SHOW REVIEW: IceBike 2009

Madison estimates that nearly four in five of its customers visited February’s IceBike show. Mark Sutton talks to Dominic Langan about the value of holding an expenses-paid house show...
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The prototype 953 Reynolds tubed Ridgeback Altitude that sat in the IceBike reception tent was perhaps a clue to all attendees that February’s show had plenty of previously unseen and eagerly anticipated kit on display. Of all the things to gear trade members up for a day of making stock choices for the summer, this bike alone was enough to set the tone for the rest of the show.

With volumes of new season product debuting at IceBike, plus the promise of evening entertainment, special offers (note the queue at Shimano’s shoe forming station) and visits from some highly respected industry speakers, it would have been hard for dealers not to justify a day or two away from the shop for IceBike.

And that’s exactly why Madison puts on three days of expenses covered showtime – to spend time re-affirming its commitment to the retailer.

“I believe we created a significant enough event to justify the time it demands from our customers. The trade response to IceBike was very positive and much improved on last year. Over the three days we saw customers representing close to 80 per cent of our total business in terms of turnover; last year it was 68 per cent. I don’t think there was ever a dull moment, to the extent that we had to ask some customers to leave at the end of the day so we could get the space ready for the evening’s entertainment,” commented Madison MD Dominic Langan.

Presumably, one of the main reasons for customers hanging around at the end of the day is the sheer volume of content to see and do. Take, for example, industry retail speaker Jay Townley’s speech – near two hours long, the majority of seats were filled during most seminars and some were scribbling notes.

Then of course the crowds were keen to get a first-hand demo of Madison’s new B2B website upgrade, which went live on from March 1st.

Business systems manager Richard Hopfl demonstrated the vastly improved system to BikeBiz and there’s notable modernisation of the entire site, with speed and ease-of-use having benefited from investment.

Hopfl said: “The site is a whole load easier to navigate, with substantial improvements made to the shopping experience. News feeds have been added, scheduled email feeds can be set up, there’s a Vista desktop gadget for offline ordering and much more.”

Guest attendees were abundant too, with the ACT, ATG, Sustrans, Abacus and others all on hand to discuss building everything from business to cycle networks.

Epos company Abacus was talking dealers through its system, on which supplier information is already banked, thus simplifying the product search process. The system integrates plenty of slick marketing features such as text messaging alerts for alerting customers to workshop completions or stock updates.

MD Nick Lee told BikeBiz: “When times are tight, clever marketing tools are essential. The text message feature has the ability to efficiently manage and raise workshop activity, as well as blast promotional material to potential customers.”

Next door to the Abacus stall was SKS, which was showing details of the revamped RaceBlade mudguard, into which a lot of marketing effort has been driven. The popular guard now has a flexible spoiler for added protection, effectively preventing knocks to the end of the guard splitting the plastic.

Meanwhile, the company was also showing off its Aero fork adapter, a system which prevents any slight guard movements as a result of a new plastic rivet. In the midst of all the content, marketing director Will Fripp and Langan were mingling with dealers, getting a feel for what could be done better, if anything.

Langan told BikeBiz: “There is always room for improvement and for next year we will sort out the gremlins at registration to reduce the time it takes to get into the show and apologies to anyone who waited. We also want more space for our brands, as next year there will be even more, but at the same time we really value the unique location of our distribution centre grounds.

“We have some plans to address that challenge and we want to keep on evolving the event and add value and content to ensure it remains a valuable and worthwhile experience for our customers.”

Dates for IceBike 2010 are February 23rd/24th/25th.

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