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How An Indie Bike Shop Took Control of Inventory Management

How An Indie Bike Shop Took Control of Inventory Management

Every retail business has inventory, but some stores are more complicated than others. And it can take a lot of trial and error before mastering inventory management systems.

Consider the bike shop: in the sales department alone, there are all kinds of bikes—to say nothing of the necessary equipment, specialty clothing and shoes. And then there are bikes to repair, parts to order and components to replace. Inventory grows at an exponential rate. 

When the Néron family founded Cycle Néron three generations ago, the inventory management system was a lot simpler. It got more complicated and more time consuming as the business grew. There were multiple locations to manage, changes in consumer behavior and—in recent years—the advent of electric bikes. 

How did they cope?

Lightspeed sat down with Mathieu Séguin, a sales consultant who has worked at Cycle Néron for over a decade, to discuss how the bike shop manages inventory.

This interview has been edited for clarity and concision.

How has the amount of inventory changed for Cycle Néron over the years?

“Before, we didn’t have as many SKUs. Today, there are hundreds and hundreds. We have so many new products and new brands. 

The arrival of electric bikes has obviously changed things even more. 

Nowadays, a bike is a bit like a car. It has cables, a battery, firmware and software. It brings additional challenges. The SKUs just keep going up, up, up.  

We tried to keep track as best we could. It was archaic—the old system didn’t help us. 

And two different people were managing the inventory, with different methods. That didn’t help.”

In a lot of cases, the first few months of the year are a bit slower. Business owners might close the store for a few days to do physical inventory counts. Was that the case for Cycle Néron?

“Yes. We used to close the stores and take a day to do inventory.

We had an old program and it wasn’t the easiest thing to use. Most of the time, it crashed. If you scanned an item too quickly, it crashed.

Same issue with the data search. Let’s say I was looking for a customer in the database—the inventory wasn’t super well maintained there either, because we just didn’t have the right tools for it.

It was too much. And we kept opening new stores, too. We also knew where we wanted to go online. At some point, you can’t manage everything that way. You need tools that will allow you to do more, more easily.”

How has inventory management changed since you switched to Lightspeed?

“It saves us time. We don’t have to close [the stores] anymore.

Now, we can do spot checks, it’s much easier. We go by category. In our Nun’s Island, Lachine and Boucherville locations, it’s easy.

Brossard is the biggest store, the one with the most inventory. We still close sometimes, depending on the year. It can take us a total of two days to take inventory. But if I didn’t have Lightspeed, it would have been the worst: a real nightmare. Now, it’s not a big deal.

And with the catalogs—importing items we get from our suppliers—we have protocols in place. Everything is entered correctly the first time. Afterwards, you don’t have to go over the work that’s already been done [to fix things]. That saves us time, too.”

Does it also save on costs? Is it because you have fewer inventory errors?

“Yes, we have fewer inventory errors. Of course, you save time, too. You don’t have to pay someone else to do the job over again. In the end, you always end up saving costs.”

Proper inventory management is so much more than doing a physical count. How has having inventory management software in your POS helped with other day-to-day tasks?

“There’s the slightly more back-end side, like the data we’re able to access. For instance, say you forget you have a bike in stock. With the old system, you might not sell it. But with Lightspeed, you think, “wait a minute, I’ll do a search.” And it’s already listed in the inventory. So you can tell the customer, “Here, I’ve got this item.”

It’s fun because it helps us make better decisions, especially when it’s time to stock up. When it’s time to recommend stock for the new season, we can base our decisions on what’s selling well.”

Cycle Néron is powered by Lightspeed. Talk to one of our experts about how Lightspeed can make your operations as simple and efficient as possible.

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More of this topic: Management & Operations