Apidura co-founder Tori Fahey tells Rebecca Morley how the bikepacking brand’s In-store Repairs Programme is helping IBDs compete with online retailers
IBDs bring huge value to the communities they serve, offering expert advice and service that cannot be found online. And bikepacking brand Apidura believes brands are uniquely positioned to help local bike shops create innovative services that create value and experiences that encourage customer footfall and loyalty – its In-store Repairs Programme being a prime example.
“Our repairs programme is a natural extension of our brand principles of longevity and ‘buy once’ sustainability,” says Tori Fahey, co-founder of Apidura. “We believe that the most effective way that we can reduce our environmental impact is to keep the products we make in use as long as possible. This starts with investing in expert design, high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship; everything we make is Built to Last. But, as we build products to be used in really tough situations, it’s natural that some will eventually need a bit of a tune-up to keep them adventure-ready.”
Although Apidura encourages and supports DIY repairs and care, Fahey says major repairs often involve posting individual packs back and forth – either direct from customers or via its partner network of stores. “This comes at an environmental and financial cost. The aim of the In-store Repairs Programme is to consolidate those shipments, while also offering stores a valuable service for their customers. It’s a win for the environment, a win for the stores and a win for our customers.
“While stores have always been able to send packs back to us for repair, the limited window of each In-store Repairs Programme rollout creates a moment in time to talk to customers about repairs. It also allows us and the stores to be aligned in our messaging so that we can support the stores in reaching nearby Apidura customers, whether they’re regular customers of the store or not.
“Stores are encouraged to share our repair guides and provided with collateral for social media posts that make it easy to pass on Apidura’s bikepacking expertise to their customers and position themselves as authorities on bikepacking and repairs. Some stores have run repairs Q&As and even joined us in a repairs workshop. The goal is to create a platform for stores to bring their communities together and deliver unique value to their customers.”
The in-store repairs process requires that customers visit the store twice – once to drop off and once to pick up their pack – creating two opportunities for stores to make sales or advertise other services to customers who may not have visited recently. The repairs are free, fast and not limited to packs bought via the store.
Online sales have been strong for some time now – even more so during the pandemic when the UK was told to ‘stay at home’. But that doesn’t mean bricks and mortar stores can’t compete, with IBDs being vital in offering specialist knowledge and advice to cyclists. “Strong IBDs compete with online retailers through differentiation and creating value around the products and services they offer,” says Fahey. “The In-store Repairs Programme is an effective way for Apidura to partner with retailers to create these critical value-added experiences that give IBDs a competitive edge. We also provide stores with marketing collateral, helping reduce strain on limited – or non-existent – marketing departments.
“By providing a service that creates new opportunities for customers to interact with their local store, the In-store Repairs Programme provides an opportunity for retailers to engage with existing and new customers, while simultaneously providing value through free repairs.
“By promoting the programme through Apidura’s own platforms and via the stores themselves, we ensure that both existing and new customers – who might not have realised they live near a bike shop specialising in bikepacking – are reached and encouraged to interact with their local store. Packs returned for repair do not have to have been purchased from a participating store, widening the appeal and value of the programme for both the stores involved and Apidura owners.
“Alongside helping IBDs differentiate and provide value that online discount retailers cannot match, we are hopeful that the In-store Repairs Programme will encourage conversation around repairs and sustainability that are long overdue in the bike industry. For us, it’s a good way to combine bike shops’ need for new ways to engage with customers and our desire to help cyclists learn more about self-sufficiency and repairing their gear.”
Fahey says Apidura has had a ‘great response’ both from stores that have already been involved and those that have not. After the first rollout in Europe, the brand had stores from across its global network asking to be involved in future editions and was able to expand the programme the second time around, despite lockdowns around the world.
“IBDs are the cornerstones of cycling communities and are often one of the best sources of cycling knowledge and advice,” Fahey continues. “The value they bring to the cycling world is greater than the range of products they carry and their role cannot be replaced by websites, magazines or instructional videos.
“Aggressive pricing and discounting have made it harder and harder for IBDs to remain competitive and that community value is at risk of disappearing forever – particularly with a global pandemic added into the mix. We had always intended to expand the In-store Repairs Programme, but COVID made it feel even more necessary and worthwhile. With store visits significantly reduced, IBDs need opportunities to engage with their communities and find a way to safely offer services remotely.
“It’s a time of great challenge, but also great opportunity. Bike shops are deemed essential in many parts of the world, so can remain open, parts are in short supply and there are many new people on bikes who need guidance and services. Now is the best possible opportunity to turn these new cyclists into lifelong cyclists and position IBDs at the heart of their journey.”
With summer approaching, the COVID vaccine proving successful and restrictions slowly beginning to ease around much of the world, Fahey says Apidura is focusing on supporting stores that are reopening with new in-store merchandising guidance.
“It’s not as glamorous as the In-store Repairs Programme, but it’s an area where we have a great deal of expertise and can help our partner stores make the most of the space they have available and the opportunity for customers to see and engage with bikepacking equipment ‘in the flesh’. This sits alongside a wider, ongoing, content marketing push, working more closely with our network of IBDs and distributors to share our expertise and knowledge and also do some cross-marketing.”