This interview, with Zach of Pure Fix Cycles, is part of a series of interviews I’m doing with interesting and exciting retail startups. I will be publishing more interviews with retailers over the next few weeks.
I came across the Pure Fix Cycles website last week and was immediately very impressed with the design of the website and some of their marketing activity, particularly via social media websites. In addition to this, they have a really great product.
After a brief Twitter conversation, I approached Zach and asked if he’d be interested in taking part in this interview and he kindly accepted. Here are the questions I asked and his answers.
Why did you choose to start the business? Why bikes?
We chose to start this business because we saw a void in the market for cool, affordable, functional bikes.
Were you inspired by any other retailers?
We were inspired by some of the classic Italian cycling brands, such as Bianchi.
What were the key requirements you set for your ecommerce website?
We built an online retail experience designed to lay everything out in a clear, concise, easy-to-navigate way.
Why did you choose to use Shopify?
We actually built prototype sites with both Goodsie and a custom WordPress theme but neither felt sustainable / scalable, so we liked the direction Shopify was going in and ran with it!
What were the key marketing channels you optimised for when you started?
Social Media. We used a real brute force, aggressive social style at the beginning. Searching ‘fixie’ on twitter, targeting those customers, shooting them free shipping coupons and such, just to get them to check us out.
How long did the design process take for the website?
Initially, it was all in house, done by my lovely partner (& brother…), Jordan. It was an ongoing process for months, but we launched something pretty soon after the idea came about. I’d say, from the time we had bikes here, we were live within a couple weeks. He’s fast! Now, we’ve worked with developer teams (@Shopaholla) to help us build our dream store. That took a couple months to perfect. We’re still working on it, but we couldn’t be happier with the new shopping experience.
Was the website based on any other sites?
We like to take ideas from our favorite stores in town. I love the way shopping feels on sites such as Warby Parker, Bonobos, and Everlane, so I certainly spent my fair amount of time playing around those shops. As a result, I have a good 10 pairs of Warby shades on my desk (all of which I absolutely love). Also, J Crew, Need Supply and Madewell do a really good job with a ton of SKU’s.
How important was user experience to you when you first started?
The most important! We’re constantly taking input from our customers and modifying accordingly. We’re quick to act and turn things around in no time. Also, we’re always A/B testing to see what works best and acting on the test results to make the shopping experience better for everyone.
How has the business changed since you started?
Well, we’ve certainly grown a lot. We have great teams in place for support, finance, design, web, retail, sales, etc, and our customers notice. When hiring, I do my best to only hire people that are smarter than me. I suppose that makes me the dumbest one on the team, but atleast I’m surrounded with smart people. We all wear a ton of hats and manage to have a good time while doing it.
We have various product lines and pivoting is always a fun challenge. Launching new lines feels like launching new brands and it’s exciting to see it through, from the design process to the product development to the manufacturing and distribution.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you were to start again?
Maybe spend more face-to-face time with our manufacturing team. Maybe work on raising money a bit earlier, to better fund our inventory issues. Early on, and sometimes even still, keeping inventory is a big, big problem. Having 0 bikes and having to tell customers we can’t sell them what they want hurts. Bad.
If you would like to find out more about Pure Fix Cycles, you can visit http://purefixcycles.com.