Part Two of Mystery Shopper's report...

MYSTERY SHOPPER: Peterborough Part Two

You can read the first part of the report here.

Robertsons Cycle Centre
Situated in the town centre, Robertsons Cycle Centre has an old-school bike shop feel. Boasting a huge sign visible from the nearby main road, Robertsons enjoys a high profile and during Mystery Shopper’s visit saw a good level of passing trade head through the shop.

Mystery Shopper found the store to be well laid out and welcoming, with a sales assistant greeting me shortly after entering. The staff member said that the store didn’t actually hold stock of ‘sit-up-and-beg’ bikes, but would order them in, and advised of the lead time. Supporting a Pashley range, the staff member showed me a catalogue and chatted about the bikes and features of different models. According to Robertsons, the style of bike was more of a consistent seller than one that was growing in popularity.

That other vital sales tool – product labelling – was excellent in Robertsons, providing price and key feature information, ideal for busy times in store when sales assistants are too busy to attend to browsers.

Overall, the well-laid out shop was welcoming and staffed with knowledgeable employees.

A1 Bikes
A1 Bikes, aka Motorcare, is something of a curiousity among most of the bike shops visited. With plenty of eye-catching signage outside the store, including a huge banner promoting fireworks, the front of the store is stocked with car accessories, while bikes are located at the back and also in a small upstairs room.

Despite that, bikes are obviously a key part of the store’s appeal, with plenty of cycles displayed outside the shop. The blend of products appeared popular with punters as the store was very busy, which was also no doubt fuelled by the prime city centre location.

Bike signage was primarily pushing a £10 deposit scheme, and while features weren’t listed, the messaging could well have proved an incentive to purchase. A sales assistant approached me after a few minutes perusal and was a little unenthusiastic, needing heavy prompting to discuss the bikes and never leading the conversation or encouraging a sale. While this particular staff member wasn’t as helpful as those in other stores, the shop did hold a good stock of bikes in the category, leaving me with options to purchase on the spot.

Mystery Shopper found the entrance to this Halfords store hard to find, unlike the more obvious retail park set-ups common for the chain. Doubtless though, that wouldn’t put off locals and the determined from visiting.

A small selection of bikes on the ground floor led to a far wider selection upstairs. After several minutes of uninterrupted browsing Mystery Shopper approached one of three sales staff for assistance. I was told that there weren’t any models in the store in the sector I’d requested – probably. The two sales assistants I spoke to seemed to have a sketchy product knowledge and little awareness of the type of bike requested – something that hadn’t been a problem in any of the other stores visited on the day. A couple of women-only models were found after some investigation, however. To compound the shaky service there was no indication that the sales assistants had finished their conversation with me, as they merely turned away to other tasks.

It’s worth noting that the weak service on show here contrasts with recent experiences with the chain, which has seemingly invested much in upping service levels.

During the visit to Peterborough, Mystery Shopper found that a local JJB branch didn’t stock bikes, but encouragingly the staff referred me to a neighbouring independent dealer. Also on the day, Mystery Shopper visited Exclusively Bikes. Sadly the store didn’t stock the type of bike that was the subject of this day’s visit.

Appropriately, the Sustainable Travel Town provided some real bike store gems. Independent dealers Bristows and Woodston stood out, providing excellent customer service. Bristows’ service surpassed expectation through taking the time to find out exactly what the customer wanted, delivering options and information, and creating a connection which would ultimately incentivise a customer to make a purchase.

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