Comment: What do I have to do to get a trade account around here?

BikeBiz mulls over whether or not suppliers should exclusively serve traditional channels, or whether times are changing...
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The phrase ‘in this day and age’ has been thrown around a lot in BikeBiz columns of late, with discussions on a product’s route to market, whether or not the UK is ready to embrace the electric bike and technology advances just some of the topics covered.

During my time with the couple behind this month’s dealer profile, found here, a few things struck me that perhaps just a few years ago wouldn’t have raised eyebrows and left me thinking “that still happens?”

Listening to the quite inspiring VeloVixen story, I was presented with an aspirational pair, keen to do business, but not necessarily via the ‘traditional’ channels. Nonetheless, having extensively researched their market and spotted something of a gap, they were as deserving as any other of the industry’s time.

During the early days of creating their online-only portal, establishing suppliers was described as ‘occasionally difficult’. This was simply because the upstart had decided a bricks and mortar store simply wasn’t yet sustainable, given the nature of the business, and certainly not a viable platform to begin with.

Of course, from a supplier’s perspective, I understand the reluctance to deal with just anybody. The internet is an unruly place at the best of times and incredibly hard to police if you’ve strict rules that apply to pricing of product. We are, however, talking about large companies not giving upstarts the time of day on some occasions, which for a business that thinks it’s spotted a gap in the market, must be incredibly disheartening and frustrating.

With online retail an ever-growing and almost vital part of the front line industry, is now the time to re-think policies on whether or not a business must have a bricks and mortar store in order to be worthy of a trade account?

As a side note, the article on VeloVixen (although I would say this) is one of the must-read articles within this month’s magazine. Though not wanting to be defined by their journey thus far, the pair have achieved an incredible amount in a relatively short space of time, both personally and as an interactive, enthusiastic business.

We at BikeBiz wish the team all the best in its goal of becoming a ‘hub’ for women’s cycling, both for beginners and professional riders alike.

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