LYNDON STATION, WI (BRAIN)—Industry veteran Jay Townley has seen the future of the U.S. bike business—and it involves retailers collaborating more closely with suppliers, for the benefit of both.
VendorLink-Cycling is the collaboration between Townley, the cycling industry catalog resource Bike-alog, and G9 Software, a provider of web-based retail-supplier collaborative solutions, according to a press release. Their new company is a bike industry-specific adaptation of an existing solution already proven in consumer products industries worldwide, including leading office supply, toy, hardware, and grocery retailers and many of their top suppliers.
“The industry is looking for better ways to provide retailers with the right inventory, at the right place, at the right moment. But we’ve lacked the business tools to do so—until now," Townley said.
VLCycling delivers what Townley calls “smart data”—information that is multidimensional, realtime, demand-based and actionable. Smart data provides suppliers with near-realtime understanding of both product demand and their retailers’ business needs, creating a new level of collaboration that benefits both parties. One appealing part of the system is that data access is discrete, Townley says. Suppliers only get information on products they actually sell and from the retailers they actually sell it to.
In addition to improved forecasting for their own ordering needs, suppliers can now better support retailers with timely delivery of as-needed products to dramatically reduce shortages, stock-outs, and backorders, or reduce inventory of slower-moving product. The bottom line, he says, is improved operational efficiency and cost savings throughout the entire channel.
The solution is web-based and accessed via vlcycling.com (click on link).
VLCycling intends to connect with the entire bike dealer universe with a point-of-sale system regardless of which POS they have. And retailer recruiting efforts are already underway. “The response from bike dealers is amazingly positive,” Townley said. “For the retailer, joining VLCycling is free; it takes no more than a single 15-minute phone call."