January 11, 2011, 4:36 PM

Radio Flyer takes the plunge into e-commerce

The maker of kids’ wagons and bikes puts its priority on engagement, not sales.

Lead Photo

Many manufacturers hesitated to sell to consumers online, for fear of angering the retailers that constitute their major sales channel. But a growing number of manufacturers have launched direct-to-consumer commerce sites in recent years, and among the latest is Radio Flyer, the maker of kids’ scooters, wagons, tricycle and bicycles.

Radio Flyer began selling replacements parts from RadioFlyer.com in February 2010 and selling new products in September.

“We’ve been seeing how online has been continuing to grow and where consumers are looking to understand more about products,” says Radio Flyer marketing manager Melissa Enos. “Consumers are researching online and engaging with friends online. We saw it as an opportunity to create a destination where consumers can learn more about Radio Flyer products.”

To that end, the site includes product videos, and lets visitors ask questions about products that customer service agents reply to online. The company follows those questions and updates product content if it sees from customers’ questions that something is not clear, Enos says.

During the recent holiday season, Radio Flyer used the new site to engage with its customers. A Little Red Workshop feature let consumers upload photos of themselves or their children to create holiday cards they could send to friends and relatives. Consumers could also create a wish list on the site.

An ongoing feature of the site allows parents to create a personalized Radio Flyer license for their child, by uploading her photo to the site and choosing the Radio Flyer vehicle she will be driving. Radio Flyer then products a photo ID that includes photos of the child and her ride.

Radio Flyer, which is privately held, does not disclose its online sales. But when it comes to sales, the company’s focus remains on working with retailers that sell its products, Enos says. That includes putting a Where to Buy button at the top of the home page so consumers can find a nearby shop selling Radio Flyer products. “We haven’t seen any sign of our dot-com site impacting retailers,” Enos says.

Acquity Group, a digital marketing firm, designed the new RadioFlyer.com using e-commerce software from Magento. The aim was to enable Radio Flyer’s marketing team to change images and text on the site without help from its I.T. team or Acquity, and Enos says that’s been achieved.

Acquity chose the Magento software because it includes ready-made elements that could be applied to the Radio Flyer project, says Matt Dirks, portfolio director at Acquity. He says it took about two months of working with Radio Flyer to develop the concept for the new site and about two and a half months to build it with the Magento software.

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