How Frog Bikes has used its website to attract customers from around the world
Within five years, this children’s bike firm has expanded to 35 countries. Co-founder Shelley Lawson explains how her start-up achieved export success
Sponsored by Verisign
The creator of lightweight and affordable specialist children’s bikes, UK-based Frog Bikes has just celebrated its fifth year of trading.
Its founders, husband-and-wife duo Shelley and Jerry Lawson, came up with the business idea after searching for bikes to help their children learn to cycle.
Unable to find bikes that weren’t too heavy or awkward for children to manoeuvre, the pair launched Frog Bikes in February 2013 and have been on an upwards ascent ever since; the start-up now generates multi-million revenue with sales in 35 countries.
The business has certainly come a long way and international trade has played a large part in its start-up success; a development which came as a surprise to its founders; “We certainly didn’t expect export sales to be so important to us this early in our growth”.
However, establishing customers in countries across the world didn’t happen overnight.
The founding pair invested in creating a multi-lingual .com website to attract overseas customers and enable customers to purchase products in their local currency. The rest, as they say, is history.
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To find out how your small business, like Frog Bikes, can create a website to target customers worldwide, we spoke to Shelley Lawson to learn more…
The Frog Bikes story so far
“Our business model is to sell our lightweight children’s bikes exclusively through good quality independent bike stores. This ensures that the families who buy our bikes get good service, and the bikes will be well built and looked after.
“We now supply 1,500 independent bike stores worldwide, in around 35 countries, fulfilling all orders from our warehouse in South Wales.
“We have good distribution across mainland Europe, with an increasing number of stores in US and Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, UAE, and just a few in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.”
The factors Frog Bikes initially considered to take its business overseas
“Customers approached us from overseas – initially Scandinavia – and we quickly saw that there were major opportunities in a number of markets.
“The competitive landscape for children’s bikes is similar worldwide, largely because the biggest names in bicycles concentrate most of their R&D on adult bikes. This leaves a sizeable niche for us, given that we focus entirely on lightweight children’s bikes.
“In order to give our overseas customers as much support as our UK stores get, we have invested in our head office team, bringing in more people with European languages.
“We have created a multi-lingual website and ensure our sales platform can handle multiple currencies and prices.”
“We also want to deliver bikes rapidly and safely around the world, so we work hard to make sure our courier partners can fulfil our orders reliably and cost-effectively, anywhere in the world.”
The process Frog Bikes took to secure an international domain name
“Shortly after registering Frogbikes.com we also secured several other domains, anticipating that at some point in the future we might need them.
“As it happened, we started using them quicker than we had planned. It was a small cost to ensure customers could find us easily online.
“We started with Frogbikes.com, and it is still our main site, serving the majority of English-speaking customers. We use geolocation software behind that however, so that customers worldwide see the version of the site which is most relevant to them.”
Realising Frog Bikes’ global ambitions
“There’s a lot more work for us to do in the countries where we already have stockists, and we are always developing our range of bikes, based on our own research, so that Frog Bikes are the most lightweight and comfortable bikes for kids.
In terms of our newer markets, we have just announced a very exciting partnership with USA Cycling, meaning that we will be their official kids’ bike partner for the next three years. The relationship will allow us both to achieve the shared goal of making biking more accessible to young people.
“Ultimately, we hope to encourage more kids of all abilities to get on a bike, to gain skills and confidence, and have fun!”
This article is part of the ‘Getting Online’ series sponsored by Verisign. Click here for more information from Verisign on how your business can attract customers from across the globe