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Hi e-commerce enthusiasts! Melissa here. Did you know that May is National Bike Month? We love our bikes here at MailChimp, so we decided to visit our pedal-pushing friends at Priority Bicycles for this week’s issue. I’ll admit that we’re a little biased, because we have a fleet of Priority bikes in our MailChimp Bike Room.
Co-founded by Dave Weiner and Connor Swegle, Priority Bicycles is a small, New York-based company committed to making high-quality bicycles at an affordable price. Their strategy is simple: excellent parts, an efficient supply chain, and an online business model. “No fancy stores. No gimmicky bells and whistles,” says Dave.
Not only does having an e-commerce-only business model allow Priority to dramatically reduce overhead, it lets them focus on building a following all around the country — and the globe. “We can be in contact with our customers quickly and on demand,” says Connor. “We can follow up with any customer service needs at all hours.”
Connor and Dave note that a traditional bicycle shopping environment can sometimes be overwhelming or intimidating, so their e-commerce store allows customers to shop, research, and buy at a time that works for them, which makes customers more comfortable.
Of course, being an online-only business can have its downsides, too. The co-founders cite brand awareness as Priority’s #1 challenge. “We often say that 9 out of 10 of our perfect customers don’t know we exist,” they told me. As a small team, the majority of their time is spent on product development and customer service, because they have to rely on 100% happy customers to continue to propel the brand.
As a growing brand in an e-comm world, here are the steps Priority Bicycles takes to get the word out:
“Tactically, we start by getting our message down to what makes us different: low-maintenance, high-quality, and affordable bicycles,” explains Connor. “A lot of people have pretty bikes; we do, too, but we want to reinforce what makes us stand out amongst the options. Think about all of the messages a consumer gets every day. We aren’t just competing against bicycles: We are competing against every message that is out there, so we want to make sure we are very clear.”
“Media reviews and recommendations are big for us,” emphasizes Connor. To help extend their reach beyond the northeast, Priority Bicycles works with a Portland-based PR firm called Akimbo Communications who helps them plan national media events and press pitching. “Having our bicycles tested and ridden by gear and lifestyle magazines and websites helps us get our message out on a national level, not just to our customers in New York. Akimbo helps position us appropriately for articles, gift guides, reviews, and in-person meetings.”
“We still rely on email for the basics of communication, so MailChimp is essential for sharing information and spreading the word,” the duo acknowledges. “The more we use it, the more we gain important insights on what works and what doesn’t in a simple and intuitive way.”
As the company has grown, so has their usage of MailChimp features. “Incorporating automation workflows for signups has been successful and provides the personal touch from our brand,” says Connor. “Our welcome email has been a great way to quickly welcome someone to the Priority family and give them our backstory. It lets people know that there’s more than just wheels, a belt, and pedals to our bicycles — there is a why that drives us.”
Connor and Dave continue to find new ways to connect with customers and share their product. Earlier this year they launched a showroom, which provides a home base for people to come see their bicycles and get to know the brand. It also serves as a space for media events for them and their partners. Plus, they’re continuing to expand their product line with a new commuter bike and new kids’ bicycles (which I have seen with my own eyes. They are adorable).
“That’s a lot just right there,” Connor admits. I agree — that’s probably enough to keep them busy through the next few National Bike Months.