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Swytch Bike x GoBolt: A Spotlight on Navigating Supply Chain Sustainability

Choosing the right third-party logistics (3PL) provider is a strategic decision that can significantly impact a brand’s operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and overall competitiveness in the market. Read on for a closer look at one of GoBolt’s merchant partners. 

Swytch Bike is the leading e-bike conversion kit provider in the United Kingdom, putting more electric bikes on the road in the country than any other e-bike company. The company began working with GoBolt several years ago for fulfillment support in Canada and became one of GoBolt’s first merchants in the United States. 

For this Merchant Spotlight, we chat with Charlie Newton, Swytch Bike’s Chief Manufacturing Officer, on logistics challenges, consumer expectations on sustainability, and Swytch Bikes’ broader mission in providing sustainable transportation solutions.

For context, will you give some background on Swytch Bike’s partnership with GoBolt?

CN: We’ve been working with GoBolt in the U.S. for about a year now and the LA warehouse can push through more orders than any other provider. As we’ve grown in size, our move to GoBolt has allowed us to keep up. And the LA warehouse is our highest performing in the world. With GoBolt, we’ve now shipped 15,000 kits in the U.S. plus another 8,000 in Canada. These numbers are huge compared to where we were as a company two or three years ago. GoBolt has helped us scale and handle the chaos of launching a new product with tight timelines. 

How do you perceive consumer expectations regarding sustainability in the retail industry? 

CN: This is quite a tough question. I think if a product is the same price as a competitor’s product and it’s as good, then customers choose a sustainable option over the regular option. But if there is a big price difference, consumers will tend to vote with their wallets. 

That’s one of the challenges we find at Swytch Bikes. Thankfully, we have a product that is by nature a cheaper way to get a sustainable e-bike without actually buying an e-bike. We are also more environmentally sustainable because of our circular economy model where customers are recycling their existing bikes by adding on an electrification system rather than buying a new bike. With the market being price sensitive, we’re quite lucky that our product is not just the best e-bike out there but it is also the cheapest way to get an e-bike. Because of that, we see a lot of sustainable-minded customers buying our products. 

How does sustainability align with Swytch Bike’s overall business values?

CN: First, some context. If you drive a petrol/gas car, you are producing lots of CO2 emissions. If you convert to an electric car, you are obviously much more energy efficient so long as you are using renewable energy sources. The energy expended in a 3-ton car is much higher than if you are traveling by bicycle or foot. And a bicycle is way more efficient than walking. 

My favorite fact about all of this is that the amount of CO2 humans exhale by cycling somewhere is higher than the CO2 produced by using an electric bike. So an e-bike is more efficient than the human lung system. We’re at the pinnacle of the most efficient form of sustainable transportation. It’s micro mobility, and that is where we believe the future is going. 

Coming back to our company mission, we want everyone to have access to an e-bike, to this micro mobility revolution. In that way, we believe we have a positive influence on the planet and climate change. GoBolt is helping us achieve this across Canada and the U.S. 

How important was it for your company to align itself with a logistics provider that also valued sustainability? 

CN: It was definitely something that we had in mind. We have a head start against most other companies because the product we make is inherently sustainable. We haven’t run the numbers on it though. It’s quite hard to track scope one, two and three emissions through a supply chain. We haven’t been able to do that yet. But it’s an aspirational target across our organization to do that in the next couple of years. 

As an organization we want to have a stamp, to be able to say we are carbon neutral at the very least. It is quite hard to do that with our supply chain at present, but whenever we choose to onboard someone new, like GoBolt, sustainability is something we think about. As we move toward becoming a B Corp, net zero or any of these designations, GoBolt is a great partner in the U.S. and Canada who can help us meet, or make progress toward, our future goals. 

How does Swytch Bike prioritize sustainable logistics?

CN: Every extra cost we spend in our supply chain is an extra cost to our customer, so our sustainable solutions have to fit within basic capitalism and economics. Then it’s about finding ways where it’s even physically possible. If we have to air ship our product everywhere, it isn’t possible to make that carbon neutral without planting like a million trees somewhere. But we can utilize electric delivery vans to make our deliveries. The problem is, such technology is very expensive. There’s a huge capital investment needed to make that work. In the U.K. this is something we are still working on. We actually handled our own deliveries for a period of time. And if we could have gotten our hands on eclectic vans we would have. But the investment and the lead times on such vehicles were big hurdles. 

That’s why it’s been great partnering with GoBolt on our logistics in the U.S. and Canada. GoBolt is one of the few companies offering a sustainable solution. 

Do you have any logistics advice you’d like to pass along to other retailers?

CN: It’s always important to get to know the people in your logistics operation. For us, the problems we have with some of our other warehouses is that we just talk to a screen, to a system. When there is a problem though, humans can solve what systems cannot. 

With GoBolt, however, we have direct, open communications with the warehouse site lead – we always know what is happening in the warehouse. We know if there are a lot of other orders being processed one week that might slow ours down a bit. Or we can ask GoBolt to be ready when our 500 orders arrive in a few weeks. Having these open communications and sharing our forecasting with GoBolt has resulted in a much smoother operation. 

It’s important to have a partner that you can talk to, grow with and collaborate together. At the end of the day, we are all humans surrounded by systems. Instead of finding a partner that you just talk to a system, find a partner that you can talk to the humans and iterate continuously to improve operations and problem solve whenever things go wrong. Nobody cares when things are going smoothly. No one sells praise. People care when things are going badly. So, find a partner that you can rely on, a company batting on the same team when things get tough. 

And, I’d like to say another thing about GoBolt. GoBolt’s dashboard and return system is the nicest user interface of any of our partners. The return system is by a long way the best system we have across any of our partners around the world. 

Thanks for joining us, Charlie! 
Learn more about how GoBolt’s tech-forward, third-party logistics and fulfillment operations help brands deliver stellar customer support experiences, by contacting our team.