A Swiss bicycle dealer appears to be as much concerned about what happens outside its stores as inside. VELOplus – where “velo” is French for “bicycle” – keeps its customers up-to-date and gets involved with political and legal issues as well as market developments. Supplemented by much interaction with its customers, this broad-based knowledge from outside feeds into the hundreds of accessories they have designed and the outstanding level of service they offer inside. The “plus” from the shop adds up to generating value for communities in multiple contexts – as in Deep-Connect – and has driven their success to become the largest specialist bicycle retailer in Switzerland.
VELOplus was active in two political campaigns at the national level:
- In the spring of 2019 a demonstration was held in the capital city Bern named “I bike to move it” and was promoted by Veloplus. Over one thousand people from all over Switzerland bicycled to the city to demonstrate for more sustainable policies including more support for bicycles.
- Veloplus was one of the main sponsors for the national campaign “bike to work” in which in 2019 more employees signed up at more firms to commute on the bicycle to cover more kilometers than ever.
Legal topics are also of concern
- The headquarters maps bicycle traffic patterns in its town in order to work together with local authorities to plan bike routes
- A compendium of traffic rules for bicyclists was distributed to the customers, which included some surprises regarding what exactly is allowed and required from bicyclists.
- Customers were informed about a study from Germany regarding the relatively high incidence of cars that drive dangerously close to the bicyclists when the drivers pass by the bicyclists.
- The client magazine reported on an unusual bicycle manufacturer and then later, after a show of interest, the store organized a client event to visit the unusual bicycle manufacturer.
- The store presented a free series of six evening presentations in which long-distance bicyclists report on their bicycle journeys.
- Customers were informed in an enthusiastic manger about the most thrilling innovations in bicycles and accessories which were presented at an exhibition for dealers. The idea was that customers could feel they had attended. The report was not directly sales oriented because not all the products reported about will come into the store.
Wide-ranging customer interaction:
- Customers are invited to be models for the product catalogue.
- Courses are offered in bike repair, which in effect cannibalizes their own repair work
- Customers are often drawn into product development. Two recent examples are a survey to gather requirements for a tool bag hung on the bicycle and a workshop to define the features of a sustainable bicycle, where the bicycle should be compatible with respectively adjustable to different life phases.
- A platform on the website for buying and selling used bicycles and accessories as well as for finding colleagues for tours.
- Customers can register their bicycles on the website to help find them if they are lost or stolen.
VELOplus has grown to become the largest chain of specialty bicycle shops in Switzerland with ten locations and 130 employees.