How a Local Bike Shop Became a National E-Commerce Success Story

September 3, 2020

ChannelAdvisor Bradley Hearn By Bradley Hearn

When they first started their own business, brothers Jack and Paul Ku weren’t thinking too hard about e-commerce. Instead, the family business was centered largely around a 500-square-foot, brick-and-mortar bike shop serving southern California consumers.

Fast forward to 2020, and City Grounds is setting all kinds of online sales records. 

By April, the online retailer had already generated 54% of the revenue it achieved over the entire course of the previous year. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, the company experienced its highest-ever revenue-generating day—for 35 consecutive days. 

So, how did a local, niche retailer manage to become such a wildly inspiring e-commerce success story?

It all started with a decision to expand

When the shop first opened, it was an opportunity to build a business based on a personal passion. Paul had just finished college, Jack was in between jobs and their dad was a recent retiree. The trio decided to try their hands at a new business that would combine two things they loved: bikes and family. 

Over time, City Ground’s initial collection of urban commuter bikes gave way to a robust selection of BMX, road and kids’ bikes. As word of the company’s top-notch selection and outstanding service spread, the Kus decided to expand to additional locations beyond their flagship Huntington Beach store.

Then, as word spread even more, the group decided to gradually build out the online side of the business. 

Although, if we’re being completely honest, it didn’t happen all that gradually.

“It was interesting to see the community grow around retail stores, and then continue to see that community coalesce around the brand when building our reputation as an online seller,” Jack Ku said during an interview with ChannelAdvisor. “We see a lot of positive activity on our social media channels.”

Then came the next phase of growth 

It didn’t take long for City Grounds to firmly establish its role as a premier online BMX retailer. The e-commerce side of business was so successful, in fact, that the team realized additional expertise and specialized technology would be needed to sustain continued growth.

That’s when the company turned to ChannelAdvisor Managed Services for Digital Marketing for assistance with Bing and Google advertising.

“The most important business goal for us is obviously ROI,” Ku said of the decision to work with ChannelAdvisor. “We want to make sure that whatever money we’re putting into all of our ad spend is actually driving real business for us. We were still at a point where we felt we needed to scale up a bit to get it to where we wanted it to be.”

Together, City Grounds and ChannelAdvisor developed a strategy for targeting the right audiences, and for testing ad campaigns to identify the most promising opportunities.

When the global pandemic hit, the retailer was prepared 

By the time COVID-19 lockdowns and stay-home orders were being issued, City Grounds had a solid foundation in place. As in-store shopping shifted to online buying, the company simply put its e-commerce business into high gear.

Since ChannelAdvisor Managed Services had already been building Google and Bing strategies, the team was able to scale its campaign structure quickly and seamlessly.

“ChannelAdvisor was really well-positioned to scale up as quickly as our business demanded,” Ku said. “If anything, we weren’t able to keep up with the amount of sales and demand that ChannelAdvisor was able to generate for us.”

City Grounds isn’t the only COVID-19 success story, but it’s definitely one of the most inspiring.

“It’s stunning each time I’m looking at the numbers and we’re seeing record-breaking days…day after day after day,” Ku now says of the experience. “The thing that sticks out to me is how quickly ChannelAdvisor was able to respond.”

Wondering what your company can do to achieve similar results? As the global pandemic continues to impact consumer behavior, it pays to stay ahead. See how ChannelAdvisor Managed Services can help you remain prepared for whatever comes next.

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