Donny Perry of America has today published Leading Out Retail: A Creative Look at Bicycle Retail and What All Retailers Can Learn From It. Where can bike shops buy this book? On Amazon, of course. Independent book shops may not be happy about that but, as Perry shows in his book, the world has changed and the disruption is going to accelerate. Perry is the global development manager for the Specialized Bicycle Components University.
He said “I have visited over 500 bicycle retailers throughout the world and enjoyed learning from every one of them.”
In ‘Leading Out Retail’, Perry combines hundreds of hours of research, a dollop of social science, and counter-intuitive insights as he explores the massive shift in retailing in general, and bicycle retailing in particular.
Perry believes the future belongs to a “different kind of retailer with a different mindset.”
The first chapter of the book – “I was just riding along” - is available as a free PDF.
The book is US-centric but, in a global marketplace, this hardly matters. He also discusses the UK retail scene.
“Evans Cycles in the UK sells bikes both online and through one of their 50+ locations. In a recent survey they asked riders where they purchased their last bike and 26.6 percent purchased online,” says Perry in his book.
“The drop in the number of bike retailers is not going to be linear, it will be exponential. This is because independent, brick and mortar bike retailers are going to get hit from three sides. First, a larger amount of customers will choose online channels for research, and ultimately purchasing. The amount of accessible information combined with the ease of purchase has surpassed the capabilities of nearly every brick and mortar retailer…Many cyclists are very comfortable not visiting a store to purchase their bike.
“Some retailers suggest that with the growth of online purchasing the era of loyalty is gone. That customers used to be loyal to their local bike shop, and now they are just shopping based on price. I would disagree and instead suggest that customers were never as loyal as originally thought, they were just limited by selection. The local bike shop was their only source for information and the only place they could buy the product. Now with limitless selection, they’re spreading their dollar around and being more selective with whom they purchase from.”
Perry also discusses suppliers going consumer-direct:
“Apparel companies have proven that bike retailers are not needed to be successful at selling high-dollar, premier cycling apparel. Nearly every company making helmets will sell that helmet directly from their website and dozens of bike brands can be purchased through online retailers like Competitive Cyclist, Chain Reaction, or Wiggle. Like all other retail goods, shopping for cycling gear has never been easier.”
So, bike shops should turn to their workshop to power the business? Maybe not. “Bikes will become simpler to assemble, use, and maintain,” predicts Perry. “Even the most common repairs will be disrupted and as cycling technology advances riders won’t need bike shops for derailleur or brake adjustments either. We are in early days of electronic components and it will not be long before the simplest of adjustments are done by using an app, not a wrench.”
Using real-world examples, Perry shows how many local bike shops are thriving in a cut-throat world, by being smart with their social media footprint and by offering services that Wiggle can’t, such as bike fit.
“This book was written as a roadmap for the local bike shop during this time of disruption,” says Perry. “Plenty of people are offering strategic advice, they are shouting to grow community or engage customers in a different way, and I am sure their advice is spot on. However, what they are not teaching is how to do it. With this book I have no intention of offering only strategic advice; my aim is to provide simple, tactical processes for improving business and preparing for the next era of retail.”
The book shows how to implement procedures that will result in faster transactions, higher average sales, and lead to greater engagement with customers.
“How people will use a bike shop will make a drastic change in the next decade. When we respond to consumer demands, bike retail will move from a place that supplies goods to a place that offers unique services and cultivates a connection to the cycling community. Many retailers will struggle with this change and choose to close up shop. Others will be forced out if they cannot adapt quickly enough, but those who survive the next decade will live through the most dynamic and lasting change the world of retail will ever see.”
The book costs $8.42 (£5) for the Kindle version and $14.20 for the print edition.