Mystery shopper visited solely independent retailers on this visit to Ipswich, though very little defined one from another. Find out why here:
Thomas's Cycle Revolution - 4/5
Of the stores visited Mystery Shopper felt Thomas’s Cycle Revolution to be the best presented, much thanks to the amount of natural light in store due to its glass front.
The counter overlooked the majority of the store too, so it wasn’t long before Mystery Shopper was met. The assistant got off to an encouraging start, admitting that no stock was currently in store, but informing me that I had the choice of two brands, offering his preference immediately when hearing my budget.
Explaining to me that the only difference between the two brands appeared to be the price, I felt the store was keen to help me achieve the most from my budget.
Advising on the warranty of the two brands was also a key differentiating point between Thomas’s store and others. Highlight several manufacturing strengths of the specialist, I felt the assistant was pitching a product he believed to be good enough for his own use – and bang on budget.
Elmy Cycles - 3/5
By far the busiest of the stores visited, Elmy Cycles staff were all tied up when Mystery Shopper arrived. When met, as in other stores, it was explained that few models were stocked, though a variety of bikes could be ordered in and built inside three working days.
A Ridgeback folding bike was recommended over the other stocked brands, largely justified by the difference in build quality, but with the mention that with this brand a carry bag came as standard. Though this is a decision of Ridgebacks, it reflects well on the shop to be able to offer these add on conveniences.
Differences in gearing specs were detailed in the pitch, which would help a customer understand gearhubs and the low maintenance associated with them. Though at a price, this may appeal to some and Mystery Shopper was glad the salesman went into this detail.
A Ridgeback catalogue was handed over as a point of reference. The only real criticism to be had here was a slightly cluttered arrangement of bikes.
Ranelagh Cycle Warehouse - 3/5
Perhaps the largest store of the Ipswich tour, Ranelagh Cycle Warehouse had a wide and diverse stock, though again, few folders.
Mystery Shopper had a brief nose around before seeking attention, but was almost floored on his way to the folding bikes by a few bikes hanging dangerously low from ceiling fixings. Apologies to the road bike I headbutted…
An assistant met me while browsing the store and begun to share his knowledge of what the Ranelagh could offer, though models would have to be ordered in to satisfy my budget. My concerns about the bike unhinging while being carried were directly addressed with the flagging up of a model equip with magnetic closure. It was bang on budget too, so it seemed the assistant knew his stuff. A £35 bag was also offered as a solution to easy carriage.
Recommending I spend the full £400, the assistant bolstered his recommendation by explaining what each price point would deliver.
Moon's Cyclelife - 3/5
As a Cyclelife retailer, the low stock levels of folding bikes at Moon’s wasn’t an issue.
"We can have any bike on Cyclelife.com in a matter of days," Mystery Shopper was informed. "You can even order it to our store online and we’ll have it fully serviced and ready for you just as fast."
It seems that the Cyclelife website works well as a sales tool for those enrolled on Raleigh’s concept store scheme. The assistant was keen to show off the promotions to be had with online orders, including £30 plus worth of free accessories with a bike sale such as mine. Sensible things, such as locks and helmets, were recommended as a priority.
Adding his personal thoughts on the cheaper end of the market gave Mystery Shopper the feeling that a beginner cyclist would be won over and leave satisfied enough to part ways with some hard earned. A free service was offered once the bike had been ‘ridden in’, too. A solid and concise sales performance, even if it did rely on virtual web-props.
Phil's Bike Company - 1/5
Listed as an Action Bikes outlet on Google it took Mystery Shopper a short while to spot Phil’s Bikes, despite a High Street location.
The store itself was quite deep so held a diverse stock, though very few folding bikes were available. In fact, the assistant whose attention was hard to keep throughout, believed that there was just the one model in stock, though BikeBiz’s spy actually spotted another, which just happened to match the quoted budget for which, "nothing was in stock."
When further pressure was applied by Mystery Shopper, the man behind the counter took a few moments away from the computer screen to discuss possibilities, though didn’t seem too fussed about making a sale.
If Mystery Shopper had anything more than Monopoly money to part with, this store would without doubt be £400 down. To be unaware that the perfect bike for a customer’s needs is sat on your shelves is top of Mystery Shopper’s list of retail sins.