“Most people in the room didn’t have a clue who I was”

When bike shop owner Ceri Dipple walked up to collect her Woman of the Year gong at this year’s BikeBiz Awards she felt that "most people in the room didn’t have a clue who I was".

"Well, they do now!" replied BikeBiz editor-at-large Carlton Reid on an audio interview with Dipple, owner of Stony Stratford road-bike shop Twenty3C. She founded the shop when she was just 22, and starting a bike retail business at such a tender age is much discussed on the Spokesmen industry podcast, which was recorded yesterday.

Also discussed on the show is the future for bike retail, including the benefits of operating a linked coffee-shop and offering bike-fit. In an interview in the current BikeBiz magazine Dipple said:

"The only way I see for bricks and mortar stores to survive is for them to focus more on service revenue, and this extends further than the workshop. At the moment, you can’t compete on pricing, and you can’t expect a consumer to pay full RRP to ultimately subsidise your store. We are all consumers – can anyone honestly say that they don’t buy anything online or look for a discount on products or services? It’s all about value to the customer, and value looks different to everyone. Consumers will pay more in-store than online, but at what point does it become too much?

She added: "It’s not easy to turn the model around from a retail revenue-driven business to a service revenue-driven business, where retail sales are supplementary, but unless this happens, bricks and mortar stores will remain exposed. 

"Moving forwards, I believe a retailer will still be retailing product, it will just change and the revenue generated from it will likely decrease. You only have to look at the commission-based schemes that are out there at the moment to see that it’s already happening from a distribution perspective. Don’t wait for that revenue to be taken away before you start to think about how you replace it."

The podcast interview with Dipple also explores her views on Women Specific Design (she’s not a fan); the benefits of stocking just one bike brand (Twenty3c is a Bianchi-only store); and why she put herself through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme (it was free, and empowering).

There’s also mentions for the shop’s support of Team Onform and Writtle University College’s WUC Cycling Performance degree

The Spokesman podcast – which has been narrowcasting since 2006 –  is available on iTunes and other podcast places. Launched and hosted by American David "Fredcast" Bernstein, the fortnightly show is now produced by Reid and regularly features BikeBiz content.

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