Bicycles are an incredible invention. Even though they’ve been around for two centuries, studies show they are still the single most efficient method of human transportation. But while bikes are great when you’re riding, they’re unwieldy once you want to get on a train or head into the office.
London bike company Brompton have solved this problem. They make innovative, iconic folding bikes (choose from ebikes or pure pedal-power) for commuting and inner-city spaces. A Brompton bike will fold up so small that it’ll fit in an overhead locker on a plane. The bikes have been hand-crafted in London since 1975, and they’re built to last.
“We've seen bikes in our stores that come in that are 20, 30 years old. They just keep going,” says Brompton Operations Manager, Phil Connelly.
Today, the Covid-19 pandemic has massively boosted Brompton’s popularity. The need for a socially-distanced, inexpensive method of travel on city streets that are suddenly devoid of cars — coupled with initiatives to improve cycling infrastructure in cities all over the world and advances in ebike technology — has created a cycling industry boom.
“The bike industry is now so in demand that we are playing catch-up all the time. We just can't make enough bikes! But Cin7 have been helping us with our capability on that side of things, which has been really cool.”
Demand for Brompton bikes has only increased now they’ve opened up two new channels: a brick-and-mortar store in New York, and a pure ecommerce channel offering a full direct-to-consumer (D2C) delivery service. Brompton’s West London factory now builds for stock in the US, and they have started shipping a container-load of orders to New York every two weeks.
It was this expansion to the US that saw Cin7 become part of the Brompton story.
Biking off more than QuickBooks could chew
“Before the US project, we were at about $4 million in sales, and during the pandemic, sales really kicked off. We only had one brick-and-mortar store at the time, and plenty of B2B distribution, but we wanted to nurture these other fledgling channels and we just couldn’t do it,” Phil says.
Before Cin7, Brompton had been struggling to meet demand while keeping track of their inventory. They’d previously used QuickBooks Online to manage stock. Although the software was perfect for their accounting needs, it simply wasn’t up to the task of handling inventory. Shipping, selling and inventory errors were common.
“We were fudging QuickBooks, not using it how it is meant to be used,” Phil says. “It was fraught with issues. You would end up selling things twice, mis-shipping things. We had used it for a long time, but as sales have ramped up this year, we realized we had to make a change quite quickly — and that is how we arrived at Cin7. The more we dug into it, the more capability we realized we could get out of the program.”
A chain reaction of improvements
Since their Cin7 implementation, Brompton’s US business has gone from strength to strength. The first and most important ingredient in their transformation: their inventory management is now tip-top. Phil cites a laundry list of improvements, including the ability to ring-fence stock for certain channels, preventing mis-ships.
“Another work around we used to have, when we were using QuickBooks for inventory, was that we had to create different items for different channels, even if they were the same thing, because it didn't have different channel pricing,” says Phil. “That was ridiculous. But Cin7 can easily do different channel pricing — we can do cost, retail, VIP pricing, all in the software. All these different tiers. That is a huge step up.”
“The product set-up is really good. I actually think it’s brilliant. It’s a lot more flexible, and we can include more detail and information in it that we couldn't before, which gives us a lot more agility,” Phil says.
Integrations power the customer buy cycle
A big part of what makes Cin7 so powerful for Brompton is its 700+ integrations.
“The integrations, and Cin7’s depth of knowledge in that area, was a big part of it. It reassured us that we were making the right choice,” Phil says. “Other inventory management companies were more concerned about their own product, and not necessarily about what it connects with.”
Phil also notes that the Cin7 integrations and features they’re not already using give Brompton enormous scope to continue their growth without having to change inventory management solutions. “It gives us flexibility to grow as a business, knowing that we can add modules or apps on,” Phil says. “We can see that there is space to integrate with retail partners, to utilize Cin7’s B2B Online Stores, and to integrate with our 3PL. Those are performance enhancements that would be very difficult to match with another system, and it’s included in Cin7, which is a bonus.”
Cin7 benefits help the bike books balance
With Cin7 powering Brompton’s US operation across multiple channels, Brompton has a visibility and understanding of their operations that they never could have achieved before. And it’s not just the operations team that have benefited. Accounting, marketing, and leadership have all seen huge improvements. “We've got the whole US business in there,” says Phil. “We've got sales, operations, ecommerce, managers and others, all benefiting from Cin7.”
Brompton uses its internal accounting division to do the books for its US operation, which would normally be difficult and rife with errors. Thanks to Cin7’s QuickBooks Online integration, data flows smoothly, and inventory lines up neatly with the accounts. This powerful ability was what really helped sell Cin7 to Brompton’s accounting department.
“The accounting integration was a big part of what clinched it for Cin7,” Phil says. “Cin7 could slip in, almost unnoticed in a way, to the UK accountants and they could just keep doing their jobs — which made it easier for us to sell to that department!”
Marketing is also reaping the benefits, with the ability to effortlessly understand stock availability, and know exactly what goods can go on sale and when. Brompton’s Head of Marketing is able to look at Cin7 and know that there’s stock coming in before he launches a promotion on any one of Brompton’s channels. “In our previous systems, we never had that visibility. Now he can go ‘Ah, we've got 50 bikes that are available in the store, let’s get them out the door,’” Phil says.
Brompton’s leadership are also getting great mileage out of Cin7’s extensive reporting capabilities. “The president of our company is using it for reporting, and he’s noticing that the reporting is a lot stronger than we had before,” Phil says.
Enjoying the ride
For other businesses looking to implement Cin7 to manage their inventory, Phil has some words of advice. Cin7, he says, will always be able to overcome the challenges you might have.
“Just do it,” Phil says. “I think all the way through the project my boss kept asking ‘Are there blockers yet? Are there any problems that we can't get around?’ and we always got through them. We didn't go around them: there was something we could work out. I think a little bit of faith in Cin7 goes a long way, and your business will get rewarded for it.”
With Cin7 fully implemented, and the US business booming, Brompton are looking
forward to seeing where having their inventory sorted can help take them next.
“Cin7 is great. It's exactly what we needed. We spent a lot of time scoping out different platforms and we feel like we've made the right choice, because it is just everything that we were looking for. It's given back to us in spades and it's a good fit for our business,” Phil says.
Brompton are a UK-founded manufacturer and wholesaler of iconic, innovative folding bikes (both traditional and electric-powered) for commuters and casual cyclists. Brompton have implemented Cin7 specifically to power inventory management for their US operation, Brompton Inc.
Employees: 15 - 35
Revenue: $5m - $10m USD per year
Sales order volume: 500 to 999 items/SKUs sold per month
Key markets: USA
Operating in: More than 5 countries
Brompton uses Cin7:
- To integrate and streamline operations
- For more accurate inventory management
- For more efficiency in inventory operations
Cin7 is enabling Brompton to invest & grow in:
- Retail - stores, popups
- Ecommerce - marketplaces, online stores
- Wholesale - brokers, dealers, retailers
- EDI - customers/suppliers requiring EDI
- Other - 3PLs and sales channels
Cin7 helps with the following areas of the business:
- Demand forecasting / purchasing
- Channels to market
Accounting integration: QuickBooks Online
Ecommerce integration: Magento v2
Payment provider integrations: Paypal, Adyen, Klarna
Sales & Marketing integration: Mailchimp
Shipping integration: Shiptheory
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