An ambitious new 'dropshipping' programme by historic retailer Evans Cycles has seen online customers offered 9,500 new lines across parts, accessories and clothing.
The programme - whereby items are listed online at Evans and shipped directly via a range of distributors - is complemented by the opening of three new Evans Go outlets in Sports Direct stores in Norwich, Gateshead and Blackpool. There are plans to open more outlets in 2024.
Sports Direct's parent company – Frasers Group Plc – has owned Evans Cycles since 2018. Its beefed-up online offerings come courtesy of suppliers Extra UK, Silverfish, Cambrian and Upgrade, and have seen the company boost its lines by a whopping 68% in the six months since beginning its dropshopping programme. The retailer can also use the increased range available to gain new insights into which brands and products are most enticing to customers.
It seems to suggest that Evans is weathering the storm during what is a difficult time for the industry, with fellow major cycling retailer Wiggle searching for a buyer having entered administration in October.
Wiggle is far from alone in facing challenging trading conditions. After London chain Balfe's Bikes posted a pre-tax loss of £1.597 million, director Mike Rice told Cycling Weekly that the industry has "had more turbulence than I’ve seen in the 30 plus years I’ve been involved in it" over and following the Covid period.
This year, three major distributors have collapsed: Moore Large, 2Pure and FLi. Both Evans Cycles and Sigma Sports posted losses in their latest company accounts; common themes have included overstocking following a boom during the Covid pandemic, the effects of Brexit, and the cost of living crisis cutting spend on sports equipment.
Russell Merry, managing director of Wheels at Frasers Group, said: “Twelve months ago we set a goal to create the most comprehensive website in the bike industry using a dropship model that gives our customers more choice than ever before.
“We’re thrilled to have finished the first phase of the range extension programme, which, internally, we call ‘the encyclopaedia of cycling’. The programme enables us to offer niche products and provides valuable insights based on customers preferences to help inform future buying decisions. On the back of the scheme, we have already introduced some successful dropship products into top performing brick and mortar locations.”
“We are hugely grateful to our network of brand partners who have helped us bring our vision to life. We’ve built the foundation, now we’re looking to expand at pace, alongside our retail site openings," reported BikeBiz.
The dropshipping set-up enables Evans Cycles to offer items without needing to keep them in-store. Instead, it forwards customer orders straight to the supplier, which then sends them out.
The first Evans Cycles store was opened in London in 1922, remaining a single shop until the company began expanding in the 1970s. It went into administration in 2018, by which time it had 60 stores across the UK, and was acquired by Frasers Group.
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