Eleiko, a company originally known for selling small kitchen appliances, underwent a major transformation in the late 1950s. When the company decided to stop making toasters and waffle irons and start producing weightlifting bars made exclusively from high-quality Swedish steel, the move raised eyebrows across the entire weightlifting world. Since then, Eleiko bars have taken the world by storm–not to mention the role the bars have played in setting over 1,000 world records. Today, Eleiko supplies equipment for weightlifting, powerlifting and strength training to international competitions and training facilities across over 180 countries. Eleiko now finds itself ready for the next transformation. After selling equipment exclusively to professional buyers, the company is now launching its first e-commerce outlet.
New lifestyle patterns accelerated launch plans
Erik Blomberg, CEO and owner of Eleiko Group AB, explains how the company had been developing a strategy to launch an online store for about a year. Initially, the company planned on launching a new platform towards the end of 2020, but the outbreak of the coronavirus and the lifestyle changes it brought around the world resulted in a change in plans:
– When avid exercise enthusiasts could no longer hit the gym as usual, the demand for home fitness products increased quickly. The biggest demand was in the UK, where just about every day we received inquiries directly from consumers who wanted to be able to exercise safely in their home. We decided we needed to act fast!
Although the initiative to invest in e-commerce was accelerated by the outbreak of the pandemic, Eleiko was already well prepared in many ways.
– We had done a thorough study and evaluated a number of alternatives and platforms for how we would implement our solution at the beginning of the year. Now we decided to put the plan into effect immediately rather than waiting for the fall as planned, Erik says.
Flexibility and support for rapid internationalization are crucial to success
Erik explains that when choosing Litium as a partner, the friendly response and opportunity for close and constructive dialogue with the technical support team were important factors. Equally crucial was the flexibility Litium offered as a platform, where the support for many different channels was a perfect fit for Eleiko's global initiatives:
– The way we do business today, in over 100 different countries, places demands on the digital platform. The fact that we are active within so many different geographic markets creates a complex structure—we need to handle a variety of currencies, different languages, different brands and different inventory. Thanks largely to the support for all product variants and the fact that a ready-made PIM system is integrated in Litium, we were able to get a solution on track significantly faster than we had planned. Instead of having a time-to-market period lasting several months as we planned, we got our first website up in a few weeks.
After the successful rollout of a pilot in the UK in April of 2020, consumers in Sweden, Norway and Denmark are now also able to buy products directly from Eleiko online.
Successive rollout across a large portion of the globe
Following the launch in the UK and Scandinavian markets, the plan is to roll out the e-commerce solution in the remainder of the European market and then in the US.
– In practice, we have everything we need built into the solution we are now launching, so we will be able to roll it out all over the world—ready to handle different languages, currencies, inventories and brands. The fact that we are taking a gradual approach to opening up e-commerce solutions in different markets has nothing to do with technology, it is about the fact that we do not want to rush the rollout of a new business model in the organization. We want to allow each market to adapt to the transition to digital commerce at its own pace.
The plan also includes the opportunity to broaden the solution, so that it is not only directed to end consumers but also provides an easy way for gyms and other professional buyers to make purchases online:
– We will always primarily be a premium brand, where the core of our business is acting as a partner to the professional market. Traditionally, we have only used direct sales in the B2B segment. Now we will also be able to offer training facilities and competitions the opportunity to buy our products online. With a sales target of 1 billion Swedish kronor by 2024, we also have a goal for digital sales to account for about a quarter of all sales. In order to succeed, we need to be able to offer an integrated experience tailored to both B2B and B2C customers. And one that ultimately supports our actual mission – to help make people stronger so they can perform better in sports and their daily lives,” Erik concludes.