Comment: How Pokémon Go and other trends can boost your shop’s takings

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It won’t have escaped your attention that hoards of kids and some adults too have been out in force this past week or so, faces glued to phone screens (yes, more than usual).

The reason? A viral mobile game offering an augmented reality experience in which gamers are encouraged to walk, or cycle, to local attractions with the promise of in game rewards. In short, BikePortland describes the game as having the potential to “do more to encourage biking — especially among young people — than decades of advocacy.”

Beyond the obvious ground covering potential, why have I brought the topic up here? After all, a it’s perhaps a bit Farfetch’d (the “Trainers” among you will get that reference) that a bike shop is going to shift complete bikes on the promise of virtual gamer points. Please tell us if you do, though, these articles don’t have any click bait lure at all, honest…

When viral trends such as these emerge it can pay to be aware of what’s happening. Encouragingly, pokemonpeople are walking and cycling en-masse as part of this now global trend and that will undoubtedly continue for the foreseeable future, until gamers inevitably grow tired of the real world again.

So, how can you take advantage now? First and foremost, phone mounts will be crucial for those taking to a bike and playing this game. The brand carried will vary store to store, but this game benefits from being able to swiftly dismount the phone as and when a point of interest is reached.

Another positive is that the app won’t necessarily count your progress across the land if you’re in a car. An in-built accelerometer determines if you’re trying to cheat the game by travelling an inhuman speeds, so there’s an opportunity to shift those old cycle computers that have been gathering dust since Strava’s inception. Put the information in kids hands and they’ll take an interest in what else they can achieve on their bikes.

The plus point of this? Kids can relay to their parents the distance they’ve covered at the end of the day. With a little encouragement, Little Johnny or Joan then have a measurable target to beat the next day and perhaps, in time, active travel to school or work becomes an entirely more realistic proposition for both child and parent.

With that in mind, the potential of this trend doesn’t lie simply in the hardware. Your bike shop will undoubtedly organise a weekly ride, which just so happens to be the perfect opportunity to involve the kids with a guided Pokemon hunt. This can finish at the shop where a post-ride bike service can be offered to those who need it.

As part of the countertop package we’re building, it’s probably worth fitting things like water bottles and a bell – both an easily sell if you’ve stocked up on kid-friendly colourful or licensed product. Helmets too might add parent appeal.

A final recommendation would be the inclusion of some nutrition product. We’d imagine Kids would probably prefer jelly cube shots to the energy gels preferred by endurance athletes, but it’s your choice.

There are of course a number of other loosely related items you could sell as part of this countertop promotion. Everything from puncture repair kits and kickstands can be promoted – we imagine bikes will be thrown down often with the appearance of Pokemon).

Don’t forget, next time one of these trends comes to fruition – and in the tech-age they do with great frequency – be proactive. Set that window display early, research the background with your peers, or in this case, kids. Modern bike retail is all about relationships, building and maintaining them. As such, bike retailers have a unique opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of anyone rediscovering the outdoors with trends like these, so don’t miss out.

For more bike shop tips and commentary, check out our resources section.