How one cycling store is winning the ecommerce race…

Welcome to a new feature of the Nosto blog – a regular look at some of the brands we love and are lucky enough to work with. Find out who they are, why we love them and how they use Nosto!

First up,

Always Riding… 

What’s the story?

We all have our calling in life- for some it is the corporate dream, for others it is fine whisky after a day of rock-climbing (who? me?!) and for a freedom-loving few it is the call of the open road. It was this need to feel the wind in their hair and pedals underneath their feet that drove (or should that be pedaled?!) Basque born Leire and Derbyshire boy Pete to start their business, Always Riding. With a simple mission – to source and sell “unique, hard to find, unmistakably awesome and beautifully finished cycle clothing”, this British born company started on its two wheeled journey to where it is today- a company with a global reach and loyal customers.

This is a store founded by riders, for riders- with a love of cycling remaining at its wheel-shaped heart and infiltrating everything they offer and everything they do.


What do they sell?

Always Riding, like a cyclist going downhill, quickly moved on to new and interesting terrain- expanding their original offering of apparel to include accessories for your bike as well as your body. The shop has two distinct offerings – “For The Rider” and “For The Bike”, they also have an outlet section selling discounted stock (saving you pennies) and allow you to shop by brand (in case names are kinda your thing).


What we love?

The question should probably be what don’t we love. And the answer would be not a lot!


Hand-picked quality goods:


In an ever-expanding virtual world where merchants sometimes focus on quantity rather than quality, curation has itself become a valuable service and it is one that Always Riding excels at. In fact, they could quite easily change their name to Always Searching For The Absolutely Best Products For You. But let’s face it, that’s not quite as catchy…

As a fully independant business in a crowd of more functional, faceless corporations it’s refreshing to see them put the same effort into picking their stock as they do the components for their own bikes. This quest for quality sees them acquiring their stock from everything from independent artisans and new start-ups to more established brands. In other words they sift through the crap so you don’t have to. The result is a list of suppliers carefully picked because they are good at what they do, ensuring you (and your beloved bike) get only the very best.


Engaging copy:

If you haven’t noticed already, we love a bit of witty repertoire. Basically, if you have something interesting to say and an interesting way of saying it we are down. Which is why, on the Always Riding website, we had a field day. If you’re looking for a lesson in engaging copy that will not only have your shoppers reaching for their wallets, but doing so with a smile- then this is the store to to look to. Not only is it funny but it is written with a passion that is infectious- demonstrating that while you may be serious about your subject (in this case quality bike gear) you don’t need to sacrifice your sense of humour to get that personalized message across!

This engaging style of writing is prevalent on the blog (more on that later) but also hidden in the more unexpected nooks and crannies of the site – we particularly like the ‘About Us’ page and the FAQ section (“Can I pay with a paper airplane?”) which prove that functional doesn’t have to be boring. Every inch of your site is a chance to let your brand personality shine.


Blog and social media presence:

If you thought it was enough to have good quality products and an attractive site then unfortunately you’d be wrong. Luckily, for Always Riding their offering doesn’t stop there. That’s right – they are top of their game in the social media and content world too, with an impressive social following (over 7k followers on Twitter, 5k on Facebook and 1.5k on Instagram) and an engaging blog that is regularly updated with interesting and relevant articles.

What’s the secret to their success I hear you ask? Well, what we liked was the mixture of product focused, aspirational and behind-the-scenes posts. They aren’t afraid to show you the working bones of their business, the reasons they sell the items they do or themselves using those products in practice! It is an approach that appears unstaged and encourages trust. We particularly liked the “Meet the Maker- Halley Stevensons” post which is a first hand account of the Always Riding team travelling through the Highlands to Dundee to meet and greet one of their suppliers, simultaneously promoting and giving insight into one of their product lines, while once again demonstrating the care they put into picking their products.


Look book: 

A look book is a great commerce tool – demonstrating your products in real-life settings makes it that much easier for your customers to imagine themselves using them. Make that look book glossy and attractive and suddenly you have an aspirational piece of content that not only has your customers able to imagine using your products but wanting to. But why do we love Always Riding’s look book particularly? Because it’s shoppable! Click on the image and those items that make up the look are available to buy straight away – connecting the dots between wanting to buy a piece and actually doing it.


Live purchase map:

Sometimes you see something on an ecommerce site that makes you go “Ooooo” (and no we’re not talking about underwear models)- Rider Live, Always Riding’s live purchase map, is one of those things! A map that continuously updates to show recent store purchases across the world, it serves a number of purposes. Firstly, it shows them to be international, giving the company gravitas. Secondly, it allows people to be lead and inspired by the purchases of others. Thirdly? That previously mentioned “Ooooo” factor- smart and innovative uses of technology say something about a company, showing them to have imagination and vision. Bravo!


How they use Nosto

So it’s obvious we have a lot of love for this brand but, luckily for us, the feelings seem to be reciprocated- use as they do a great number of our features…


Email widgets:

As we have already said, this is one company doing all the right things to stand out. But as all cyclists know, it’s important to keep moving (try riding a bike by staying still). And with the modern inbox busier and more hazardous than a London cross-road without a helmet, Always Riding knew they had to go the extra mile to grab the attention of their potential customers. The answer? Nosto’s Email Personalization Widgets – used to personalize their email marketing communications with tailored product recommendations from the Always Riding store. These are based on their previous browsing or buying behaviour, making them more attractive to the individual (and therefore more likely to convert) and delivering a better service, in line with the Always Riding brand.

And for prospects that are yet to have a great deal of interaction with their site? Best Sellers are highlighted instead. This is a style of recommendation particularly suited to a shop within the sport vertical, driven as it is by seasonal changes or even specific sport events. If the Tour de France is coming up, for example, and one of the riders wears a piece from the Always Riding store that item is likely to jump to the top of every cyclists shopping list! This surge in purchases would be reflected by the recommendation, meaning new customers always know what is hot.


Personalized onsite recommendations:

1. Home page – One to one personalization

Your homepage is the window to your store, something Always Riding is definitely aware of, giving visitors a number of ways to explore. This includes promotion of a specific brand range, their new arrivals and, of course, recommendations geared towards the individual. While cycling to the layman may seem pretty standardized (“Two wheels and a helmet, right? What else is there to know?!”) the pros coming to this store know that there are many subcategories to this sport (Mountain, City, Road). Depending on what form they tend to partake in shoppers will be more interested in some items on the store than they will others. Personalized recommendations allow them the quickest route to the stock that appeals to them, also taking into account preferences such as brand loyalty and price sensitivity.


2. Product page – Dynamic Upselling

Ah, the product page- time for your stock to shine! But what if, as cool and stylish and sexy as it is, it’s not the right product for your shopper? Let them go back to the category page and continue sifting? Or use the onsite data from your store to suggest relevant but alternative items that could be just what they are looking for? Always Riding knows the right answer, having set up an excellent product description page offering not only alternative products but also complementary items. So, if a shopper is viewing a helmet but decides it is not the right one for them they can easily continue their shopping journey by clicking one of the substitutes being suggested. If they decide that it is the right product then they can still chose to continue their shopping journey by looking at suggested accessories, such as water bottles. Happy days!


3. Cart page – Last Chance Saloon

The finish line is in sight! And you’re almost home scott free. All you want to do is get their payment details in and send them riding off into the sunset, right? Or do you want to go the extra mile as Always Riding have chosen to do- suggesting items relevant to those in the shopper’s cart(by highlighting products others bought with the same items) and reminding them of those pieces they viewed along the way? For sports retailers this is particularly useful – sports equipment often has a longer buying cycle than other verticals, which means you need to optimize your site to increase AOV whenever possible.


Facebook Ads:

Even with a brand as engaging as Always Riding, it can be difficult to cut through the noise of the social world but personalization, used to dynamically tailor product level ads, is one way to make your voice a little louder. Always Riding does this in two ways. Firstly, by using personal re-engagement ads on Facebook that appeal to an individual with recommendations based on the items they viewed but didn’t add to cart. Secondly, with abandoned cart recovery ads which remind busy cyclists of those pieces that caught their eye but from which they ultimately rode away.

Like your favourite cyclist’s jersey colour in the Tour De France crowd, both of these advert types stand out by appealing to what you are interested in!

So, there we have it- a great brand doing great things and a company we are proud to be helping in their race to be the best. Come back soon for another look into best practices from some of the ecommerce industry’s top talent.

Are you a sport merchant? Find out more about personalization in your vertical with our latest case study.


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