is our customers' experience and establishing a friendly and responsible relationship – from the very first contact until well beyond the purchase of the woom bike.

 

This is where our e-commerce team comes in, who are working hand-in-hand with our greatly expanded customer experience staff to shape this environment. "We want to forge a strong bond with our customers," says Jeff Harris, who recently took on the overall leadership of the e-commerce team, "Being on our website should be fun. We want it to be a place to answer the questions our customers need. And we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to find what they're looking for."

E-commerce evolution and focus

 

With his nearly 20 years of experience in e-commerce, Harris is a veteran who early on saw the possibilities of digital communication and the digital marketplace. This passionate golfer and outdoor sportsman has led direct-to-consumer (D2C) departments at brands like Polo Ralph Lauren, Bote, and Aqualung, leading those companies' efforts to market directly to consumers via their online shops.

 

"Digitalisation and mobile access to the internet have opened up enormous possibilities for online sales," says Harris, "COVID-19 has demonstrated to many people how practical it is to have products delivered right to their doorstep."

 

E-commerce is taking on an ever more critical role in our company. In the US, we're going all-in on the D2C market. In Europe, we're aiming for a mix of online business and our dealer network: "The real strength is combining the advantages of the different distribution systems strategically," says Harris, "There was a time when these two sales channels were on a competitive footing, almost like enemies. I think we've put that time behind us. Doing it well, you get a win-win, especially with a technical product, like a bike."

The platform that connects us with our customers

 

Many consumers can do quite well on their own if you give them online tutorials and a good service hotline. Others need the "human touch" when buying a product like a bike or seeking help with bike assembly or maintenance.

 

But, regardless of whether customers purchase their bikes online or from a dealer, says Harris, "We need a platform that connects us with our customers, a place where they can tell us about their product and how they use it, and where they can share what they need from us."

Team in Klosterneuburg and Austin

 

woom e-commerce director Harris is supported by a team of more than 20 employees based at the two company locations in Klosterneuburg near Vienna, and Austin, Texas.

 

There's a good reason why our e-commerce team comprises international specialists: Not everything that works well in the US can simply be implemented in Europe without modification.

 

Christian Schneider understands this well, who was appointed head of e-commerce in Europe last year. The young father (his daughter was born in the spring of 2020 and is already a proud rider of her own woom bike) draws on more than ten years of agency work as a digital marketing and e-commerce executive in the automotive industry. Schneider understands that delivering advertising to the right target groups along the customer journey – and, above all, the approach to privacy – is different in Europe than in the United States.

 

"We've noticed that younger people are less reluctant to provide personal information if companies use it to benefit those who provide it," says Schneider. "More and more customers tend to focus on the benefit when a shop suggests products that conform exactly to their preferences and when this saves them time otherwise spent searching."

Challenge: shipping times

 

A significant challenge in selling children's bikes (and for the bike business in general) – and this goes for 2022, as well – is the repeated delays in component shipments.

 

In the first quarter of 2022, we've been focused mainly on working off waiting lists as demand is so much higher than the supply. In 2022, woom wants to continue along with its path of exceeding 50 percent annual growth. The plan is to accomplish this by tapping new markets, optimizing processes, and taking pains to provide the best possible service.

 

Another aspect of this will be ratcheting up demand. Schneider says, "This year, for the first time, we'll be advertising, and we'll be completely overhauling our performance marketing agendas. That is something new for us insofar as, in the past, our high level of brand awareness has meant that we haven't had to be terribly active to reach our customers."

The best marketing tool: recommendations by satisfied parents

 

Both Harris and Schneider are unanimous in the assessment that the constant high demand for woom bikes has spoiled us for so many years. "Our bikes have been recommended by parents through word-of-mouth," says Schneider, "For years, that was our only marketing tool."

 

"The unique state of the bike industry – particularly here at woom – has perhaps made us a bit too complacent when it comes to potential customers on our website," says Harris. He says that it's been too easy for potential customers to jump ship. "But we have to develop an appreciation that every sale we miss out on is a lost sale. When we have a product that's not readily available, that's a lost customer."

Service mindset

 

What will woom customers find on the website in the future?

 

First and foremost, even better service. This shift begins with simple functions like registration, which makes it easier to find information on the customer's bike like warranty information, accessories, replacement parts, and assembly instructions.

 

Additionally, plans for expanded service offerings include a loyalty program with benefits for loyal customers and waiting list information via text message. This platform will be enhanced by technologies like augmented reality, which will one day help parents select the right bike for their child.

 

"From the very beginning, woom has had a strong commitment to direct sales, and COVID has made this channel even more relevant," says Schneider. "The task for my team and me is to professionalize this area further, add new touchpoints, and offer an ideal shopping experience.

 

I believe that especially the young parents, who are in their 20s and 30s today, want somebody with competence, reliability, and credibility to whom they can entrust their children as they embark on their bike riding journey," says Harris, "That's the role we'd like to take on."

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