Subscribe To our newsletter

Dealing with stock shortages in a growing industry 

Go. Fast.
This is Felt Bicycles’ statement and declared mission. They think that going fast is fun, so they make their bikes accordingly. Plain and simple.

Felt Bicycles was founded in California, a land of pioneers, entrepreneurial mavericks, technology-driven mavens, and the most passionate outdoor fanatics you’ll find anywhere. Since 1991, they have strived to help each rider ascend to a world championship victory, surpass a personal record, or achieve a perfect ride on the parcours of their liking.

Devoted to creating the finest cycling experience in the world, the company is a world-recognized designer and manufacturer of Triathlon, Time Trial, and Road bikes, especially.

  • Client
    Felt Bicycles
  • Sector
  • Area of Expertise
    Consulting, Online Advertising, User-based Marketing

1. Introduction: unexpected  bicycle boom

In most recent years, the cycling market has seen an exponential growth of the volumes of online sales.
Americans spent over $6.9 billion on bicycles and accessories in 2020, fueling the global expansion of bicycle sales roughly by 40% between 2019 and 2020, and by 57% between 2020 and 2021.
Mobility habits have changed and the number of bicycle riders has significantly increased – both passionates and commuters – growing from about 43 million in 2015 to 52 million in 2022 in the USA.

However, this spike in the market brought along new challenges for the cycling industry that was caught unprepared by it: new bicycles became a scarce commodity, aggravated by the fact that global bicycle supply was also constrained due to shipping disruption, supply chain constraints and health-care emergencies.

2. Goals 

In this context, Felt saw an out-of-ordinary boost that started in April 2020 as a lot of other ecommerce and significantly boosted the online sales for their premium bike models, rapidly consuming most of the available stock.

Just after the big boost in digital sales, revenue started to decrease because of bikes’ stock thinning, with spikes in sales corresponding only to product discounts and small – other than brief – ‘pockets’ of stock for most popular lineups, boosted by the digital advertising campaigns efforts undertaken.

What was interesting though, was that the Traffic sessions followed a more stable trend, slightly reducing only because the cold season arrives, but maintaining an overall high level of interest. Felt’s brand gained momentum from users who didn’t know it before the April boom.

However, given the impossibility of a rapid and substantial replenishment of the online stock, Felt’s ecommerce could not answer to the enlarged demand and thus was losing opportunities in a growing industry.

We have therefore identified two main goals to tackle this trend:

  • Streamlining Digital Sales, by focusing on cost efficiency and coordination among online sales channels to exploit the remaining stock availability and maximize profitability
  • Growing the Customer Base, by expanding the approach of the HubSpot CRM to capitalize on the great interest that arose and so fueling new audience discovery, enhancing brand awareness, and growing the customer database.
  • Collect key insights on existent customers – through database analysis and a survey specifically developed in partnership with the Brand, to lay down grounded tactics to improve the existing website in terms of UX, design, and the collection of Bike’s pre-orders
  • Develop automated journeys – to streamline the Brand’s marketing efforts and improve the effectiveness of 1-to-1 cross-channel interactions, and lead to a unified experience for the customer
  • Support the Brand’s content strategy – by guiding the messages orchestration and definition to enrich users’ experience and keep them engaged based on their interests in different contents (such as tutorials and tips, product-focused, health-related, races and events), and their habits or disciplines (road, gravel, triathlon, endurance, commuting, etc.)

4. Results 

The database enrichment process and the market insights survey granted valuable findings, that helped define:

  • A clearer picture of the demographic distribution of the existent customers, along with their online behaviors pattern.
  • Riding preferences (road, mountain, gravel, triathlon, etc.), and motivation (racing, casual, commuting, etc.).
  • Cycling-related purchase habits and frequency.
  • Top of mind brands awareness in the industry.
  • Felt Bicycles’ USPs.
  • Most-wanted improvements over the product range and perceived value of online content.

We used these findings to draft an Action Plan to drive several improvements for Felt’s.

  • Website – by enhancing UX, organic searches, and data acquisition fueled by the customers’ feedback (later empowered by a further deep-dive with live user testing);
  • Content plan – through the development of an editorial plan based on buyer personas profiles and matched against the empirical results found by the analysis, to validate it;
  • Marketing Strategy – by integrating the advertising campaigns and tool with HubSpot and designing 35+ automated journeys that would have driven the online experience of the user with the Brand, sustained the engagement process throughout the no-stock scenario and accelerated the direct-to-consumer overall process.