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ARTICLE InspirationJuly 21, 2014

The Exchange Group, part 2: How to break into new markets

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In part 2 of our series on online company, The Exchange Group, Managing Director Jason Wyatt reveals how to break into new sectors and take your e-commerce brand overseas.

The Managing Director of online marketplace company The Exchange Group, Jason Wyatt, started the BikeExchange website in 2007 with his mate Sam Salter, with the aim of servicing the thriving cycling community in Australia. It wasn’t long before the pair spotted the chance to expand into new sectors.

BikeExchange was initially a “traditional classified website”, but the business model quickly evolved to include individual sellers who wanted to sell second-hand items, as well as bricks-and-mortar cycling retailers who wanted to cater for a nationwide market in a cost-efficient way.

Today, BikeExchange has more than 64,000 bikes and accessories for sale across Australia from individual sellers, as well as from 365 cycling shops and dealers. The website attracts a million visitors a month and has more than 260,000 people on its email database.

Business model innovation

For bike retailers, BikeExchange has allowed them to reach a nationwide market without having to invest in their own website.

“We have some amazing success stories with our dealers,” says Wyatt. “For $330 a month, our dealers get unlimited advertising – if they sell a $1,000 bike that month, then that is a great return on their spend. We market direct to the consumer and for every dollar spent, we try to get a sale for the customer. We want to make sure that every single customer gets a good return.”

Wyatt cites examples of dealers receiving more than $500,000 worth of returns on their spend. “There are not many sites that can give you a report and say: ‘That’s what we did for your business’. We get inquiries for them, so they can focus on being a great retailer,” he says.

The success that BikeExchange experienced meant it wasn’t long before the company looked to expand its horizons and business offering, creating a new venture called The Exchange Group.

Birth of a new business: TiniTrader.com.au

The catalyst for the first expansion came when Wyatt and his wife were expecting their first child and were trying to buy a pram. The savvy businessman quickly realised there was another gap in the online marketplace.

TiniTrader.com.au , dealing in baby and children’s apparel and goods, was launched in 2012 under The Exchange Group banner as a joint venture.

“New parents all think that the pram is the most important purchase they will ever make,” says Wyatt. “We saw there were new mums who wanted to research products in a very fragmented market – and then they need to buy and sell everything for their kids as their children grow up.”

With more than 16,000 retail stores catering for the baby and child sector in Australia, the ability to search and buy a huge range of products in one place was appealing to consumers. Today, this online marketplace lists 26,000 baby and kids products from individual sellers, as well as from bricks-and-mortar retailers.

The expansion didn’t stop there, however.

Building on success: RenoExchange

Next, The Exchange Group launched RenoExchange as a joint venture to tap into Aussies’ renovation addiction and to help tradies and builders who need to easily access products that are in stock and available to be picked up.

RenoExchange attracts 300,000 visitors a month, with 75,000 people on its email database and more than 260 retailers and independent sellers listing thousands of building and renovation products on the site.

Once you have built or renovated a house though, you need to furnish it. And so FurnitureExchange, another joint venture, was created, to allow buyers to easily search thousands of products and to see what is in stock and available at different retail outlets.

Expanding to New Zealand and Germany

The expansion into new sectors was a logical – and hugely successful – step for The Exchange Group, and Wyatt believes this Australian marketplace model can also conquer international markets.

BikeExchange launched in New Zealand in 2013. “We’ve seen incredible results, and the uptake has been sensational,” says Wyatt.

Further afield, BikeExchange has been launched in Germany, a country that is well known not only for its love of cycling, but also for its booming economy and affluent population. “There are 8,000 bike stores in Germany; biking is a way of life there,” says Wyatt, adding that he sees opportunities to expand further into other German-speaking countries, such as Austria and Switzerland.

There is no reason why The Exchange Group’s growth will stop there. “Our marketplace model can be easily segmented to other markets,” notes Wyatt. “We definitely have plans to expand. “Technology means that we can sell any product anywhere at any time. We can go anywhere in the world – there are lots of good opportunities out there.”

Did you know?

A SecurePay payment gateway allows you to accept credit card payments online directly. SecurePay has worked with BikeExchange since 2007.

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