When speaking to bike shops around the world you’ll get a mixed response on whether competing online is worth their time. At the very least, an up-to-date presence is necessary, but without a means to monetise your portal the incentive to keep a e-storefront up to date can quickly wither. Step in TheBikeTrader, a Google friendly portal to turn your stock into a searchable and most importantly, easily found item. Here Co-founder Dion Lowe explains how bike shops can benefit from free listings:
So, what’s the bike trader and why might bike shops be interested?
The Bike Trader was born as an idea back in 2013 when my local bike shop (LBS) had no facility to take my old road bike in part exchange for a new one. This seemed totally alien to me and quite frustrating to be honest at the time. When I dug a little deeper, it became apparent this was a common outcome for many cyclists wanting to upgrade.
The Bike Trader gives the local bike shop the confidence to say yes to part exchanges and the confidence that they now have a national platform to sell them through. When we created The Bike Trader, we didn’t just want to create a static website that people “might” stumble upon while surfing the web. We wanted to create a website that actively promotes individual listing across all our marketing channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or our database of 20,000 plus email addresses. In today’s fast changing digital and social media world, we want to put a user’s listing in front of a buyer’s eyes, not hope a buyer “might” find it for sale.
The team that has helped to build The Bike Trader, have been in the cycling community for over 30 years. We range from a former Olympic Cyclist who competed in 1984 summer Olympics, an avid road cyclist to a family man who takes his son out on his balance bike at the weekends (weather permitting, of course).
I’ve also not said yet that its free to advertise any bike with us, that also includes Local Bike Shops!
What inspired the setup of this business?
Seeing one of my Local Bike Shops being forced off the high street. These stores can’t compete against the large faceless internet bike shops on an individual basis, but with one central hub across the UK they can. The Bike Trader gives the guy in Cornwall exposure in Scotland by having one platform that is mobile and tablet friendly and ranks highly within search engines. The internet is a great place for people to do their research, but unfortunately new cyclists are then buying bikes from the internet that ether don’t fit, or can sometimes not be fit for purpose.
From our own research, Local Bike Shops don’t tend to have a massive presence online, so they can be over looked during a new cyclists buying process, but The Bike Trader is and will continue to change this. Most, if not all, bike shops are owned and run by keen cyclists in all disciplines and we see by just giving the LBS a voice, we are helping not just the LBS, but the whole cycling community in general.
And you’re hoping to be particularly useful in helping bike retailers shift unwanted stock – how can you help?
Our desire is to drive local people into local shops to ensure that they get the right advice in terms of fitting and use. Last year’s stock will suit most new cyclists, but many independents don’t have the presence online, the time, or desire to manage their social media. Their passion is cycling. A question
though; is it really unwanted stock, or is it stock that the local cyclist didn’t know his bike shop had?
We’ve already had positive feedback from LBS saying we are not just helping them to sell bikes, we are
helping them to increase their awareness within the community.
You mention that a USP of your site is a greater reach online than what’s typically achievable for the bike retailer – Does your platform allow the shops to compete online for some sales?
Phase 2 of The Bike Trader will give the local bike shop a website within our website where they can
advertise their staff, services, offers, location and more. We are keen to develop these relationships to
enable the local bike shop to survive locally in this digital age. Content online is king and a bike shop might not have enough content on their own website to appear high in search rankings. As The Bike Trader grows so does our content which has a positive effect to our rankings, we naturally become search engine friendly. Local Bike Shops can add links to their own website, driving people back to them. Furthermore, they will have their contact details on our site also driving buyers back to them. We are a simple national platform that brings the buyer and seller together.
What’s the average sale price of the bikes sold via your site and can partners typically still turn a good profit?
Because we allow private individuals the opportunity to sell their old bike answering that is quite
difficult. One thing I can say is that we have bikes advertised from as little as £100 up to £4,500. We can
and will cater for all. The parent who is selling their child’s balance bike, right through to a keen cyclist that is upgrading to next year’s model.
The industry certainly seems to be seeing a revival in the used bike market – what have you noted here in the past few years? Are more people digging old bikes out to service or sell?
We have personally seen both. Having the Tour de Yorkshire was incredible, the atmosphere and cycling
community just came alive and were inspired to dig out that old bike. We believe in general cycling is
seeing a huge revival and we are keen to push these new interested parties towards the LBS community.
The team behind The Bike Trader are passionate about supporting cycling at its grass roots and want to
see young wannabe cyclists fulfilling their dreams. We do this in a few different ways and one of them is
by supporting the HMT – Academy Cycling Team. We’ve also sponsored BMX events which again helps
the continued growth of the sport and future champions to fulfill a dream.
Is it just complete bikes you sell via the site, or might this expand to offer perhaps clothing or components?
Never say never. At the moment it’s predominantly bikes, frames and groupsets, but when phase two
comes along the retailer will have far more tools at their disposal.
We want The Bike Trader to be the go to place to find your local retailer, your local cycling club, your local cycling routes and any events. Its important that we help encourage networking between retailers and customers.
How can industry firms looking to work with TBT get in touch?
That’s easy, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, the good old email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply log on to www.thebiketrader.co.uk and click on the contact button in the footer. It’s really easy to set up an account on the website and if required we can do this for the end user.