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The following is a complete copy of an Industry Canada Case Study featuring Galileo and one of our Galileo Commerce clients, Braun's Bicycle & Fitness.

If you would like a copy of this Case Study, we will be happy to send you one, along with other information about us. Just visit our contact section and get in touch!


Braun's Bicyle & Fitness
27 Scott St., Kitchener, ON N2H 1P8

March 18, 1998 - Gay Lepkey

Industry Canada Case Study Braun's Bicyle and Fitness is a 72 year old, family owned, retail business. Operating out of a single location in Kitchener, Ontario it was a local, community based business for most of its existence. Latterly, and by means of Internet technology, it has developed a market presence in over 40 countries.

By most standards, Braun's is a relatively small operation. It employs 10-20 people (some on a seasonal basis). The company has had a Novell network for about 8 years and currently has 14 computers networked. Sales, ordering, record keeping and inventory control are completely automated at Braun's.

Of the 14 stations, 4 have Internet access and are authorised for use mainly by purchasing and sales and management. These personnel use e-mail for supplier/customer correspondence and the Internet for product research. Nevertheless, all employees may receive and send customer service related e-mail. E-mail is checked three times per day and the messages distributed appropriately. The Internet connection enables Braun's management to get in touch with potential suppliers which in turn provides access to unique products. Consequently, Braun's has been able to develop a unique product line which is a very important factor in successful retail competitiveness. In effect, the company web site provides resources in two basic areas: retail operations and problem solving.

It was in 1995 that Braun management decided to experiment with the Internet. At first, this was understood to be an attempt to be innovative or, at least, to appear to be innovative within the local market. Spokes Plus was Braun's first attempt at a web presence and was initially merely an "electronic businss card." This site was followed by Club Tread Monthly Specials and The Club Tread Reports, both off-shoots of Braun's Club Tread concept, a "customer loyalty program," or discount buying club for subscribing customers. Touring with Braun's Cycling Club features a cycling club initiated and sponsored by the company. In 1996, Brauns Online was introduced, with further upgraded following in 1997. This site replaces the original one, Spokes Plus which is still maintained, in an upgraded version, as a shop window for specialty products. Today, "Brauns Online is the automated version of Braun's Bicycle and Fitness."

Brauns Online has some notable features. With an online database of 800+ products which provides detailed product information if requested, Brauns Online offers a product search engine, online shopping capability including product selection (shopping basket software), secure credit card transactions, a real time shipping calculator and a real time currency exchange calculator. Notably absent from the range of cycling and fitness products available online are bicycles themselves. Online retailing of these items is problematic because bicycles, commonly shipped unassembled, would then have to be assembled by the purchaser, which in turn would be cause for significant product liability concerns. Brauns has decided to restrict bicycle sales to their retail store.

The sophisticated design of the Brauns Online web site has brought significant benefits to the company. As previously noted, Brauns has moved from being a single location, community based retail operation to a business selling its products in over 40 countries. Along the way, its web site has become a popular one for 'net visitors seeking information on cycling and fitness in general. There are several reasons for its success not least because Brauns Online is open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (24 x 7). As well, there are exchange advantages against Canadian currency in many countries into which Brauns is now selling. These advantages have been facilitated by the exchange and shipping calculation software which operates behind the customer interface. In the past, the manual processing of customer inquiry, quotes, submission/response was very time consuming. with complete online, real time automation, response time is more or less immediate. This encourages impulse buying and in retail sales, the factor of "buying when excited" is a significant factor. Moreover, many consumers are simply too busy to shop during regular store hours. Another notable software component is the "multiple pricing capability" that powers the Club Tread member online discount concept. At Brauns Online several "real world" limitations of time and space have been overcome with customized web software.

This background enabling software was custom developed in partnership with Braun's web host, The Galileo Group Inc. Very soon after establishing their WWW presence with Spokes Plus, the two companies began to work together on new, even experimental features for what was to become Brauns Online. As both Robert Braun and Bryon Thur of Galileo acknowledge, Brauns Online acted as an R & D site for the Galileo Group. Out of this working relationship emerged the Brauns Online software package (shipping, currency exchange and multiple pricing calculators and site administrator) that recently has been designated as Galileo Commerce and which The Galileo Group is now successfully marketing to other clients who are upgrading existing web sites or developing new ones.

Why was the apparently unique partnership between Braun's and Galileo successful? In Bryon Thur's view, the determining factor was that Robert Braun was interested in the potential of internet technology and willing to take some risks. He provided Galileo with ideas and technical challenges. From Robert's point of view, Galileo "had the willingness to listen, to try out new ideas" and to take the risks in its turn that are involved in developmental time investment. Brauns "wouldn't otherwise have had the tools to do what we wanted to do." The payback for Galileo is that the company "is now using technology that Braun's drove them to develop."

For both companies, the ROI [return on investment -ed] for internet technology cannot be accurately calculated in dollars and cents. While both companies have experienced a measurable increase and expansion of business as a result of their respective investments in this area, there is for Braun's on the one hand, the intangible benefit of community goodwill generated by their Cycling Club pages, and on the other, for Galileo, the learning and skill acquisition resulting from developing new technology. For both companies, however, the overall results are unequivocally positive.

Spokes Plus

Touring With Braun's Cycling Club

The Club Tread Reports

The Galileo Group Inc.

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