A local bike shop has adopted a new initiative that aims to overcome the rivalry between independent shops and direct sellers.
Maison du Velo – who have shops in Reigate and Cranleigh, Surrey – have introduced a Size and Source service, which sees them inviting customers to order any bike, from any brand – with their assistance. That includes direct only bike manufacturers and all the major online retailers.
The service includes a brief consultation to discuss the style of bike the customer is looking for, followed by a ‘Radlabor’ body scan to measure the shopper’s limb lengths. The information is used against a database of 28,000 frame geometries to determine the ideal new steed, before assistants scour the internet for the best deal available.
Finally, the bike is delivered to the store address, where it’s built up to customer specification – all for £49.
Commenting on the decision, owner Tom Hough said: “As far as we’re aware, we’re the first local bike shop to offer this service. The key motivation [behind setting up the offer] was a frustration with the current distribution models, which don’t seem to have evolved alongside the rest of the marketplace, and a desire to offer more of our services and expertise to more customers.”
Hough added: “For us it’s all about giving customers more choice and getting them through the door to experience the range of services we, as an LBS, can offer and that they can’t get online. If it turns out that the right bike for them is one from our key brands – in whose products we firmly believe – then we can offer even more additional services, such as warranty support.”
Whilst Maison du Velo will hunt out the best online deal, the Size and Source transaction takes place between the bike provider and the customer – meaning that they don’t take a cut, but they’re also not responsible for any warranty issues.
Commenting on the reactions he’s received from the sales reps the shop regularly deals with, he added: “We’ve had the whole range of reactions, from dismissiveness to confusion to excitement. Smaller, more niche or younger brands seem especially keen to work with us on the idea.”
Local bike shops are having to fight harder for business, thanks to the vicious price cutting that the internet allows. Commenting on the changing face of the industry, Carlton Reid, executive editor of BikeBiz, told us back in 2015: “It’s so easy to shop online now that it’s the new normal. Of course you buy your tubes and tyres online. Why wouldn’t you? It’s cheaper! Bike shops used to make a lot of money on, for instance, tubes. They’re bought for pennies and then sold at expensive prices. That’s just not happening now.”
Sales rep John Styles added: “Nobody is getting rich in the bike trade. Everything is competed down to its lowest possible price. As a result most people in the bike trade — shop owners, mechanics, sales people — earn 20-30 per cent less than they would in an equivalent industry.”