With the continuing overstocking issues blighting the cycle trade, Phil Baker from e-commerce platform Push Retail explores the implications of price reductions
This piece first appeared in the February edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Selling bikes online is competitive and challenging for businesses and as demand reduces, retailers are often tempted into a pricing ‘race to the bottom’. Particularly on bigger ticket items, margins are getting tighter and operational costs are on the up.
While price is certainly an important factor for many consumers, it is not the only way to sell bikes online. Here are a few reasons why dropping prices may not be the only strategy for your operation, and some alternative approaches you can take to attract and retain customers.
Product offering – Making sure you differentiate yourself from your competition allows you to have a competitive edge. Although you still want to make sure your products are in high demand, it may not be an idea to focus on those products that are readily available and that other retailers are heavily discounting. Stocking models that differentiate your offering, in the right sizes, is an important step to a successful digital strategy.
Service – Providing a superior transaction experience is tough, but not impossible and can be the difference between the sale being a one off or the customer returning for more. When processing orders it’s easy for retailers to forget how emotive some of these purchases have been for the customer and that has a strong hand in their decision as to who to buy from.
For retailers with a bricks-and-mortar location, encouraging the customer to collect from the store can open up huge opportunities to create a relationship through a thorough handover process and set-up. This also opens the door for tag on sales and up-sell, as well as return custom.
Some online retailers even offer a ‘white glove’ service, skipping the courier all together and delivering themselves, just to maintain the one-to-one human engagement that is missed in normal online sales. Hard work at the time of sale can pay dividends and is the start of a loyal customer base.
Shopping Experience – In addition to differentiating your services, the quality of the digital shopping experience is a key factor for many consumers. Customers are more likely to return to a website and make additional purchases if they had a positive experience the first time around. This can include things like easy navigation, clear product descriptions, and responsive customer service. The speed and ease at which customers receive their exciting new toy makes a huge difference, and a slick site, keeping the customer informed and a reliable courier is key.
Finance – When consumers have the option to finance a purchase, this may lead to larger or more expensive purchases that they may not have been able to afford upfront. Through the use of different finance options, such as Klarna, consumers can spread the cost of the purchase over a longer period of time, which can make the purchase more manageable from a financial standpoint.
This is especially relevant in current times, when consumers are more cautious with their money, so flexibility around payments is key to maintaining sales. Customers often favour certain methods and offering as many options as possible at the best possible rates will only broaden your appeal.
Loyalty – Building a loyal customer base can be an effective way to sell bikes and P&A online. This can be achieved through a variety of means, such as offering loyalty programs, providing excellent customer service, and regularly re-engaging with your customers through email newsletters and social media.
By utilising these channels, you can give personality behind your brand, so it doesn’t feel like the customer is buying from a faceless website, but an independent retailer which cares about them and their experience. By creating a sense of community and building relationships with your customers, you can create a loyal consumer-base that is more likely to continue purchasing from your business.
Visibility – How easily can people find you online? Time and effort invested in organic SEO will see you coming up much higher on the SERPs (search engine results pages), as will well-tagged, clean and clear page layout. If your product offering can be easily found then you have a much better chance of selling it over a lower priced retailer who’s out in the proverbial wilderness.
Unique copy can be a real differentiator online, taking the time to inject your own thoughts into your product pages will be effort well invested and reap rewards for the long term. Much like getting and keeping fit, this effort sustained over time will see you sitting high up in the search results, guaranteeing you relevant web traffic and clicks. Tie this in with visibility across social channels for a joined up benefit and you’re really starting to overcome the need to drop prices.
Sales and targeted price reductions can be beneficial when clearing out the old to make way for the new. Liquidating to release funds in order to invest elsewhere has its place in retail, but is an unsustainable strategy in the long term. If it is a tried and trusted process in your business then try supplementing with the above to really improve the efficiency of your business.
Push Retail is an e-commerce platform and data provider for bike shops, suppliers and cycling brands, purpose-built for the cycling industry, with an ever-growing feature list, we let you manage your online business in one place.