The online marketplace, not dissimilar to the likes of Rightmove and Autotrader, is gaining momentum, founder Antony Auty tells BikeBiz...

Bikesoup: ‘IBDs can combine and compete online’

For those unaware of Bikesoup, can you give us an explanation of what the site offers?
Bikesoup is a cycling specific marketplace which caters for both the independent dealer network and private sellers too. Every bike shop in the UK now has a searchable shop profile on the Bikesoup Store Finder and for an additional subscription the dealer can list an unlimited number of bikes for sale. The upload process is very simple as we have data for every bike from over 70 manufacturers stored in the website. Currently over 3,200 bikes from 2014 with the new 2015 bikes going up on the site now.

You founded Bikesoup a few years ago now, has the Bikesoup offering changed in that time?
We now have a number of key tools on the site that direct site visitors to dealer adverts on the site, like the Store Finder, Cyclopedia and the Magazine. We’re mobile and tablet friendly with 50 per cent of our traffic coming through touch screen devices.

Since we got a significant investment in Bikesoup late last year we have been able to complete the website build to the specification required for today’s online users and optimise our SEO so that dealer adverts are easily visible through organic Google searches. We think that launching ‘Click & Collect’ and ‘Click & Reserve’ for every dealer in the UK will deliver significant returns, both in traffic to store and in direct sales, especially for shops who struggle to get visibility on Google.

Tell us more about Click & Collect – how is this driving footfall?
We believe it will be a very strong driver of new customers into the bricks and mortar shops but that the measure of its success shouldn’t be only in direct sales through ‘Click & Collect’. Our research suggests that ‘Click & Reserve’ will be a much stronger selling tool as the bike buying public is, generally, more reluctant to commit to purchase a bike online, but are more comfortable buying in store.

What’s the potential for Bikesoup?
Many of our bike listings exceed over 100 page views per month and we expect that traffic figure to keep increasing as more people get to hear about Bikesoup and our search engine visibility gets even better. Once we have enough sign up, we’ll start listing on Google Shopping too.

Does Bikesoup really level the playing field for IBDs, potentially?
We can genuinely deliver a much more consistent and equal flow of customers based on dealer territory, rather than what is happening at present, in which online search results are dominated by about 10 or 12 dealers – single unit or multiples. If the industry, brands and dealers, fully engages with Bikesoup we can make life much easier for the dealers by increasing revenue and more satisfying for the consumer because everything is in one place. Very soon we’ll be releasing our Store Finder database populated with all of the top cycling brands to other publishers, so that product reviews can direct readers directly into their local retailer, rather than straight back to Google.

Are you still working with the ACT and are there still discounts available to ACT members?
Yes, we’ve been working directly with the ACT since we launched in 2010 and they remain a very important partner of Bikesoup. We’ll be starting to promote their retail products – RideItAway finance & Fetch insurance – to Bikesoup users very shortly. All paid ActSmart subscribers – Silver, Gold & Platinum – enjoy a 17 per cent discount on all Bikesoup packages.

What is the pricing structure for bike shops?
Our full e-commerce platform with ‘Click & Collect’ is available with ‘The Awesome Plan’ and includes unlimited adverts from £25/month. ‘The Deluxe Plan’ which includes an enhanced dealer page with extra features and shop image gallery is available from £10/month. All subscribers will enjoy a no quibble 30-Day free trial.

What is next for Bikesoup?
The next major upgrade will be integrating with EPOS providers so that shop stock is automatically listed on Bikesoup and removed when the product is sold. By the end of September we will have launched analytics and traffic reporting for dealers so that they can identify which bikes are generating the most traffic. Of course, the Bikesoup website is being developed to improve the user experience for both buyer and seller.
See us at The Cycle Show where we’ll be doing a trade presentation on Thursday 25th September at 3pm.

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