‘Specialist bike dealers are indispensable’
Keola’s CEO, Victor Weng, believes in the fine distribution and service that the specialist bike dealers offer amid a growing online B-to-C volume in Europe. “The fine distribution offered by the dealers is a big advantage when it comes to electric bikes.”
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Keola was introduced in 2008 in the Dutch market and is one of the first e-bike manufacturers in the Netherlands. Keola is known for the quality of the battery, the product and the differentiating designs. The e-bike producer, with its head office in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, has two production sites. One in Nantong, a one hour drive from Shanghai, located in an industrial area with a lot of high-quality productions.
“Within a distance of 100 kilometres all suppliers of quality bicycle components can be found. The import of parts and components from Taiwan, Japan and Europe is easy, thanks to the facilities of the Shanghai port,” Weng explains. The 2nd production site of Keola is located in Etten-Leur in the south of the Netherlands where the high-end e-bikes are assembled.
95% are private labels
Keola is mainly producing the e-bikes for the premium segment in Europe. The combined capacity of both production sites comes to 120,000 units of e-bikes per year. 95% of Keola’s volume are private labels for the major accounts in Western Europe.
“Our overhead is low. We work efficiently and have a flat organisation, with only 15 management and after sales staff to work in the Netherlands and Asia.”
Weng further states, “The rest of our people are all production employees who are working on the production line. Producing bikes is our core business. Our ERP system enables us to co-ordinate our global supply chain and production planning automatically and efficiently.”
A matter of cost calculation
Weng strongly believes in the dealers channel amid the growing online volume. “It’s just a matter of cost calculation. The consumer who has purchased an electric bicycle online expects more or less the same kind of after sales service level from a local dealer. The consumer will call the internet shop instead of going to the local dealer when he has an issue with the bike. As an average consumer, he cannot distinguish who should be the responsible for the issue.”
“If an online vendor wants to keep a high level of customer satisfaction, he will need to send somebody immediately. That is very expensive for the vendor. The vendor will probably also find out that there is a very high percentage of issues which should normally be solved at a low cost level when the customers come to the local dealers. The e-bike is a product which requires the product experience and a high level of after sales service. This, unfortunately, is very hard to be delivered by a purely online player at a sustainable cost level.”