SmartEtailing was founded in 1999 by cycling industry veterans Mark Graff and Barry Brenner. Their innovative idea was to provide an easy-to-use website platform managed and controlled by independent retailers.
This was a time when many were paying attention to the internet’s global possibilities and predicting that this new technology would bring about the demise of small independent retailers. By contrast, Graff and Brenner saw a world where people still lived and worked in local communities. In their view, local specialty retailers, using this new technology, could combine the personal service and instant gratification of in-store shopping with 24/7 online convenience. They imagined and then built a company based on easy-to-use, cloud-based software and expertly prepared content libraries to save retailers time, and all backed by a friendly support staff who understood both retailing and web technology.
The pair were no strangers to the bicycle industry before co-founding SmartEtailing. Graff had most recently spent more than 11 years as president and general manager of Boulder-based Catalyst Communication, a marketing agency serving the publishing and direct mail needs of specialty retailers. Before that, he was a senior manager at a bike accessory manufacturer whose products were sold through specialty retailers.
Before co-founding SmartEtailing, for 13 years Barry Brenner was the majority owner of Cycle Scene, a 10,000 square-foot bicycle store in Ventura, CA. His store, and his approach to retail systems, consistently ranked him among the best bicycle retailers in the U.S. Prior to his retailing career, Barry worked for six years in the computer industry.
The company’s success steadily increased as retailers experienced meaningful benefits within their businesses. Suppliers also began to recognize and recommend the company’s services, realizing that their brand and product stories were more consistently and professionally represented by retailers using SmartEtailing.
Technology continued its march onward. SmartEtailing began leading the effort to connect with other retail business systems and software. First, it introduced Point-of-Sale (POS) Sync, helping in-store inventory and pricing systems automate data sharing with the online catalogs within store websites. This kept online and in-store pricing matched as well as helped keep product displays fresh and timely with actual on-hand availability.
The growing SmartEtailing team began to observe another trend that they believed would be a boon for local retailers and their suppliers. More and more national retailers were starting to show warehouse and supply-chain inventory on their websites. Customers were beginning to appreciate this enhanced visibility to what they could purchase. Warehouses were also helping to move goods directly to consumers based on orders placed through retailers’ online catalogs.
SmartEtailing introduced its Supplier Sync and Supplier Fulfillment options as a way to strategically strengthen how local retailers could demonstrate value for their customers. Now, at each retailer’s website, every available product, down to each individual SKU, whether in-stock at the store, or at one of the store’s replenishment warehouses, could be seen with real-time accuracy.
After the resounding success of Supplier Sync and Supplier Fulfillment, SmartEtailing began looking for further opportunities to integrate the bicycle industry supply chain.
The next innovation conceived of by the company would build on its established role as a hub for real-time inventory and price data from suppliers and stores. A remaining pain point for brands was that referring consumers to local retailers could sometimes result in the store making a sale of an item from a different brand because it was out of the referring brand’s product. Enter Buy Local Now™: a service that any brand could add to its website so that consumers had real-time visibility to store and supply-chain availability directly on the page of the product they were viewing while still at the brand’s website.
Buy Local Now™ was a big project, one that the company would roll out over time while also balancing its other development projects. In order to do that, SmartEtailing sought out a new partner.
In 2012, Steve Flagg and Mary Henrickson became majority partners in SmartEtailing to help fund growth opportunities, including Buy Local Now™ and other advancements. This partnership enabled expanded development of tools to help independent bicycle dealers better compete with online sellers through effective omnichannel strategies.
Flagg and Henrickson have deep roots in the cycling industry. As the founders of Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) in 1981, they are keenly aware of the concerns held by both retailers and brands as consumer shopping preferences continue to change and shift to online purchasing. Steve and Mary have a passionate commitment to nurturing a healthy independent bicycle dealer network and see SmartEtailing as a crucial partner that enables independent retailers to compete in a constantly changing retail world. SmartEtailing is a personal investment by Steve and Mary and SmartEtailing is not owned by QBP.
After 17 years of running SmartEtailing, founders Mark and Barry chose to retire in 2016. The pair had spent several years collaborating with a bicycle industry marketing provider, operated by Ryan Atkinson, called Harvest Retail Marketing. They introduced Ryan Atkinson to Flagg and the group prepared a succession plan with Atkinson becoming the next leader of SmartEtailing.
In May 2016, SmartEtailing merged with Harvest Retail Marketing, bringing cutting edge marketing services to the SmartEtailing platform and creating a launchpad for further innovation of SmartEtailing’s core website platform. Ryan Atkinson joined Steve and Mary as a partner in the business and moved the marketing company he founded in Omaha, NE to Boulder, CO.
Ryan started his cycling industry career turning wrenches at a local bike shop in 1994, and has held several positions in bicycle retail, including service writing, sales, and management. He worked for Trek Bicycle Corporation in sales and marketing for six years before founding Harvest in 2007. Harvest grew into the industry’s premier provider of custom marketing solutions for independent bicycle dealers.
SmartEtailing is headquartered in Boulder, CO. With more than 60 employees, everyone at SmartEtailing brings a wealth of industry-specific knowledge and skills to provide the best possible content, programming functionality, and client support for specialty retailers.
Please browse our website to learn more about our services and contact us if you want to learn more. We’d appreciate the opportunity to help your business achieve further success.