MYSTERY SHOPPER: Colchester Part Two

The second part of Mystery Shopper's trip to the Essex town...
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The second part of Mystery Shopper's trip to the Essex town...

Read the first part of this feature here.

Colchester Cycle Stores
Colchester Cycle Stores was the only shop located on a busy town centre street. On entry, Mystery Shopper was greeted by an attentive assistant.

Having listened to my brief and understanding that I was in two minds whether to opt for a road bike, or a fixed gear, the staff member recommended I visit local eco-friendly business Cycle Re-cycle, which could supply me with a low-priced recycled frameset, on which the Colchester Cycle Store could build me a custom rig to perfectly suit my needs. This was either a nifty up-sell, or some very friendly advice and a kind gesture toward the local cycle refurbish business. Either way, the store had the stock to fulfil the promise of a tidy custom build.

When I suggested that I might be too lazy to go down the custom route, I was shown to a line of Orbeas, which began at my quoted budget. It was explained to me that the frameset alone makes up near 90 per cent of the price, so essentially I would be receiving the rest of the bike at ‘unbelievable value’. It was a strong sales pitch. Only a few minor prompts for upsell opportunities were missed, making for an all-round very professional sales experience.

Thomas’ Cycle Revolution

BikeBiz’s visit was perhaps badly timed for this store – Mystery Shopper turned up during refurbishment, as well as a busy period. But the staff weren’t distracted by this and were all busy attending customers.

Having walked the store for ten minutes, it was clear that staff were going to be tied down with genuine customers for a while longer, so Mystery Shopper did not interfere. The experience was saved by some excellent display cards, which had brilliantly worked out finance plans for each bike, which ultimately led me to look at higher priced models.

Based on the education some header cards provided, combined with a bit of cheeky eavesdropping on other customers’ conversations, Mystery Shopper concluded that had I arrived at a more convenient time, Thomas’ Cycle Revolution could very well have been a top performer.

Each Colchester store had something to match Mystery Shopper’s requests for a university workhorse, though opinions were divided over whether a road bike or a fixed gear would serve best at my up-to-£500 price point.

BikeBiz may well wrongly suspect the Cyclelife store as having sussed out the ‘media student’ in their store. If that is the case, then Colchester’s division of Cyclelife truly deserved a sale.

Among the other stores, we feel Halfords staff could have been a little braver, while Cycle King, focusing on the lower end of the market, could upsell a little more. All in all though, there was very little else Colchester’s stores did ‘wrong’.

The fixed gear trend wasn’t favoured with retailers outside London. “It’s not my thing” and “they can be dangerous” were some of the comments received.

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