If you’ve spent any time in the bike lane in the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed you're sharing it with more electric bikes than usual.
I know I have. I ride my ebike every day and it’s hard to imagine that there was a time not too long ago when I had one of the only ones out there.
Ebikes have been quickly growing in popularity the past few years, but as of this spring, the demand for safe, reliable, and affordable transportation skyrocketed. This has led to a national bike shortage -- one that has left plenty of would-be riders feeling frustrated.
Fortunately, even before the shortage hit, we took steps to meet the mounting demand. Here are a few of the ways we’re scaling up and, more importantly, what that means for you.
Delivering on our Promises
The global pandemic had industry-wide ramifications for bike companies. Supply was shut off and months of on-hand inventory was quickly depleted as more and more people decided bikes were a safe alternative to public transportation and a great way to socially distance outside.
Rad Power Bikes has grown more than 100 percent each and every year since 2015, when we pivoted to be the first direct-to-consumer ebike brand. We have been profitable as a business since then and reinvest every dollar back into creating revolutionary products and expanding operations in pursuit of continuous improvement to our customers' experience.
That reinvestment was not enough, however, to prepare for the unimaginable and nearly overnight surge in demand we have been managing for the past 3 months. Our customer service lead times and backorder lengths are now coming down every week as we race to get back in stock and be back to (and beat) the customer service targets we are known for.
We've also taken concrete steps to ensure that we'll be able to ship out bikes, accessories, and spare parts faster than ever before, even in the face of a future surge in demand.
To that end, we're working strategically to expand on our global supply chain, which has already sourced hundreds of thousands of our ebikes that have been delivered to you. Part of our strategy has been to order more bikes further in advance, but this is not as easy as it sounds considering we are already a cash-conscious hypergrowth company.
Rad Power Bikes manufactures all of our ebikes in factories that are exclusive to us. They have dedicated assembly lines, use Rad Power Bikes owned tooling for a majority of the parts, and follow our global production and quality standards.
When you receive an ebike from Rad Power Bikes, it is built to these exacting standards in Taiwan, China, and Southeast Asia. Because of this diverse manufacturing network, we are in a unique position to continue delivering ebikes throughout the coronavirus pandemic and are better protected against potential supply disruptions in the future.
This also grants us the ability to offer more products for more people. We've always made it a top priority to make sure we have bikes that are built to fit any lifestyle. If you think we've been doing a good job at that so far, just wait and see what we have in store down the road.
Rad Power Bikes has full-time, in-country employees in every one of our factories that oversee the quality of every single bike produced. We also have teams of full-time employees in-country overseas that are dedicated to sourcing new suppliers and ramping up our production capacity and source base.
This doesn't just ensure that our global quality standards are met well before our bikes hit our fulfillment center or that we can ramp production faster, it also acts as a defense against any unforeseen obstacles.
For example, if there are sudden travel restrictions that prohibit Rad employees from entering a country, our commitment to localized quality control, sourcing, and vendor management means that we still have eyes on the ground to inspect your bike long before it reaches your doorstep.
You have probably noticed we are launching more models each year, including those that feature a combination of new, unique, and patented features while doubling down on our design tenet of value innovation to keep the price low. Our tooling budgets have expanded faster than the growth of our business and we are developing products that will continue to revolutionize the experience of riding an electric bike at a great price.
Since we own the tooling and design, we have our parts built by multiple factories simultaneously to reduce the production bottlenecks. (That's right -- it’s not just our bikes that are made across multiple countries and factories).
Ensuring that every new bike has a greater percentage of original components than before cuts out third-party suppliers and reduces customer wait time. It also allows us to pursue unique value-innovative solutions that put us ahead of the curve with every release.
On top of this, we're continuing to design exciting new accessories that give our bikes all the utility of the family minivan -- something that's vital to encouraging our customers to drive less and ride more.
Thanks to these accessories, our commercial team is now making inroads into industries where cars have previously reigned supreme.
Reliable Support for Reliable Rides
Beyond our award-winning bikes, we're working hard to provide the best customer and product support in the industry.
With demand spiking by nearly 300 percent compared to mid-2019, we know that we have more riders on the road than ever. A lot of them have questions and we want to make sure they're able to get answers.
That's why we've ramped up our customer support team by four-fold this year. We now have more than 100 full-time customer service employees and continue to grow.
It doesn't end there. We know that sometimes a phone call or video chat isn't enough. To give our customers additional peace of mind, we're providing a new slate of post-sales offerings.
This is best showcased by the online tools we offer customers, including a comprehensive help center that makes basic maintenance easy, even if you've never picked up a wrench before.
We've also launched Rad Mobile Service, which is currently in Austin, Miami, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, British Columbia, and is rapidly expanding to include new cities. With this program, our mechanics come directly to your door to help fix whatever issue you might be having with your ride. It provides all the benefits of a brick and mortar bike shop, with far more convenience than most cyclists are used to.
For those who are still on the fence about buying a bike, we're always rolling out new features to make sure people know exactly what to expect. This ranges from an improved ebike quiz that helps would-be riders select their ideal model to our in-depth blog that covers the world of ebike news and information.
Ready for Whatever's Next
This is just a small taste of what we have going on behind the scenes, but as a direct to consumer brand, we have the luxury of being able to adapt to whatever the world may throw at us. We were not expecting to transition our hundreds of Rad employees to working from home, but we bought A LOT of laptops, launched new software and systems, and are here to serve you every day of the week.
We are constantly updating and improving our products and services based on customer feedback. Please keep it coming!
I hope this can provide some comfort on your ebike journey. As a resilient company that continues to deliver more and more value to a population of people looking for an accessible, environmentally-friendly mobility solution, we're building this business to stand the test of time and rely on your support and partnership to make ebikes that are built for everything and priced for everyone.