LOS ALTOS, CA (BRAIN) Monday March 19 2012 4:52 PM MT—Vendor-Link Cycling is working on a consumer site that will allow online shoppers to find specific products that are currently in stock at their local specialty bike shops. The site, amlbs.com (which stands for at my local bike shop), will launch in May and will be offered free to retailers who enroll with Vendor-Link as a reporting store.
The software company currently has close to 300 bike retailers nationwide reporting real-time SKU-level product sell-through from their point-of-sale systems, said company CEO Raz Alon, and Vendor-Link is signing up more retailers daily.
“When a consumer goes to this site, it will see where they’re coming from and populate it with who’s nearby,” Alon said. “Once they key in the item, it will give all the stores that are reporting to us and let them know, for example, a Shimano 105 front derailleur, who has it in stock. It won’t say price or how many units, because it’s not about price. But they can see who has it in stock.”
The website, along with the Retail Dashboard, a retail analytics tool Vendor-Link Cycling unveiled at Interbike, are some of the benefits the company is extending to retailers to boost enrollment in its program. Retailers gain these tools free in exchange for their data; suppliers pay to gain access to the sell-through information from Vendor-Link. Alon declined to provide what the cost structure is for suppliers, but said, “we’re trying to provide total visibility to suppliers of where their product is in real time. We show a supplier the flow and sell-through and inventory of their products only.”
Companies including Specialized, Giant, Cervélo, Easton-Bell Sports and Serfas have signed on to gain access to the real-time data, and Alon said one other bike supplier would be joining this group soon. And he said his company is gaining momentum. “Suppliers have deep interest in understanding what the consumers are buying and when. They’re eager to know that information to fulfill their retailers better,” Alon said.
To further accelerate the growth on the supplier side, the company recently hired former Interbike show director Andy Tompkins, who will spend a lot of time on the road visiting manufacturers to explain the program and sign up more vendors. Vendor-Link also has a person pounding the pavement on the retail side, strategically signing up shops with POS systems. From a couple of employees, the company has grown to more than 10 in recent months.
Alon said the company will launch a campaign to inform consumers of the new site to drive traffic. But as more stores are listed, it will gradually come up at the top of Google searches.
“The more stores are connected, the more shoppers are looking at this and the better the ranking will be,” Alon said. “It’s an effort that doesn’t happen on its own. As stores start joining and suppliers encourage their dealers, it will get better.”