The holy grail for the electric bikes market is, of course, getting the UK consumer to love e-bikes to the same degree as consumers in Northern Europe, where they are very big business indeed. Whether the trade should be trying to convert existing cyclists or go after a completely different market altogether is up for discussion, but one thing is for sure, there are some retailers who remain cagey about stepping into the electric bike market.
But just because the e-bike sector hasn’t (yet) reproduced that Holy Grail of umpteen sales as in the likes of Germany and the Netherlands, it doesn’t mean it’s not a lucrative sector to be involved in.
Which is where FreeGo comes in. The forward thinking brand has brought a new offer to the table, minimising the risk to retailers.
According to the firm, its Retail Demonstrator Plan for 2012 “overcomes any cash flow issues that are preventing outlets joining this rapidly growing market”.
In a nutshell, for under £200 a month, a retail outlet can hold sufficient FreeGo Demonstrator Electric Bikes to enable them to represent the brand and sell from, including personalised POS material.
“There are no negative cash flow implications with FreeGo whatsoever. There are no onerous stocking requirements, as the stock is held by FreeGo. Delivery for sold units is guaranteed for the next day.”
According to the firm, this unlocks the potential of a whole new group of customers who would never visit a cycle shop. But it isn’t the only trick up FreeGo’s sleeve. Finance plans and a unique first year bike exchange programme in the event of a malfunction are also part of FreeGo’s offering. Training (technical and sales) and promotion assistance are some of the more traditional types of support the brand offers too, which is on a national recruitment drive: “FreeGo is currently looking for outlets who, like us, are committed to customer satisfaction, can share the same vision as FreeGo and of course want to enjoy the very good margins that we have on FreeGo Electric Bikes.”
BikeBiz speaks to managing director and founder John Heath to find out more about the FreeGo’s offering...
Can you give us some background to the brand?
FreeGo Electric Bikes is the culmination of four years intensive research into the emerging electric bike industry. Having watched this market grow from its embryonic beginnings, it became apparent that there were several key issues which stopped people purchasing these kind of bikes.
Most importantly was the reliability factor; having spoken with many independent bike shops, the biggest criticism was after sales, repairs and availability of spare parts; this culminated in a customer’s electric bike being off the road for far too long. In many cases the bike shops ended up reimbursing their customers with a full refund, which is clearly an unacceptable situation.
FreeGo Electric Bikes only sell their bikes through carefully selected outlets, ones that can offer an after sales service which is industry leading. They do not, nor ever will, sell directly to the public, delivering bikes in boxes.
To underpin the message of quality and reliability all FreeGo bikes come with an industry leading, unique warranty.
If during the first year of ownership a Freego bike malfunctions and cannot be repaired within five working days, a new bike will be given to the customer, with no cost whatsoever, either to the shop or the customer.
This has given the FreeGo range of bikes huge credibility within this rapidly growing market place. Indeed it’s a measure of the confidence that we have in our products.
What demographic are your bikes pitched at?
All FreeGo Bikes look stunning and come in many different colours, including Pink Champagne. The age range of FreeGo bikes users is between 30 and 91 (being the oldest customer) and many are purchased through cycle to work schemes, for motorhome and caravan owners, leisure and bike hire companies... in fact, the market is only limited by one’s imagination.
Do you export to any other countries?
FreeGo are currently selling in the UK, but January 2012 sees the first shipment to Australia, which it is hoped will be the start of many. It is the intention of the directors to expand overseas, but only when a suitable outlet is found.
How many dealers have you got in Britain?
2012 will see the dealer network grow to around 150, giving us representation in most areas of the UK. “It’s important for our customers to know that they are not very far from a FreeGo Outlet. With the new Dealer lease package, the FreeGo range can be represented for under £200 per month, again another industry first. When it comes to looking after our outlets and our customers nobody in the market does it better than FreeGo.
How can dealers get in touch?
To be part of the team that are going places in our rapidly expanding market, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or contact 0800 077 8711