We all know how it works: online shopping is fast, easy and cheap. The local bike shop fixes your bike and provides expertise and customer service. Tim believes there's room in this world for both online and brick-and-mortar shopping. For the local bike shops to survive, however, Tim admonishes the local bike shop owners to play up their strengths of Maintenance and Customer Service. In other words, the local bike shop managers will really need to pay attention to the customers and let them know that they are appreciated.
John @ RogueMechanic has his own ideas of the bike dealer of the future. John sees nontraditional retail locations, consignment inventory, some network marketing and a showroom appearance.
I have my own goofy ideas, but I believe social interaction is key. The busiest bike shop in my city is as much a social hub as it is a bike shop. Cyclists drop by to say hello and chat. I don't know about the others, but everytime I go in I seem to drop at least $30 on something. Group rides start and end at this shop. The shop runs neighborhood group rides for beginners and newbies on cruiser bikes. High Gear isn't just a shop, it's a community.
The owner, Buzz Feldman, is an LCI and very active in local cyclist and cycling advocacy efforts. He paid all of his shop employees to attend the LAB Road 1 class. Buzz and some of his employees are also active in local cycling online forums. When somebody asks technical questions about bikes or parts, Buzz or a shop employee responds immediately with free advice. I know a lot of people who shop at High Gear because of their online participation.
Related:Bike shops and connections -- An interview with Sheldon Brown and others about how online participatation results in more business for the bike shop.
What does your dream bike shop look and act like? Post your comments below.
Disclosure: I think it's obvious, but I pay for Cyclelicio.us and other websites by advertising on these sites. Beyond the actual expense of registration and hosting, I also put money into developing these sites. What's left over goes to my local advocacy group for bicycling education and bicycling promotion. I don't personally make a dime from Cyclelicio.us.
IMPORTANT: Please post comments for this article at the new CYCLELICIOUS 2.0 version of this page.
I agree. I think that there certainly is room for bike shops throughout the Internet and that the competitive environment is open enough so that there is room for everyone.
There is a quick way to start a really cool looking Online Bike Shop by using Shopping Cart Software that allows you to quickly & easily configure and build an Online Bike Shop through an interactive and easy-to-use interface. I think that not only is aesthetics a big key to the success of any Online Bike Shop, but also functionality as well, and having solid Shopping Cart Software really allows you to make that happen and keep your customers coming back for more.
A good solution that I like to use for my clients is the CartWIZ Shopping Cart Software which lets me build the stores quickly & easily and provides and online administration interface as well so that my clients can manage their stores from virtually anywhere.