The bike industry is struggling. Shops are closing daily and others must be downsizing in order to stay buoyant. Many blame internet sales tactics or economic factors at play. Looking in from the outside now that I’m not a part of the machine I can see some reasons for this collapse.
A choice isn’t what we need!
Shops give too much choice. If I walk into my local bike shop I can pick from 4 brands of road bike at exactly the same price. The staff have their favorites and generally know which is the best value so don’t struggle to sell that model, but the other three sit until September rolls around and it has to be sold at a reduced rate. The shop sells these models at a reduced rate and the consumers are willing to accept an older model since there is technically only marginal gains if any to the newer model.
Perverse pre orders
As this is taking place, the shop is filling out it’s pre-order, having to hit minimum quantities of models that it already had in stock (previous years colour) and is struggling to move on. The most popular models or those price well are excluded from the pre order totals as they will sell for sure. If the store refuse to buy the new models then they loose the best rate or the dealership entirely. So the cycle continues. Driving down the profit further and further.
The sales team working for the distributors have strict targets and staff turnover is high, its rare to see a brand representative last more than 2 years currently. This means they are fighting hard to hit their targets and push the bike shops to buy more.
The solution as I see it, you may disagree and please comment below about this. Is for the bike shop to make decisions and not overstock. Hi I’m Steve and I work here, you want a road bike at £1000 well we searched high and low and selected this model as the best, we all agree that the BLANK offers great value and hits all the points you need to get a great ride. No question, no choice, but no distraction or hesitation either. Many times have I seen a sales person give too many choices to a customer who essentially wanted to be told what to buy from a professional. Make your purchase decisions and stand by them. Less stock, lower overheads, larger size range, there are many benefits. Worried that’s not enough choice? Stock some frames of different colours and rebuild the bikes you have to offer a custom solution to the man who doesn’t want black or red. Chose a great bike in each category and you have a shop, a much smaller shop which is sustainable and stands behind the bikes it chooses to sell rather than fights against itself.
Week old bread.
The second solution is for the shops to stock brands which do not release a new version of the same bike every year. Why not buy some stock that doesn’t have a 12 month shelf life (if you are lucky enough to receive stock on time)and needs to be reduced the second a new colour is discovered. Kinesis, surly, litespeed, cove, (showing my age) but whatever, these brands exist!
The big supermarkets are doing the same thing, offer 40 different cereals and all you manage to do is spend more on the stock. Aldi and Lidl stock six types of cereal. What happens when you shop in Lidl? You buy what’s available and find that actually, their cereal does the job very well just as any £1000 road bike will do.
What happens with the empty space in the shop if we stock less bikes? Why not increase foot traffic by giving people a reason to visit other than to buy. Your shop is guaranteed empty for at least 50% of every day unless you do any of these. Notice yourself buying a book whilst in a Waterstones having a coffee in their cafe? Why not open a cycle race cinema or spin class venue, yoga studio or restaurant/cafe. The visitors to these places get bikes on the brain and are easily converted.
Think about it, that’s all I’m saying. Comment and shout at me below.