Raleigh’s IBD service commitment: Challenges & opportunities

Raleigh’s string of service announcements, including Saturday deliveries, play into its service commitment to IBDs, one of the firm’s three core pillars in its new UK business strategy. CIN speaks with Parts and Accessories Business Manager Lee Kidger about how the P&A arm of the UK business is tackling the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities in the cycle market…

How’s business?

Business is exciting at the moment here at Raleigh UK with different challenges every day. We are seeing good growth in the industry for the past nine months which coincides with a new structure to our Parts & Accessories Team. We now have a complete team in all areas of the business that really understand the bicycle industry and especially what the IBD network need from a distributor in order for them to succeed.

What’s your take on the state of the cycle industry right now? Imports are down, Brexit…Is it tough out there at the moment?

We totally agree it’s tough, but we have introduced changes that really support the retailers that work with Raleigh UK. Our industry leading logistics (9pm cut off for next day and 6pm for Saturday delivery) means IBDs no longer carry as much stock but can order as and when needed, only keeping the essentials. Whilst imports are down, and the political uncertainty does not help we are very positive about the future of the trade.

From feedback we are seeing a rise in workshop, mobile mechanics and retailers refocusing their business models. These changing times mean we have to respond to what our dealers need and what consumers are demanding. It’s not a case of just distributing a brand that’s important to the IBD now; it’s a number of factors that assist in their business, like stock levels, delivery timeslots, B2B ordering, timely promotions, etc.

Aside from new brand signings, Raleigh has made a number of announcements about its service to the IBD. Is it fair to say Raleigh has been significantly revamping this side of the business (and service promises) in recent months?

Raleigh is absolutely committed to supporting the IBD here in the UK and Ireland. There have been many significant changes to our parts and accessories distribution business from 9pm cut off for next day delivery to Saturday delivery and many new brands to add to the portfolio. We also offer six-day free delivery with our SRAM Access programme and the ability to change the address on the B2B to suit the consumer’s delivery needs if the IBD does not have the product in stock. The key for us is to offer independent retailers everything necessary to give the consumer a first-class service.

Was the launch of Saturday deliveries something that was prompted by dealer feedback?

We wanted to make sure that our customers are able to offer the very best service to their consumers. We know that stocking every product is difficult so to be able to offer a Saturday delivery is vital to be able to secure the sale for the IBD. With this service free for our Parts & Accessories partners it is being used by a lot of our customers. It’s all about convenience; consumers demand products quickly and we can support the IBD with this.

Presumably those more flexible deliveries feed into that concept of IBDs carrying less stock – what other ways do you help shops reduce their stock holding?

Stock holding for IBDs is a key story that we are hearing a lot. We aim to assist with great pricing for minimum commitment; fantastic availability on all products lines. Our Parts & Accessories Partner Scheme offers the IBD added benefits such as direct to home delivery for their consumers (through the B2B). Having access to over 45 brands means that IBDs can always purchase what they want from Raleigh UK & have it shipped the very next day.

We’ve had some independent feedback from a shop that your online live chat help has been incredibly useful – is that another new service?

Live chat was introduced last year by our customer services team who do a fantastic job, it means the dealers can get an answer in real time without picking up the phone. The process is fast and efficient. The team behind the ‘online chat’ are fully trained on all areas of our business and understand the bike industry, plus they ride bikes which adds to their knowledge to support the IBDs.

You’ve mentioned sharing best practice with IBDs…

Raleigh currently offer IBDs product training both in-store and at our launch events, social media training and digital assets but in the near future we plan to take this further by offering online training videos for staff across key brands.

I’ve seen mention of the parts and accessories partner scheme – does that tie all those service promises together?

The P&A partner scheme from Raleigh offers free delivery Monday to Saturday, best margins across key brands including XLC, Schwalbe, KMC, SRAM, Continental and many more. It also offers more support with merchandising, point of sale, digital assets for social media and samples for staff. We believe the shop staff are
the best advocates for our brands and like selling products they endorse.

Going back to recent brand signings, at least two of those are quite workshop focused – Proper Cleaner (Guy Martin) & Ecare – can we expect to see plenty of emphasis on workshop brands as this area continues to be more important for IBDs?

Workshop is a key pillar in future plans of our Parts and Accessories business. There are many bicycles already out there in the market and many consumers are choosing repair over replacement which is great for our IBD customers. Our strategy is to be a one-stop-shop for all parts and accessories, we want to make it as easy as possible to do business with Raleigh, offering the best brands, great availability and industry leading logistics.

Can we expect more service orientated moves from Raleigh P&A in the near future?

We have ambitious plans and we will continue to be industry leading with the IBD at the centre of all plans. If you look at the market and how it is evolving, we have to make sure we add value to an IBD store and how they retail. Consumer habits are changing rapidly, and we want to help our IBD customers by offering fantastic products and best in class services

Final pointers for our readers?

As well as logistics and adding more brands we have plans to become more sustainable with a big focus on becoming eco-friendly. Our sustainability project will be using the slogan #becausewecare which we fully believe is the way forward for our distribution channel. This means more than just sustainability – it is the culture in our business to make sure that every decision we make includes this key fundamental topic.

I am extremely confident that you will see significant changes in our packaging to become a lot more sustainable. We are currently switching out old style plastic packing with FSC approved recyclable packing and tape.

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Hayley Everett

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