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The Exchange Group series, part 1: Why a 35-year-old entrepreneur says he is “old”

In the first part of our series on online marketplace company The Exchange Group, Managing Director Jason Wyatt talks about keeping up with the pace of e-commerce change and highlights two online trends to watch.

Jason Wyatt is the Managing Director and co-founder of The Exchange Group, which incorporates the award-winning BikeExchange website. After seven years in the frenetic world of e-commerce, he declares: “I am nearly old in this industry. I’m 35, but since we started, we have already gone through a generation of web changes.”

Wyatt and co-founder Sam Salter started BikeExchange in 2007 after spotting a gap in the Australian biking and cycling retail market. While more and more Aussies were taking to the road on two wheels, the cycling market was highly fragmented. The pair decided to start what Wyatt describes as a “traditional classified website” for second-hand bikes and cycling accessories.

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

Bike Exchange: where it all started

“We saw the gap in the market – there are more bikes sold in Australia than cars, but it was a highly segmented market. It is also a high consideration purchase – people spend between $10,000 and $15,000 on a bike,” says Wyatt.

Wyatt, a qualified chartered accountant who started his career with Big Four accounting firm KPMG, was formerly the financial controller at Holden. Prior to that, he had a stint working overseas in London at Reuters and investment bank Morgan Stanley. He and Salter – a friend from school days – started BikeExchange seven years ago with $15,000 in the bank.

“We quickly found we had ended up spending $10,000 on our logo, while Sam was driving around the country madly signing up deals,” says Wyatt.

The biggest challenges the pair faced, however, were technical.

“In 2007, technology was not what it is today,” notes Wyatt. “There were not many website programmers available in Australia, it was very expensive and it was hard to get it right. Eventually, fulfilling the technology side and delivering the right product was what made it work for us.”

Right from the beginning, BikeExchange recognised the importance of working with a reputable payment gateway. The website and its partner sites have worked with SecurePay for years. “SecurePay was one of our first suppliers – it was one of the only secure gateways available,” says Wyatt. “It is a trusted Australian brand that has serviced the online businesses market since its inception. SecurePay has been incredibly helpful in our journey.”

E-commerce business evolution

As BikeExchange started to build a loyal customer base, the website began to evolve. An important feature of the site is that is includes real-time indications of stock and different delivery options, including in-store pick-up.

Wyatt might joke about already being long in the tooth for an e-commerce boss, but he says the next wave of e-commerce change is just around the corner.

Two developments that he believes will have the greatest impact on e-commerce retailers are online analytics and the use of online imagery.

Analytics, he says, means it is inexcusable for any e-commerce retailer to claim they don’t know what their customers really want. “You need to offer what other people, and your customers, want. Serve and engage them, and then convert them. Really listen to your customer – analytics tells you exactly what your customer is doing.”

The second major online development Wyatt points to is the way imagery is being used by major online brands to help convert more sales. “Today’s 3D image technology is extraordinary,” he says. “Rotating images and showing dimensions are allowing people to interact more with imagery, and that is eliminating barriers to purchase.”

Two online trends to embrace

The Exchange Group operates across a number of sectors – its Managing Director Jason Wyatt believes two online trends will shape the future of e-commerce:

1. Analytics and customer data. “Really listen to your customer – analytics tells you exactly what your customer is doing.”

2. Online imagery. Developments like rotating images, options to “try an item on” and tools that show dimensions will further break down online barriers to purchase.

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