Ask the trade: Can online retail work for the independent bike shop?

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For the first issue of the CyclingIndustry.News Trade Journal we opened with one heck of a question; What might bike retail look like in just a few years from now and how can store owners adapt their businesses to meet some of the unprecedented challenges facing the traditional retailer.

For part four we ask four very different bike shop owners, how they run their online presence and whether they successfully retail on the web.

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Mick Murphy, Mickey Cranks
Online is a great place to market your products to local customers who will check your site before traveling, but sales will always go to the cheapest supplier, so it’s not a sustainable long term business model to compete for them.

Kevin Moreland, Bainton Bikes
We can’t compete with the big bike players for online sales. We have a number of skilled mechanics, tour guides and cycling experts work with us, but I would of thought less than half of them would of even heard the term SEO and META, let alone know how to develop a website to draw customers to our site.

We see our website more as a window to our shop and hope people will contact and visit us based on what they see – that said, we struggle to keep it up to date.

Anonymous retailer, Leeds
I just can’t see it. I have other hobbies outside of the industry and I’m as bad as cycle consumers for looking for the cheapest available. The only independent I know that does it lists all his stock on his website at full RRP, then sells it when the usual suspects have run out and someone is desperate.

Jon Askham, Kinetic Cycles
We use the internet as a tool for engagement mostly. You’re never going to compete with the big boys and their grey importing and huge warehouses. What you can however do is foster a community. Show off product, sure, but use it to attract people to the stores and build relationships.