Editor’s comment: Looking toward the next generation of retail management

Our team has spent a lot of time on the road since the last Trade Journal hit doormats, largely in the hope of building a fresh perspective of where the bicycle business is at present, where it’s heading and how it may get there.

Our Q3 Journal once again brings to the table insights from businesses putting their own spin on what bike retail (and distribution) can offer for what is rarely ever a straight-forward customer. If you’ve been keeping an eye on our online offering we’ve spun the B2B thinking on its head a little recently, focusing equally on bike retail trends and what appears to be a heavy shift in consumer buying habits.

Starting in the present day, time spent on London’s busiest shopping streets lately gave food for thought. If there’s been one constant when it comes to High Street retail that has bucked all trends it’s Apple’s presence. Store after store on any given shopping street you’ll find windows adorned with promotions, sales and discounts. Why, then, doesn’t Apple do this and more importantly, why does footfall still remain high on any day of the week?

One of the great challenges facing bike retail at present, generating high footfall, very often links with in store experience. Should you deck your store out to mimic Apple? Probably not, however there are elements that are worth considering; notably lighting and cleanliness.

If a new report by the World Economic Forum is to be believed “the next great transformation of retail has started.” Within the study a lot of crystal balling occurs; from claims of handling virtual goods in our living rooms via headsets, to trends already seeping into prolific chains. One of those predictions with both positive and negative connotations for the front line of the bike business is the likelihood that stores of the future will carry only flagship stock on the showroom floor as an example, relegating the rest of the catalogue to the kind of giant tablet screens already appearing in many McDonalds branches.

The plus points, to name a few, include cleaner showrooms, less need to carry depth of stock and thus floor space for other things, less cash tied up and reduced chance of theft, among many perks. Inevitably such a system may also require losing some of what many will consider to be the soul of independent retail – knowledgeable staff. Click & Collect is something the industry is investing in at present to draw consumer attention back away from mobile shopping and into stores once again.

With 51% of sales between November 2015 and January of 2016 completed via hand held devices it makes good sense to have such functionality in place. Like many of the mobile mechanic franchises have implemented, it’s also worth having such functionality in place for customers to book in bike services on their mobiles.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the digital side of the bicycle business supply chain going forwards, so if you want to stay abreast of the latest trends pop us in your phone, tablet or desktop bookmarks, catch us on Apple News, or follow our social feeds – each found by typing ‘cycling industry’ into respective search bars.

Related: Electronic price tagging to enable retailers to adjust prices on the fly via mobile devices to meet demand peaks.