Comment: Should independents worry about outdoor multiples?

Decathlon has a strong reputation in mainland Europe and its growing in the UK, as is Go Outdoors - both sell and repair bikes
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I’ve read a number of articles this month on the subject of marketing to non-enthusiasts. On the face of it, the bicycle industry seems to be wary of reaching out beyond the comfort zone of enthusiasts.

At a retail level and with minimal spend to be had on placing adverts, banking one-time customer’s details on clever EPoS and utilising social media platforms may seem like the only way to progress. However, as many will have found, both require perseverance to gain any ground.

If retail and the wider industry doesn’t make further progress in luring in the masses to two wheel travel, my conclusion has to be that the consumers will continue to browse within their comfort zone – which means one thing, shopping convenience. Most large towns now have retail parks, often found on the main artery roads into town.

If you follow the antics of BikeBiz’s Mystery Shopper, you’ll have seen by now occasional reports of chains challenging the notion that personal, or in fact qualified and competent service, is exclusive to the specialist independents.

Just this month, the review of Go Outdoors, an outsider... in the bike business, suggested on many levels that, with the right staff and equipment in store, sales to a non-savvy, but curious shopper can be as simple as listening to the customer, being polite and sounding like you know what you’re talking about.

I suspect that when we eventually stumble across the expanding Decathlon network that the reputation the firm has in mainland Europe may prove dangerous, not only to small stores, but perhaps even to the likes of Halfords.

To put it into context, if I were to suddenly develop an interest in fishing, for example, convenience would place me back in Go Outdoors, simply because I’ve no idea where my local independent is found. I’d probably check Amazon too, but that’s another kettle of fish altogether.

Before I have a stab at a solution, I’d be interested to hear from the trade on the best methods to entice non cyclists in store, so don’t be shy, get in touch.

The DIY approach and one which I know to work in other professions, is the old fashioned leaflet drop. With no shortage of bikes sat in sheds waiting for a sunny day rush on the nation’s workshops, perhaps it’s time to beat the Jet Stream’s journey back north and get those customers flowing in evenly, as opposed to a mad rush as the mercury rises.

It wasn’t so long ago that Raleigh ran national newspaper advertising promoting its 100-plus Cyclelife stores. Perhaps other large labels could consider supporting their dealer network in this way?

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Trek UK I Milton Keynes I Competitive Salary I Date Published Wednesday 20th March 2018