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Many leading bicycle retailers have been running a computerised POS (point of sale system) for years. But until now it’s been very problematic to integrate this with a workshop management system, all hosted in the cloud.
Covid has made workshops busier and more important to bicycle retailers than ever before. So it’s perfect timing to learn that two market leading software companies, Vend and Hubtiger have collaborated to create an integrated retail and workshop solution.
The POS part of this equation comes from Vend.
Like many great tech startups, Vend was born in a garage, but in this case not Silicon Valley, California but Auckland, New Zealand.
In 2010 founder Vaughan Fergusson saw local retailers using antiquated manual sales systems and wanted to do something about it.
He developed Vend, the world’s first cloud based point of sale system for retailers. Vend was also the first to be available on iPad and the first to integrate with the Xero accounting package.
Fast forward 10 years and Vend is now a global company with offices in Auckland, Melbourne, London and Toronto and customers in 140 countries.
Cycling has been part of Vend’s DNA since the very beginning, as Vaughan recollected, “I have an interesting relationship with cycling. I’ve been a long time cyclist since I was a kid, when I first tried to ride no-hands and ended up over the handlebars eating dirt, but that didn’t put me off riding bikes.
“Today my love affair with cycling tends to be what some people would consider extreme. My happy place is going on very long cycle rides – across countries or around the world. Every five years I tend to have a big blow up where I need to disappear for a few months and just cycle the world.
“Ten years ago to the month almost, was when I cycled the length of New Zealand solo. Given all the lockdowns, I’m wondering whether I do that again, but maybe not do the length, but do the circumference, just to mix it up a bit.”
Vaughan is far from the only cyclist at Vend, as he explained, “We have a global team, but in our Auckland office, we need to be making more and more office real estate available for parking bikes. Our front reception is almost over-run with bike racks. With ebikes it seems to have really accelerated the adoption of cycling as a great form of commuter transport.
“A lot of Vendors, which is what we call our internal team, are cyclists, at least commuter cyclists. Then there’s the weekend warriors who go out to the awesome mountain bike parks here in Auckland.
“Ana Wight, who is our CEO, is also a bit like me. A few years ago she cycled from the UK through Asia to New Zealand, over many months.”
It’s not surprising that this deep interest in cycling has led to close businesses relationships with the bicycle trade.
“Our very first retailer to use Vend was a bicycle store in Hamilton New Zealand, Velo Espresso,” Vaughan continued. “They were so keen to use Vend because we were the first cloud platform with integrations into e-commerce and accounting.
“There was a very early pull from bike shops who were tired of the legacy platforms that were out there. Being confined to a store can drive store owners a bit batty. One of the appeals of Vend is that it is entirely cloud based, you can run your store from anywhere.”
“The product has come a long way in 10 years since we launched. Now we’ve got widgets on your phone that can give you real time updates about what’s happening in your store without you needing to be there… that’s freedom to run your business how you prefer.
“We have been very purposeful in designing software for omnichannel, which is blending that in-store operation with an online channel. Our centralised inventory management features are now even more valuable as customers are browsing and buying across multiple channels -making stock control more challenging – throw the workshop’s request for inventory and it’s even more complex!’
“Engaging customers via loyalty and VIP programs is factored into the POS design, so this can all be easily carried out at the point-of-sale through integrating marketing and CRM platforms to Vend. The modern retailer needs to be able to do it all, so we bring it all together into one easy to use platform.”
From small beginnings, today there are over 100 bike shops in the Australian and New Zealand markets using Vend and over 200 bike shops globally.
We also spoke with Candice Bosher, Senior Account Executive at Vend’s Melbourne office who works directly with bicycle retailers. Commenting on the current market Candice said, “We’ve had a huge influx of bicycle retailers looking at Vend and making the switch.
“It’s really common for us to see bike shop owners have a lot of store operation and performance information stored only in their heads. Vend makes it really easy to capture all of your product information, so that you can see at a glance exactly what products you have on hand, what has been ordered and is on its way in. You can also easily track your sales.”
Meanwhile, workshops have become much more important to bike shops in today’s Covid trading environment. So how can dealers not only manage their product sales but also their workshop in a seamless, integrated solution?
Rather than reinvent the wheel, Vend has formed a partnership with Hubtiger, a specialist in workshop management software.
Hubtiger was established in South Africa in 2018. They operate across six countries with New Zealand and Australia being most recently added. To date, Hubtiger has helped bicycle retailers with over 57,000 services through their software.
Hubtiger can be used as a stand-alone software package, or integrated with Vend. It also includes a consumer app that cyclists can download to give them service information about their bike. They can link with Strava software to record how many kilometres are being ridden on that bike so that Hubtiger can then give the consumer prompts based upon their service requirements and service history.
For the retailers, Hubtiger can integrate with their store’s website so that customers can book their bike services online. Their booking will be saved directly in the workshop’s calendar and will save a lot of time currently spent on the phone finding a suitable time and booking in services.
Hubtiger is not the only program that Vend can integrate with.
“We have an open API (application programming interface) that allows Vend to be built into quite a broad ecosystem,” Candice explained, “Everything from staff rostering through to larger enterprise systems.
“A lot of platforms do not allow the same level of integration which leads to double handling of data. But with Vend everything is working in concert together.
“Vend offers accounting integrations with the leading providers: Xero, MYOB Accountright, MYOB New Essentials and QuickBooks Online.
“We also have integrations with e-commerce platforms BigCommerce, Shopify, WooCommerce, Ecwid and a huge range of others.
“Being able to offer those online sales in instances where customers aren’t able to get to the store at all, or are choosing a click and collect option is certainly something we’re seeing right across the board in retail.
“We also have integrations with MailChimp and we work with a range of third parties that allow integration with larger Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms such as Hubspot, Netsuite and Salesforce.”
This all sounds great, but getting back down to brass tacks, what improvements should bicycle dealers expect to see, both in their workshop and across their store more broadly, if they were to adopt an integrated Vend / Hubtiger solution?
“The biggest physical difference is that servicing is no more hand-written job cards floating around,” Candice predicted. “All of your information would be available on screen. So no-one needs to ‘go out the back’ to see what’s available in terms of spare parts, they could just look at the availability on their screen.
“Communication with customers is also more streamlined. You can use automated text messages to let them know about progress with their job and to get approval for more parts to be used. All of this means less time on the phone, so that the service team can focus on getting the bikes serviced.
“When the service team has finished they mark the bike complete and ready for collection, which brings the job straight through into Vend – no searching around for the job card to see what has been done, it’s all there for the cashier and the customer.
“The customer might then buy additional items when they collect the bike, and these can easily be added to the workshop invoice. This makes it easy to upsell, for example if the service person has made a recommendation for a certain sealant, lube or other product to be purchased. The recommendation of a trusted expert, such as a bicycle mechanic, carries significant weight with most customers.
“Another key advantage is that customers can book their bike for service at any time, 24/7, via the bike shop’s website. Not every customer wants to call or visit during business hours to book their bike. They might want to make the booking at 10pm from their home.
“Overall the integration of Vend and Hubtiger makes for a much nicer customer experience as well as enhancing efficiency which ultimately boosts profits.”
Case Study – MC Cyclery
MC Cyclery in the Sydney suburb of Maroubra was recently introduced to Vend and they took up the integration option with Hubtiger.
“Working with James Ezra and the team at MC Cyclery, James was very excited about the efficiencies that the Vend / Hubtiger integration will bring to their workshop,” Candice said.
James commented, “We pride ourselves on going out of our way to take care of our customers. We do that with a combination of great people and great tech. Hubtiger is the great tech in that equation, helping us achieve a great customer experience, while making our bike shop as efficient as possible.”
Choose Your Level of Onboarding Support
Adopting a POS system for the first time or changing from one system to another is a big decision for any dealer to make. Fortunately Vend offers every option from ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) through to dedicated onboarding services, through to partners in your area hand holding every step of the way. This can include training for the team.
Vend includes 24/7 live phone and chat support. “All of our phone support is done in-house through our Auckland, London and Toronto offices. You can be confident that you’re speaking to someone who has a deep knowledge of our products.
If you’d like more information please visit https://www.vendhq.com/hubtiger or call AU:+61 488 801 321 or NZ: +64 4-887 1256