Ask the Trade: How big will click & collect become for the independent bike shop?

In an age where the vast majority of transactions are at the very least researched online prior to purchase, how vital might click & collect be for the independent bike retailer?

We ask a panel of four UK retailers with varied responses:

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Frank Beechinor, Cadence Cycling
I can see click and collect growing all the time and that’s part of the beauty of being part of Giant’s network – if stocks somewhere in the network we can more often than not supply the customer without any cash tied up in the stock.

Neil Holman, George Halls Cycle Centre
I would love a click and collect element to my own website. I will never mail order bikes to customers as I’ve dealt with the frustrations of damaged in transit and the increased likelihood of scam artists targeting you.

People’s time is precious and we’ve tailored our hours to suit such trade. We’re open late on Mondays to enable those who have put in for a weekend service to pick up on the way home. We’re also open from 8am to catch those commuting to work.

Mick Murphy, Mickey Cranks
For the customer, click and collect combines online choice with offline convenience.

They can find what they want and pick it up locally with no delivery charges and it appeals to the customer who has a preference for the physical shopping experience. We recognized 18 months ago that click and collect offers an opportunity for online sales to drive in-store traffic, potentially resulting in further purchases and implemented on our website. However, the uptake for us has been tiny. Being critical of ourselves we probably haven’t taken enough time to list all of the 4,000 products we offer, as we just don’t have enough available time.

The commission via online sale model is fast emerging. Is this an inevitable progression, or does it signal the phasing out of the bike shop in a sale:

Mick Murphy, Mickey Cranks
Providing the margin is maintained for the IBDs then the business relationship will not break down. However, if it is not maintained then IBDs would have to migrate to brands that do not offer consumer direct as we are already working with tight margins. That is only if the consumer embraces direct sales and the jury is out on that one as far as bikes are concerned. I’m sure direct will form a portion of future sales channels, but not a large one.

Alan, Garage Bikes
If it works for the bike shop and takes nothing away in terms of value then I’m all for it.
I think my concern is that the customer will place a bike order and get it totally wrong. It’ll then ship to the dealer for a tune up and we’ll discover incompatibilities that will make the sale difficult. I wouldn’t want to then be stuck with a bike that we can’t shift.