Hawes & Curtis: Accelerating growth through user experience
A Brompton bicycle is not your average bike. Just ask anyone who rides one.
“The bike doesn’t sell itself. Its owners sell it,” says Rich Spencer, President of Brompton North America. Because Brompton riders tote their foldable bikes into offices and cafes, they’re unusually enthusiastic brand evangelists. “Brompton riders are more than happy to invite you to try it out or check out the design,” Spencer says. “The more people we can get out on them, the more Brompton owners and riders create the buzz.”
A Brompton bicycle is a quintessentially British product, the brainchild of ardent cyclist and engineer Andrew Ritchie, who invented the prototype in his bedroom not long after he graduated from Cambridge. Each bike is still manufactured in London.
In America, the bike’s British-ness is not its main selling point. Rather, Spencer and his team, who opened the first North American Brompton store in New York City in April, pitch the bike as the ultimate commuter tool. The ultra-compact, customizable Brompton gives its riders freedom to move about their city. “We don’t want to play down the Britishness, but we do market the Brompton here as something that eases congestion and the burden of living in an urban environment,” says Spencer.
A truly unique Brompton owner story, Google employee Tommy Lutz commutes via folding bike and folding boat on the Hudson River.
While the Greenwich Village store is the company’s first North American outpost, the brand has been picking up speed with Americans for years. Brompton has a network of some 130 independent dealers carrying Brompton bicycles and products, and the brand is well represented in all major American cities, Spencer says.
Opening a flagship Brompton Junction in New York City was a chance to offer a more complete brand experience in the company’s biggest US market. People can rent bikes from the store and, while riding, communicate with each other or store staff via Bluetooth-enabled helmets. (People frequently buy the bike and helmet as a set, says Spencer.) The store, he says, is about showing off the full range of customization available, which is wide — since no Brompton bike is exactly like any other. Riders literally build a custom bike, choosing everything from the frame material and handlebar type to the bike’s colors and number of gears. “(The New York store) is very much about raising the profile of Brompton,” he says.
The US store was also a chance for the company to take a closer look at the customer journey. Modern shoppers, Spencer says, expect more than ever as the lines between the physical and digital retail worlds blur. From the moment a potential buyer clicks on the Brompton website to the moment he or she rolls out of the store on a bike, the data gathered along the way should build a comprehensive view of each shopper. “How (customers) engage with a brand has become so sophisticated,” he says.
Choosing Adyen as its payments partner fit well with all this complexity. Adyen’s unified commerce solution means managing all customer communications and payment data through one platform. Customer interactions on all channels get rolled up into the same dashboard for a merchant to view in one place. “Whether it’s brick-and-mortar retail, click and collect, or other digital transactions, all of these interactions can be accommodated by Adyen anywhere in the world,” Spencer says. “The reporting and the level of data has helped us.”
And the shopping world will only become more intricate. As the company continues to expand to more cities around the globe (next up: Paris and Singapore), pairing payment data with other types of data will help Brompton better understand its customers. “The business intelligence has tremendous potential value,” Spencer says. “A year or two from now, the value of those metrics and that data that Adyen gives — to be able to report on it in an elegant way — could help us make better internal strategic decisions. It will help us give better customer service to our customers.”
If a Brompton is unlike any other bike, a Brompton Junction store is also unlike any other bike shop.
At the store opening in April, Brompton asked artists to come into its Greenwich Village space to do live drawings, something they will continue in coming months. The store, which has some 55 bikes on display, is designed as a place where Brompton owners can congregate to ask questions and meet friends.
Travel is another area where the compact Brompton excels, as explained by American Airlines terminal manager Newton Dixon, who’s traveled the world with his bike.
Brompton owners often have more than bike riding in common. The DIY nature of the customizable bike means owners tend to be creatives, or interested in engineering or design. They come to the Brompton shop to trade stories of their urban commutes, or their travels on the Brompton (the folding bike can be stowed away in special luggage and packed as an airplane carry-on). “Very quickly,” says Spencer, “people find that they use it far more than they use any other bike they’ve owned. It becomes this thing that’s part of their identity.”
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