Keeping Insync with IBDs

Insync’s sales director Wayne Clarke tells Rebecca Morley about a new range of Coyote bikes that are exclusive to IBDs

In an era of rising online sales, it is vital that IBDs are supported in any way possible. The service offered by independent bike shops simply cannot be offered on the internet – with expert advice on what model to buy as well as support on servicing and repairs.

This is why Insync is launching a new range of IBD-only bikes, made under the Coyote brand. They can only be bought in shops and are distinct in brand and price from the company’s online offering of branded bikes on its website.

Back to its roots
“I think it’s an area that we’ve moved away from in the last couple of years,” says sales director Wayne Clarke. “We’ve certainly moved away from what I consider to be our roots, and we are about to launch a much more dealer-focused range of bikes. We’re relaunching the Coyote brand, which is going to be focused entirely at the IBD. There are some exciting new designs, exciting new geometry and a real focus on creating a good eye-catching quality range of bikes that are affordable.”

Customers will be able to view the Coyote Bikes on the B2B corporate website, branded Avocet Sports. If the customer then wants to buy the bike, the website will direct them to their nearest bike shop. “We’ll be setting a network of independent dealers throughout the UK,” Clarke continues, “adding to our existing portfolio of dealerships, reinvesting in strong salespeople and repositioning back in the dealer bases.”

The initial range is going to be 13, Clarke says, but it will be added to as the year moves on, with more models brought in around June at higher price points. The focus has been to bring in entry-level products early on in the year. “The initial feedback has been pretty good,” Clarke says. “We should have the samples around the middle to the end of February. If any dealers wanted to make an appointment to come and view the range here at the global design centre, they’re more than welcome to do so and we’ll accommodate them at any time.”

The Insync Bikes team in Manchester has designed the Coyote range while its parent company India’s Hero Cycles is making the bike at its production facilities in Europe and Asia. “We’ve already gone out with some aluminium models and the reaction has been very good,” Clarke continues. “One of our sales guys has been going around with samples and showing the images for the new range, and the initial reaction has been very strong, particularly on the entry-level bikes and the smaller framed models. We’re very optimistic that we’ve got a strong range on our hands.”

Working with IBDs
Clarke says Insync has listened to feedback from its IBD network and created the Coyote range to provide them with a quality bike at the right budget – ensuring there is a separate brand for its IBDs that is not offered for sale online. “We took a lead from the IBDs in so much as answering a request from them,” Clarke says. “There was a demand from our marketplace, from our existing customers, for bikes at this price point. There seems to be very little being offered at these prices in the market.

“We’ve got Hero Global Design Centre, which is part of the Insync business and Hero business. In conjunction with those, we started work some time ago on putting together a strong range of entry-level bikes, offering more in terms of geometry, styling, colours and graphics to give it a much stronger look. What we tried to do is lift it and make those bikes look better with strong designs. The design centre has been working for some time on getting the frame and geometry right and producing a terrific looking bike.

“It is more of a demand we got from our dealers in terms of something they needed us to offer. It’s something of our background. We’ve got the Coyote brand, which has always been a strong brand, and we thought we’d reintroduce that. There’s already an awareness in the marketplace, both from the dealers and the public. We showed a few dealers the frames in the early part of the process, and there was a warm reaction to them. We’ve been taking them around now for a few weeks, samples have been out and the reaction is very encouraging.”

Ian Collins owner of Devereux Cycles in Sale, Greater Manchester, says: “The Coyote range is very striking in its design and colour scheme so will undoubtedly appeal to the younger generation as well as older riders, which is unusual for an entry-level price point. Bikes in this price range can usually be a bit boring and basic but this certainly isn’t the case with the Coyote range, which looks very promising. We have a great relationship with Insync and this range is a change of direction for them, so it’s very exciting for us to take delivery of these bikes.”

Challenging times
The rise in online sales has shaken up the retail industry recently – with stores having to adapt in order to survive. And helping drive consumers to brick and mortar stores is becoming more and more important. “We want to develop a much stronger relationship with our IBDs than we perhaps have had in the past, become much more IBD-focused, and look at ways we can work with them,” Clarke continues.

“The first step is producing an IBD range that will only be in bike shops. It won’t be the Insync website – it will only be available to bike shops. It will ultimately end up online, because bike shops have got an online presence, but it is an IBD-focused brand.” But how positive should we be on the state of the IBD market? “I’m fairly optimistic about our position in the marketplace and having room to grow,” Clarke says.

“I think that there’s more optimism about the IBDs and might that be because it’s been a good reaction to what we’re doing. The whole business is very keen to develop the IBD part and focus on it. There is an optimism right through the Hero business to develop the IBDs in the UK. It’s hard to quantify really – I know bike shops are closing, and it may well polarise around X number of bike shops, but there are always going to be bike shops in the UK. You can’t get your bike fixed online.

“There will always be a dealer base and what we need to do is find a way to work with that dealer base, ensure that we remain in the IBDs and work with them as opposed to against them to help develop their businesses. One small step might be offering them a range of bikes that we feel that they want, and then work around that.”

Industry veteran Eddie Eccleston, who is Insync’s European sales director with 40 years of experience in the bike sector, said it is ‘vital’ in the online era to create exclusive offerings to support IBDs. “Throughout my career, IBDs have been fundamental to the industry and they should be treated with respect,” he says.

“At Insync, we continue to see a key market in retail bricks and mortar bike dealers. It is very important that our customers are supported nationwide and can receive face-to-face advice from passionate, knowledgeable bike specialists. The IBD network can offer a service you cannot receive online, they can advise on a wide range of bike-related questions as well as offer support for repairs, which is a critical part of the buying and aftercare process. A digital concept like click and collect works best when the bike dealer is on-hand to offer expert advice.”

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