FreestyleXtreme was launched in 2003 when a small group of riders and action sports enthusiasts saw a gap in the market for a retailer specialising in motocross lifestyle clothing. With the team attending many European freestyle shows, action sports events and race meets, the brand grew rapidly and evolved into a mail order company offering customers MX brands and products they couldnâ€™t find elsewhere.
In 2004, and with demand greater for their products than they could have imagined, FreestyleXtreme launched online with FreestyleXtreme.com. The site launched in 13 different languages and with nine currencies. Whilst the benefits of localisation are now well recognised over a decade ago this was a pioneering approach but central to the FreestyleXtreme brand.
Ben Richardson, Director at FreestyleXtreme.com said: â€œWe recognised early on that we needed to offer a completely customised international service if we were going to be able to go toe-to-toe with the local retailers. This strategy worked as we faced little or no online competition for around 5-6 years. Back then, retailers werenâ€™t really interested in the international markets. Particularly not for niche areas such as ours.â€
Initially FreestyleXtreme used Royal Mailâ€™s international delivery services. However, they quickly realised that an untracked mail solution wasnâ€™t consistent with their desire to offer good customer service and sought alternative options.
Ben continued: â€œFrom the outset we recognised that good customer service had to be a cornerstone to our brand. Generally motor cross / extreme sports enthusiasts received pretty poor customer service. We aspired to behave more like a premium retailer such as John Lewis. If there is a problem we work hard to resolve it. However, using an untracked mail service meant we often didnâ€™t know about any issues until the customer informed us.â€
One of FreestyleXtremeâ€™s biggest challenges in the early days was the fact they were ahead of their time. They were aspiring to provide a high quality, customer focussed eCommerce solution long before eCommerce was as we know it today.
Ben said: â€œWe were looking for an alternative distribution solution which didnâ€™t really exist and were very restricted in terms of the logistics partners who could support us. The services they offered were quite rigid. So we were delighted when wnDirect came along.â€
wnDirect offers flexible and fully customisable solutions. The emphasis is on good customer service, transparency and flexibility from beginning to end.
â€œGood customer service is heavily dependent upon the final mile. If carriers let us down, we let our customers down. The customer doesnâ€™t differentiate; they just remember that the experience with us was bad. We know that a good customer experience is at the very heart of the wnDirect service, and are confident in their selection of local carrier partners.â€
Getting to know your customers and what drives them is an integral part of a long-lasting relationship. wnDirect works hard from the outset to achieve this, ensuring the onboarding process is not only efficient but also valuable to both parties.
Ben (FreestyleXtreme.com) said: â€œThe onboarding process was the smoothest I have ever experienced. Usually setting up with a new logistics partner can feel a bit like pulling teeth. There are usually a series of issues which are left to you to resolve. With wnDirect it was easy. We quickly developed a very positive relationship with our Account Manager and, in fact, everyone we have come across at wnDirect has been nothing but helpful and great!
â€œMany service providers operate a â€˜win it and worry about it laterâ€™ approach. The amount of effort wnDirect put in at the beginning has not waned as time has gone on. The â€œcountry packsâ€ they develop, for example, are a brilliant tool. These are all available on their online portal â€œThe Hubâ€ and are used regularly by our customer care team. They are the first thing I consult when I am considering a new lane.â€
Another challenge echoed by many start-up businesses is the difficulty in finding logistics partners keen to work with them before they have significant volumes. wnDirect is different offering SMEs competitive rates by utilising their total volumes.
Marie Barrance, Head of Account Management & Implementation at wnDirect said: â€œWe are excited to work with new and emerging brands as any of them might be the next big thing in retail. That is the great thing about eCommerce â€“ anyone can sell online. This really gives smaller players a chance to be discovered. Consumers love to uncover new brands and by working with them we are able to deliver their products to forward thinking or niche customers.â€
Ben (FreestyleXtreme.com) said: â€œA lot of the innovations that wnDirect has developed are all things we, as a business, have been thinking about and wish we could achieve. What differentiates wnDirect is that the innovations they focus on are what eCommerce businesses want and need. I have come across a lot of â€˜coolâ€™ ideas but these are very often irrelevant and wonâ€™t help my business. I was completely blown away by the PUDO solution â€“ wnCollect - and within seconds of receiving correspondence about wnControlTower I was on the phone.â€
wnControlTower, wnDirectâ€™s most recent innovation, is essentially air traffic control for parcels and was developed by wnDirect to help retailers work more efficiently by giving them a 360â€™ view of the parcels in their network. wnControlTower is unique as it brings together valuable data and presents it in a way which is easy to understand and also supports a pro-active response.
Ben (FreestyleXtreme.com) said: â€œWe understand that problems sometimes occur. wnControlTower will give us the ability to know about the issue and fix it before the customer is even aware. This is very powerful. As a tool this raises our customer service level to one that, in reality, was nothing more than aspirational for us when we first launched the brand.â€
So whatâ€™s next for the FreestyleXtreme.com brand?
Ben (FreestyleXtreme.com) concluded: â€œFor us its more of the same. More growth, more focus on our customer service and how we can do things even better. And more liaison with wnDirect as, so far, it has served us rather well!â€
To visit the FreestyleXtreme website, click here.