Ohio retailer Roll to go own brand to remain “viable” in changing industry

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Ohio and Chicago retailer chain Roll Bicycles has gone live with its own in-house brand, something which owner Stuart Hunter says is a reaction to a quickly changing industry.

Predicting that the USA’s estimated 4,000 bicycle retailers may shrink to 3,000 in the next five years, Hunter told BizJournals that he doesn’t want to fall victim in a business rapidly altering its sales methods.

He told the site that some supply partners won’t allow retailers to sell online, but will shortly be doing exactly that themselves.

“We need to take control of our own brand and our own products,” he told the site. “Can we create something that better addresses our customer needs and desires?”

Roll Bicycle Co now launched a $40,000 Kickstarter campaign, which now aims to see own branded bicycles available by November. Initially, Roll will offer three bikes built around a single frame, each costing $700. These include a sport, city or adventure build, each sold in six colours and ready to pick up in around 48 hours. Far from being a one size fits all solution, Hunter says builds will be tailored to the customer using bike fit technology – a process soon to be integrated online too.

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“Our customers have changed,” Hunter said. “Their shopping habits change. They interact with brands differently and our industry has struggled to keep up. It’s being shaped by other channels. You can customize your coffee, your car. You can buy online. Customers want that.”

The kickstarter funding will simply provide the means to finalise design and tooling, as well as online sales capability.

The manufacture of the bikes will happen in partnership with Columbus distributor Greenhouse BMX, who will help manage supplier relationships.

Touching briefly on such relationships, Hunter told the site: “I am sure there will be some resistance, but I think that will go away once they understand what we’re doing. I think this will bring new customers into the business. Progressive suppliers realize the industry is changing and they know the channel has to change.”

To read more about Hunter’s reasoning, including his thoughts on an evolving bicycle business, click here.