Urban Rider drives traditional retail
in a new direction
Urban Rider Partners Will Starritt and Andrew Taylor continually test new concepts to succeed
and scale their business, partnering with Brightpearl to make it happen
The ecommerce background
The year was 2007 when friends Will Starritt and Andrew Taylor saw an opportunity to be their own bosses, taking on the lease of an existing motorcycle shop that had been trading for over 20 years but had failed to move with the times. Little did they know that starting their new business, Urban Rider, would be quite the adventure.
“We’ve done a lot, considering the difficult market conditions,” Will said, laughing a bit while looking back at the downturn in the world economy. “We signed the lease, and the next day I remember reading in the newspapers a story about this phenomenon coined ‘the credit crunch’. We saw our business concepts and ideas tested in the harshest of economic environments, and know we could have been blown away in the first year.”
That first year saw over £200,000 in sales, and just six and a half years later Urban Rider’s sales have grown to over £1,000,000 gross.
Those initial concepts that contributed to growth combined each founder’s unique talents and background. Will’s degree in engineering at Nottingham and industrial design at London’s RCA came in handy for designing bespoke bikes for customers. Andrew came from a legacy of retail entrepreneurs, including his great grandfather, Sir John Moores, founder of Littlewoods.
“He was keen to not go into the family business and just do his own thing,” Will said of Andrew. “We want to have a certain standard of living, make our own money, do something we enjoy and be in control of our time.”
The inventory management challenge
In addition to the retail location on New Kings Road in London, Urban Rider added online sales to their offering. Will and Andrew embraced operations technology from the very beginning, looking to other multi-channel retailers like John Lewis as inspiration to meet their goals.
“We were working with Magento when many small businesses felt they couldn’t justify the investment in back-end infrastructure. We wanted to be at the level of the big boys,” he said.
This still meant using Actinic EPOS to manage inventory and do shop sales, operating in parallel with Magento for online sales. These disparate systems for online versus shop sales, delivery and tracking of different carriers, and managing inventory to optimise cash flow became difficult to manage given their sales growth.
“Initially we wanted something to tie all our channels together. A lot of the solutions out there were based on very old-school ecommerce systems. I remember going through all the aspects of Brightpearl and thinking, ‘Right, this is what we want.’ It was as if I designed it, but someone else has done it. And Brightpearl was clearly targeting a business of our size.”
- Effectively manage and track multi-channel sales, including support for Magento
- Scaling business and sales growth while keeping staff and costs low
- Support for inventory control to optimise cash flow and offer unique, value-added services
The multichannel solution
As early adopters of Brightpearl four years ago, Urban Rider was able to process and connect orders from all their channels, manage inventory and deliveries, and crunch the numbers of their business. Everything is connected in real time and from one place.
The platform is such an integral part of their business, that Will visited the Brightpearl Bristol office to meet his support people, providing feedback on his experiences and the needs of their business.
He continues, “A lot of small businesses don’t have the time or necessarily the skills to really dig down into a lot of their data to see where they’re making money and where they’re not,” but he believes this to be key to the Brightpearl benefit, and critical to keeping a business running and growing.
Taking advantage of multi-channel support, they’ve expanded sales offerings in their existing channels. “We’re starting to use eBay more, partly because of the integration that’s available with Brightpearl, whereas before we used it just as a stock clearance facility.”
And inventory? It’s is running like a well-oiled machine, “Brightpearl allows you to manage multiple channels so you can keep your stock really lean and make the best use of your cash.”
When it comes to their scalability, Will explains, “We’re very conservative and see ourselves as more a traditional retailer that’s making the best use of technology. We have a staff of six. Ten years ago that was almost unthinkable, to have that kind of revenue on such modest staff numbers. You would need twenty people to run that kind of business.” Their new integration with Interlink Express, part of Brightpearl’s app store, “is great since it has eliminated the double entry of shipping information, saving at least an hour each day.”
For other retailers considering the move to Brightpearl, Will has some advice. “You need to put time and effort into making it work for your business. If you accept that there’s going to be a learning process and invest in some training, true scalability is your reward.”
Urban Rider is continually looking for ways to be unique in the two wheel market, including same-day delivery service and fitting. “We REALLY rely on having incredible control of our inventory across those channels, which Brightpearl can give us in those marketplaces.”
Will and Andrew’s reputation in the market has grown along with their sales, including features on BBC Breakfast, Sky TV Bike Channel, Channel 4, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, and other publications, and a list of upscale clientele to envy. Having more time to tap into their creativity, Andrew is the spokesperson for their regular video blogs, demonstrating their latest products and motorcycle fashion pieces.