Is hybrid retail the future?

By Mark Almond, director, Red Cloud Marketing and founder, Revo Bikes

It was summer 2015 and I was chatting with the team at Revolution Bike Park about their plans when a thought occurred to us – this place needs a shop. Now. imagine my surprise when I then found myself agreeing to open one just ten minutes later!

As a bike industry marketer and PR specialist since 2007, the retail experience was new to me. Sure, I had helped bike shops with their marketing and events but actually running a bike shop was set to be a steep learning curve. In 2016, Revo Bikes was born and the curve took off.

Fast forward to 2020 and whilst I am still nowhere near as experienced as many of you reading this, Revo Bikes has continued to grow year on year and we have some exciting plans for the future. I am still learning every single day though.

Best practice means different things to different people after all. It is largely governed by your own local market, your product and service offering, your skills and your business network. Running a bike shop at a remote bike park is very different to running one on a high street for example.

We do all have some things in common though. Our supply chain and the growth in direct to retail and direct to consumer brands, the changing marketplace and fast-moving changes in consumer behaviour and expectations. Of course, our competition is constantly evolving too with the ever-present internet fuelling many of these.

So if the web is fuelling so much that is changing in our world, isn’t it time we all embraced it and made it work in our favour?

Pricing aside (that is a whole other subject for another day), the internet is an area where fear often overshadows the opportunity.

Social media, for example, opens up direct customer interaction and opportunities for expanding your shop’s reach far beyond your local area cheaply and effectively. E-commerce websites have never been easier to produce in-house (the recent rise in easy-to-manage Headless Commerce packages is also worth watching) and, especially for those of us who don’t have a large local market, they offer a fairly simple solution to growing revenue with the right product offering.

But what of that pesky online competition?

They’re not so pesky if you flip the way you view them. I know this will be seen by many as controversial so please read this in the way it is intended – as something to provoke thought, nothing more.

Direct to consumer brands are potentially helping to grow the overall market through their marketing and profile. Often, the public only finds out about some of the smaller brands on the market and which you may have in your shop through the marketing efforts of the big online stores.

However, pricing aside, we as the IBDs of the UK have a secret weapon that the big onlines don’t have. We have a store. We have specialists to talk to consumers face to face and we can offer the ability to try out the products for size, test ride etc. A lot of online brands value this.

For example, go to any bike show or large cycling festival and you will likely see the online brands in heavy attendance as they know the power of speaking personally to our joint consumer. We have this power 365. Use it. Be a hybrid of the two – online and offline. Work with the online brands as opposed to against them and who knows where it will take us and the industry we love.

Is hybrid retail the future? You decide.

This feature was published in the April edition of BikeBiz.

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