“We were up to 50 shops by the time our first official Interbike rolled around and it was a real business at that point,” Graff recalled.
Brands & Suppliers On Board
Trek asked them to attend its annual dealer event, where SmartEtailing signed up more dealers. Later, Trek renewed its connection and was the first company to embrace more advanced integrations including Supplier Sync and Supplier Fulfillment.
QBP also saw value early on as a way to help consumers view online the components, small parts repair products that QBP had available but weren’t necessarily in stock at the local retailers. The companies worked together to create the first “special order catalog”, a predecessor to Supplier Sync that’s now a staple used by the company’s many other supplier partners.
SmartEtailing’s early days were tough as many retailers were reluctant to do anything online other than a basic informational site. But the product catalog was a big draw.
“The fact that it included pre-designed templates and a product catalog allowed us to easily and quickly, within a few days, have a website up and running with our logo, our locations, and our products,” remembered Michael Reuter, a longtime client of SmartEtailing and owner of American Cycle & Fitness with seven stores in Michigan. “It allowed us to quickly get into the online space so local customers could find and interact with us.”
As more and more retailers joined the service, the enthusiasm from cycling brands built into a rapid expansion of the cycling catalog and the need for SmartEtailing to hire more staff to support the influx of retailers and brand partners.
One of the reasons SmartEtailing survived the early days was because the company had a bootstrap mentality and they wanted cash flow to fund their growth, so the company’s long-standing tradition of modest financial planning came to be.
Stayed tuned for part 4 in the series about the early basement days of the company.