Spotlight on Bikewagon
Like many of the best e-commerce ventures, Bikewagon began humbly in 2004 when Bruce Majors, Dale Majors, and their father, George Majors opened a small e-commerce store. They ran the store from their garage and sourced inventory on evenings and weekends after school, slowly building the brand into an international supplier of bike parts and accessories over the next twelve years. By 2016 Bikewagon had become so successful that it was was acquired by LevelNine (L9) sports, joining forces to sell both ski and bike equipment to shoppers around the world.
Today, as one of the largest online retailers in the cycling industry, Bikewagon’s goal is to make cycling and mountain biking accessible to all by selling high-quality, low-priced gear to outdoors enthusiasts. We sat down with Bruce Majors, director of sales for L9, to learn more about Bikewagon and its path to success.
Bikewagon's Early Days
The Majorses started their e-commerce journey by purchasing bicycle parts and accessories from a local all-goods liquidation warehouse, then listing the items on eBay for extra cash. At the time, America was still on its post-Lance-Armstrong high, with the Tour De France winner having renewed interest in the sport. This enabled the Majorses to enter a relatively unsaturated market teeming with budding enthusiasts.
Having grown up in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah, the Majorses shared this enthusiasm for the outdoors and cycling with their customers. They channeled their passion into their business, working to deliver rare, high-quality parts and accessories to their shoppers.
Bikewagon began its life as a garage-based company—but with dedication, it grew into a global company.
In the beginning, the Majorses’ eBay store was a part-time job for everyone. Throughout high school and university, the brothers worked extended hours to sell their bike parts and accessories, balancing midterms, essays, and weekday classes with sourcing and listing items on eBay.
Running an e-commerce business while studying was difficult, but they stuck with it. Bruce recalls his brother waking up at 3:00 am each morning throughout their college years to list inventory on eBay. Dale worked at the eBay business until 6:00 am, then went to class for the rest of the day. The schedule was grueling, but it was this kind of dedication that led Bikewagon to flourish.
Like many sellers, selling on eBay wasn’t always Bruce’s “Plan A.” After completing his degree in exercise science, Bruce considered leaving the family business to pursue a graduate degree in physical therapy—but after working with physical therapists and seeing the reality of the profession, Bruce realized instead that there was more opportunity for growth at Bikewagon. With the decision made, he returned as its sales manager.
From Startup to Hot Company
Excited at the prospect of growing the Bikewagon brand, Bruce began looking for new ways to expand the company. He realized that to achieve the next level of success, he needed to deal with other brands directly. The lack of e-commerce adoption in the cycling market, however—and its protectionist tendencies toward brick-and-mortar stores—presented a challenge.
Unlike most brands in the outdoors industry, bicycle companies hesitated to sell their products online. With established brick-and-mortar relationships, manufacturers were worried about cannibalizing profits and the businesses that had made them successful. This made sourcing new inventory incredibly challenging, especially since Bikewagon was virtually unknown at the time.
To solve this problem, the team at Bikewagon got together and came up with a plan to build their credibility in the industry, slowly bringing brands onboard with the Bikewagon e-commerce experience.
The team at Bikewagon revamped their website to make it as crisp and professional as possible. Their marketing managers, Paul Asay and Nathan Moulton, created a blog. They produced content to educate shoppers and provide value to the bicycling community. They launched social media channels to distribute their original content. Finally, they decided to source only the highest-quality parts as a matter of company policy.
By ensuring that their inventory was top-quality, the Majorses were able to offer generous customer service and return policies, leaving shoppers satisfied and more likely to return. Over time, Bikewagon established itself as a name brand in its own right, earning the credibility needed to partner with top cycling brands around the world.
Using Terapeak to Understand the Market
Bruce and Dale learned everything they could from these larger brands, studying the success of each product and style.
Ultimately, the team decided to try manufacturing their own products, creating and selling Bikewagon-branded accessories. Bruce says the team used Terapeak to determine which products, styles, and colors performed best on the eBay and elsewhere, sourcing items directly from manufacturers overseas.
We use Category research in Terapeak to find new products. We look at our own niche as well as other categories that are performing well.”
Enjoying success at sourcing bicycle accessories direct, Bruce and his team also began to research other profitable opportunities. He says they used Terapeak to determine whether saturation levels, demand, and prices presented good opportunities in a variety of categories, then went where the data took them.
At one point we even expanded into fitness products because Terapeak helped us see how well they were performing on eBay.”
After finding a niche, the brothers would speak to manufacturers or drop shippers who carried the product, source as much as they felt the market could handle, then move on to the next opportunity when competition or demand dried up. This strategy enabled the company to quickly add to their bottom line as they continued to build Bikewagon.
Today, Bikewagon has grown into an international brand that sources and ships globally. The Majorses continue to use Terapeak to identify new opportunities for their businesses and run five eBay stores that sell a variety of popular products.
As for Bikewagon itself, success online led L9 Sports to acquire it in 2016. The team has grown significantly, doubling in size from the 30 people that worked for Bikewagon before the acquisition. Bruce says this growth wouldn’t have been possible without dedicated team members like Paul Asay, Nathan Mouton, and IT head Alan Rose, amongst others, all of whom have worked with Bikewagon from its early stages to help it to reach the market position that it occupies now.
Today the two companies continue to work together to expand their ski and bicycle brands and offerings, and have established themselves as a premier global provider of outdoor sporting goods online.
To learn more about Bikewagon visit:
Bikewagon Website: http://www.bikewagon.com
L9 Sports Website: http://www.levelninesports.com