Matt is Back
This post is written by Matt from Just Riding Along. While you’ve been hearing him for years on Just Riding Along, this is his second written post on the Mountain Bike Radio blog. You can contact Matt at Matt@Mountainbikeradio.com for any questions, comments, or ideas for future posts.
The Evolution of the Bike Shop
Where is the Bike Shop Going?
The bicycle has rapidly evolved since the turn of this millennium. We have properly damped and valved suspension, nearly any part of the bike can be made from carbon fiber, and bicycle geometry is only more accommodating than ever before. The one thing in the bicycle industry that has remained fairly consistent is the model of the bike shop.
There is a large amount of retail space dedicated to sales and a relatively speaking small footprint for the parts and service portion of that business. A portion of service is even dedicated to supporting sales: all of those new bikes on the sales floor had to be assembled.
Over the last few years the shopping culture for parts and accessories has been rapidly shifting towards an online model, but recently some big name players in the industry have shifted towards a consumer facing sales model. I avoid saying consumer direct at this point because Trek is going to have the bike shipped to the bike shop of your choosing for assembly. I believe more companies will adopt similar models and that the landscape of the current bike shop will only evolve as time continues to march forward.
I am most familiar with Trek as I am currently working for a Trek dealer and moving forward will base my example around that single brand. I understand not all brands will follow this model but the Trek model is what started this whole idea. Trek has rolled out their consumer facing sales model. This model gives the consumer the ability to shop online and any Trek or Bontrager product is shipped to the Trek store of their choosing.
Trek has also started a certification process to train service employees. This certification is to ensure all Trek bicycles are properly assembled, diagnosed, and routinely serviced in order to give Trek customers the best user experience.
Location, Location, Location
The parts and accessories sales do not really concern me, those items will be bought and shipped to any store. The location a customer picks up their new shoes will be a convenience factor. I want to illustrate my point solely on bicycles – something that the local bike shop is currently dedicating a majority of retail space and staff towards, and how the bike shop has to evolve to match that.
When Trek revealed their plans for a certification process, I felt the communal groan throughout the industry. We have been assembling their bikes for 15 years, why do I need to pay them to tell me my mechanics are good? The catch is, you don’t. A shop does not have to spend money in order to be told their seasoned mechanics are qualified, competent, and valued employees. You have to pay Trek to advertise that you have mechanics Trek knows are good.
What a shop must do is make the investment in order to have Trek display on their website that your shop has 12 Ninja Level Service Wizards* and that the competitor shop has fewer. As a shop I need Trek to be my biggest proponent in this rapidly evolving bike shop landscape. The situation where this is the most beneficial is for the 20 year old first time bike buyer.
The age of this buyer is important: they are just young enough that they have always purchased through the internet. When this buyer, who has never been into any bike shop, goes to Trek’s website and is deciding to ship their bike to Joe’s Bikes or Jim’s Bikes they will be influenced by how many Ninja Level Service Wizards the shop has on staff. If the shop has made the investment to send the employees to be Trek certified, they will get the new customer. When this customer, who purchased directly from Trek, comes to pick their bike up from the shop, they will then become your customer. If the bike is dialed and perfect, the staff is friendly, and the shop is clean, then you will be able to convert that first time internet buyer into a lifelong brick and mortar customer.
Matt’s Final Thought
I believe that bike companies are making this shift towards consumer facing sales today because they accept that, at both the Trek and the shop level, there is a need for adjustment and growth with this type of program. My prediction is the success of this program will really take off by 2020 – when the online shopper is old enough and mature enough to drop $3000 on a bike through their smartphone.
*I have no idea what Trek is going to call these certified mechanics, but that name would make on helluva hat pin.
Thanks again for reading. If you’re interested in my first post about , please check it out HERE.