Bike manufacturer and retailer Ribble Cycles has launched a new Live In-Store portal (opens in new tab) with the aim of providing customers with the same advice they'd get inside one of its three shops, via the internet.
The 1897 founded British bike brand has partnered with customer engagement platform Go Instore to bring the advice of expert sales assistants to people's homes via online video chat.
Audio will be two way, whilst video will be one way - customers will be able to see the in-store colleague, but not vice-versa. The service will be available during standard opening hours (9.30am-5pm Monday to Saturday), as well as in the evenings and on Sundays, when the shop is closed.
Advice will initially come from the team at Ribble's Preston store, but with shops also in Birmingham and Bluewater there's potential for a further roll-out should the endeavour prove successful.
There's no obvious signs that Ribble is recruiting extra staff to run the service initially, with just two jobs advertised (opens in new tab) on the site at present.
Ribble's CEO, Andy Smallwood said: “As a leading direct-to-consumer, digital-first business, Ribble is the first in our sector to offer an authentic retail experience in an online format. Ribble Live In-Store offers the consumer the opportunity to gain access to a physical store, a dedicated expert Ribble brand champion and the complete product range via their own phone, tablet or laptop.”
The service compliments Ribble's direct sales method - customers can buy bikes online, speccing out the frame of their choice via the Bike Builder. Sales via this method reduces the need for bricks and mortar stores, thus allowing Ribble to offer bikes at a competitive price point.
With the brand now designing its own frames, most recent review models have impressed the Cycling Weekly tech team, receiving 9 and 10/10 scores, with value for money always a key factor in the verdict.
A common criticism of the direct-only sales method is that the customer loses easy access to buying advice, a downside this new platform aims to remedy.
Go Instore Co-Founder Andre Hordagoda explained: “As a keen cyclist and having been through the consultative process of buying road bikes over the years, I fully appreciate the need for professional support in getting sizing and configuration just right.
"From the early conceptual days of Go Instore we always felt we would work well with a leader in this category - so it’s great to be partnering with an award-winning brand such as Ribble and we are excited to deliver their excellent customer service to consumers worldwide.”
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Cycling Weekly's Digital Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.
When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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