There’s no doubt that cycle retailing has changed beyond recognition over the past ten years or so, with many IBDs feeling threatened by online retail for the best part of a decade.
However, the marketplace continues to shift and the minefield of SEO, price wars and various other hard-to-know-what-to-do-for-the-best topics is a daunting prospect for many retailers. Bikesoup thinks it has the solution for the IBD and recently brought together some industry faces to debate the topic, including Ana Nichoola founder Anna Glowinski, Sigma Sport’s Ian Whittingham and Upgrade Bikes’ Rory Hitchens.
Whittingham said: “Online retailing has changed out of all recognition in the last three or so years. It’s been incredible. We had plans for five or six Sigma Sports around the country, but that’s all changed, completely. It’s about how much harder it is to run a bricks and mortar shop now, with the growing online space and the pressure on price that brings.
“Wiggle are the absolute key player, they are slick at customer service. They’re the Amazon of our space. Five years ago you took your chance as a customer buying online and service was poor, but now that’s all changed.”
Hitchens said: “The landscape has changed rapidly for CRC. They grew rapidly and now they’re being realistic about what stock they hold and can afford to hold and are being more trim in what they cover. They were quite different companies, but now CRC is drilling down and refining what it is stocking.”
Glowinski: “From a brand’s perspective, the margins are better working with online retail, but most important is to have control of your brand. I want to be able to work closely with a retailer.”
Hitchens added: “As a distributor we are fortunate the top online retailers are UK companies because they’re customers of us. But there are others coming in. Last year Halfords pulled their socks up and are getting into the online game in a bigger way. Initially there were US companies leading the way online but now we’re seeing German companies coming through.”
Whittingham added: “The online guys in Europe are behind the curve, but they’re catching up."
Pic credit: mattjalexander.com
Bikesoup.com’s online bicycle marketplace is a gamechanger for bike dealers, the firm reckons. Aiming to work with independent retailers to give them a strong collective voice and better exposure online, Bikesoup is promising a cost effective way to advertise stock online, reach new customers and compete with industry giants.
Following significant investment from fashion entrepreneur Touker Suleyman, the firm has revamped its offering, all based around the concept of driving footfall into bricks and mortar shops.
The firm says: “Bike shop owners and staff are pressed for time. Signing up to Bikesoup makes the online world effortless, relieving retailers of the need to navigate their way through the complexities of delivering and maintaining their own websites. It offers a mobile and tablet-ready site that will continue to stay up to date with online technology.
“With over 4,500 pre-loaded bike specs and images across 70 brands, dealers can upload their stock to a fully customised page within seconds.”
Further services coming soon on Bikesoup.com include ‘Click & Collect’ – delivering sales and driving store traffic – and a Store Finder with a fully searchable brand database that connects consumers with their local shops.
Founder and MD Antony Auty added: “Our goal at Bikesoup is to level the online playing field with an easy to use, low maintenance, cost effective solution that maximises visibility of dealer stock. We can help dealers achieve increased sales – leaving them free to build a loyal customer base via in-store engagement and social networks”.
Bikesoup works in partnership with ActSmart – the business support organisation for specialist retailers, their supply partners and trade associations – to help drive consumers directly to IBDs and promote in-shop bike purchases in line with major bike brands’ selling policies.