Want to Grow Your Business? Market to Women!

Women sometimes say they are not comfortable in bike shops, but Bridget Brennan thinks this can change.

Brennan made the case for marketing and selling to women during a lively presentation “The Seven Deadly Sins of Selling to Women” at the recent IBD Summit in Monterey. Brennan is considered to be an expert on selling to women, is the author of the book Why She Buys, and is founder and CEO of Female Factor.

Why focus on women? Brennan noted that women drive 70-80 percent of consumer spending as both purchasers and influencers. She pointed to studies that show female spending was up 28.6 percent from 1990 to 2008, while male spending rose only 2.3 percent. She said that Continue reading

Giant lowers prices, dealers react

downDealer reaction was swift to Giant’s announcement last week of a new program to lower retail prices on 30 bike models starting March 31.

The program, dubbed “Gateway to Adventure,” was described by the company as a long-term strategy to help “broaden the market and get more new consumers into our retailers’ stores” according to Giant’s John Thompson.

The NBDA member chat forum erupted with a fountain of comments, positive, negative and unsure. The conversation morphed into a broader conversation about the future of the specialty bicycle industry, the value of pro racing support, and the different market awareness of the “Big Three” bike brands. Names are withheld per the policies of the members-only forum.

“Big Pay Cut for Giant Dealers?” was the subject line of the first comment.

The Illinois dealer described the new program as “substantially lowering their SRP on virtually all of what I would consider their ‘bread and butter’ bikes Continue reading

The Supplier Scorecard: “That Which Is Measured, Improves”*

reportcardIn bicycle retail, professional mystery shoppers are sometimes used to evaluate a store. They visit in person to buy something. They phone and ask for help. They engage with the website. Then they rate the store’s performance based on pre-established and detailed criteria. The completed scorecard can be a great tool for retailers who want a view of their business through fresh eyes, and with all key aspects of the business examined.

For the supply side of our industry, this kind of feedback has not been as easy to come by. There are no mystery shoppers for cycling brands. Feedback from consumers is difficult to assess, and Internet chat is often troll-laden. Feedback from dealers has been mostly informal, general and sometimes emotional if there are issues. Is there a better way for brands to receive meaningful feedback?

There is now. The new NBDA Supplier Scorecard is now collecting detailed ratings on specialty brands from dealers nationwide. Dealers are asked Continue reading

Bicycle retail salaries: How low is too low?

yournamehereCustomer service is a great tool for building long-time relationships with bike shop customers.

But good customer service requires qualified and motivated people on staff, and this is not easy to achieve or maintain. Staff issues are frequently cited as one of the most vexing challenges for retail bike stores. Why? One reason is that it’s hard to recruit the talented people you need when offering the relatively low wages available in bike retail.

Bicycle mechanic salaries made the news earlier this month when Bicycle Retailer and Industry News reported on a blog post that had gone semi-viral (by bicycle industry standards anyway), with 197,000 views as of this writing.

Donny Perry, a global development manager at Specialized, posted a presentation in mid-February (http://www.slideshare.net/donnyperry/bike-mechanic-salaries) that called out the sub-standard average pay offered to bicycle mechanics.

He noted that the average bicycle mechanic earns just $22,337 per year (according to salary.com). This compares to $23,013 for high school dropouts, $25,188 for janitors, and $29,962 for gardeners. The average wage for a full-time worker in the United States is $40,584, according to the U.S. Census, Continue reading

Webrooming: A trend that may help brick-and-mortar stores

searchWhen a person walks into a local bike shop and uses their smartphone to compare prices with on-line retailers (AKA showrooming), some store owners take offense.

After all, they have made a sizeable investment in the store, people and inventory. When consumers use that investment against them to compare and buy elsewhere, it doesn’t seem to be within the limits of fair play.

But showrooming may not be the biggest driver of Internet shopping trends versus brick-and-mortar. A new study from RR Donnelly suggests that the most significant trend may be its opposite: webrooming.

Webrooming is when a customer starts their shopping on-line to gather information, but uses that information to visit a local brick-and-mortar store to buy.

Donnelly reported that during the 2012 holiday season, showrooming was up 400% over 2011. But in 2013, a Harris Poll Continue reading

Sales Tax Reform May Be Gaining Momentum

CongressbuildingSeveral independent bicycle dealers are planning to participate in March 4 Congressional meetings in Washington, D.C., to push for sales tax reform.

This comes at a time when there is some apparent movement on this issue in the House of Representatives to address the problem of brick-and-mortar businesses being required to collect sales tax while their direct competitors, Internet retailers, often do not.

The bicycle dealers will be joining a larger group of independent businesses from several industries under the umbrella of the Advocates for Independent Businesses (AIB). Meetings are being arranged by the American Booksellers Association, an AIB member.

The meetings may be well-timed because there appears to be some movement in the House of Representatives where reform efforts had stalled. The Senate Continue reading

Lower Price Points: The Next Big Thing?

usedbikejpgAre casual bike consumers being frightened away from bike shops because of sticker shock? Does the industry’s need to appeal to a wider range of people include offering good products for less?

A lot of independent dealers seem to think so, and many are taking steps to bring in more products that won’t scare people away. And while this may run counter to a basic business goal of achieving higher average ticket totals, many believe there is a downside to focusing only on those with a lot of money to spend.

While much of the evidence for a trend toward lower price points remains anecdotal, and average selling prices of new bikes continue to rise, after a tough 2013 a number of dealers are aggressively looking for options. A good case can also be made Continue reading