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There’s a story behind every transfer: Bicycles Online

Riding on the momentum from their local bicycle tour business on Sydney’s northern beaches, eCommerce retailer Bicycles Online was born. 

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Purchasing new bikes each year to refresh their rental stock, co-founders Jonathan Allara and James van Rooyen noticed that while there were over 350 bicycle brands in Australia, the bicycle market was dominated by only a few big players with high prices to match. 

And here lay an opportunity to shift gears; cut out the wholesale middleman and tap into a growing market that traditionally only purchased in-store. In true Australian spirit, the pair thought they’d give it a red hot go. They brought in a container of bikes, bought direct from their manufacturer overseas, and created an eBay store to test the market. The bikes sold within three weeks. 

Realising their idea to go direct-to-consumer had legs, the duo set up their soon-to-be headquarters from a garage and opened their online bike store. 

Today, Bicycles Online is a fully fledged eCommerce business with an impressive handful of brands under their name; they’ve taken the Polygon brand to Australia and the US, and also expanded with their own brand of bike parts and accessories.

With suppliers based in Indonesia and China, the business largely handles payments in US dollars. In the search for a better exchange rate than what their previous bank was offering them, the business turned to OFX in 2017. 

I was recommended to use OFX, but honestly I wish I knew about it sooner. By far OFX is the most competitively priced and easiest platform we’ve ever used. 

Jonathan Allara, Co-Founder Bicycles Online

“The entire user experience and the customer service side has been a lot better for our finance teams to manage.” 

As with many businesses running global operations, the logistics of importing products via sea or air freight and the potential of shifting exchange rates on an invoice can be an unwelcome FX challenge that can have a big impact on budgeted costs. 

That’s where the business has benefited from the use of currency hedging tools to help plan their upcoming payments and help avoid unplanned costs. 

“We regularly book in Forward Contacts so we can understand what we have to pay and what exchange rate we apply to that shipment. It means we can better manage our margins and future cash flow.”  

Having this added certainty means the business can focus less on exchange rates and more on growing their business. In the past two years, Bicycles Online has grown threefold with families and weekend warriors alike jumping on the cycle bandwagon. And they’ve now set their sights on expanding into e-bikes, the latest craze to hit the streets of Australia. Safe to say, the business has well and truly gained serious pedal power. 

So, how would Jonathan describe OFX in one word? Seamless.

Quick Tips: Jonathan Allara, co-founder of Bicycles Online, shares his four tips to growing a business internationally: 

  1. Research and test your product in the market before you commit
  2. Don’t over capitalise
  3. Take the time to write a business plan with realistic financial forecasting and analysis
  4. Do it with a business partner if you can; it’s easier to share the load along the journey of ups and downs. It’s also great to celebrate your successes together when you get them.

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