A new website aims to support local bike shops by selling products online on their behalf.
BikeZaar (opens in new tab), which launches officially at the Cycle Show in Birmingham this weekend, combines the inventory of independent bike shops, brands and distributors into one website.
The system works much like that of Aqua Blue Sport, the marketplace which sponsored the Pro Continental team of the same name. The team recently announced that it would not continue in 2019.
BikeZaar says the benefits of this system include greater choice and convenience for shoppers, who will be able to checkout in a single transaction, having compared products at multiple stores.
Customers will be able to collect their purchases in-store, or order for delivery depending upon the store's policies.
They'll also be able to compare prices across shops, who may be based anywhere from Scotland to London.
BikeZaar itself will not hold any stock - all of the orders will be passed through to local independent bike shops. It hopes that the system will provide them with a platform on which to compete with the online retailers.
BikeZaar's website explains that it aims to help the "skilled, experienced and knowledgeable human beings who dedicate their lives to running bricks-and-mortar shops", and that it charges a commission rate "equivalent to an investment directly back into marketing and technical support."
Kevin Griffiths, founder of BikeZaar, commented: “Cycling is different to most other markets. Bikes in particular need regular servicing and bike shops are an essential part of the local community, but with the growth of online-only retailers, many are struggling to compete. This is why we developed BikeZaar.
"We do not produce or promote our own brands; we simply enable bike shops to utilise the power of our platform to reach a global audience and realise all of the benefits of being part of a large ecommerce offering.”
Brand and distributors will also be involved, BikeZaar says it offers the "perfect opportunity" for them to ensure their full ranges are represented - something not always possible in shops with limited space.
“We connect supply and demand in ways that were never possible before, said Griffiths. "I have worked with some of the top cycling brands in the world and they were all looking for this mechanism a decade ago; being able to represent their whole range on a large ecommerce site, but in a way that gives them more control and also integrates high street bike shops.
"Now the solution exists and we are delighted to be welcoming so many brands and distributors on board."
Elsewhere, local shops have experimented with using the success of online retailers to service customers in-store - Reigate's Maison du Velo operates a 'size and source' system, where customers can buy a bike online with their assistance, having it built up and fitted to with their guidance and expertise.
Larger high street retailers are not immune to the struggles of the changing face of the trade - last week it was announced that Evans Cycles is seeking a £10million investment by the end of this week.
The BikeZaar team will be at the Cycle Show, held at Birmingham NEC from September 27 to 30. A range of bikes, covering all categories, will be available to buy via an online auction and bids can be placed any time (opens in new tab) from Monday 24th through to 8pm on Sunday 30th September.
There will be a competition, with visitors in with a chance to win prizes up to £500 in value.
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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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