Seventies Distribution launched the direct-to-consumer Backyard BMX website in late 2022. BikeBiz finds out how it’s supporting BMX stores. By Rebecca Morley
This piece first appeared in the February edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Much of retail has faced challenges over the past few years, with stores needing to compete with online and some struggling to stay open as a result of declining sales. With the retail forecast looking turbulent for the foreseeable future, it’s vital that shops are supported by brands and distributors from elsewhere in the industry.
Seventies Distribution is hoping to support BMX shops and skateparks with its recently launched direct-to-consumer website, under the Backyard BMX name, which features all the 15+ brands and 3,500 products it distributes for same-day shipping.
Customers to the website will be able to nominate one of about 15 shops to support and Seventies said it will handle the packing, shipping, processing fees, and the store will receive a commission in the form of a credit on their account.
“The new site displays our full range of products and allows customers to select a store to support,” Seventies owner Stuart Dawkins told BikeBiz. “A percentage of the profit then goes back to the store that’s been selected, less the fees incurred by Seventies for shipping and processing.
“With the decline in sales post-pandemic many shops have their money tied up in inventory and simply don’t have spare capital to invest in new products.
“As a distributor for over 10 brands, it’s important for us to have our products available for consumers to buy so this site helps to ensure that all SKUs [stock keeping units] from our brands are represented whilst still giving the customer the choice to support their local shop.”
Seventies is hoping that by promoting this website it can increase the sales of these brands while simultaneously supporting BMX stores. Seventies also organises the Backyard Jam events, and sponsors BMX riders, and this is another way it said it intends to support the stores that are fundamental to both maintaining and growing BMX in the UK.
Seventies will continue to operate both the traditional wholesale model with its B2B website, phone orders and stock feeds alongside the Backyard BMX website. On why it is so important to support BMX stores in this way, Dawkins explained: “It’s very difficult for shops to list so many different products, not just from Seventies Distribution but from other distributors as well.
“Many of the shops that do have comprehensive websites don’t have the staff time to list and promote our full range of products online and may be missing out on sales. The Backyard website aims to help expand their online business while freeing up their time and resources.”
With more sales moving online, how best to support stores is a topic many businesses in the industry are considering, in a bid to make sure bricks and mortar retail survives. Physical stores are vital in the cycling industry so customers can see products before purchasing, and many are now also offering workshop and repair services.
But what more can businesses be doing to support retailers? “As a distributor our stock file is readily available for all shops to access the information either to update their website or via the Citrus-Lime software,” continued Dawkins.
“The BMX market has many high-priced parts that most shops couldn’t be expected to hold in stock so we offer a drop ship programme whereby we send the item directly to the consumer to fulfil the order.
“As Seventies we work closely with British Cycling to organise the Backyard Jam series of events around the UK to help promote the sport and get more parents and kids involved in BMX. The more we can grow the sport as an industry the more everyone will benefit.”
So how much is retail changing, and what can we expect to see as we head into 2023? “For many years we’ve seen a number of core BMX stores struggling to remain open and don’t see things getting any easier in the immediate future,” said Dawkins. “We’re hoping the site will go some way to supporting these stores.
“Many of the benefits BMX stores can bring is due to them having a physical location where customers can see and touch the products as well as getting help with installation, servicing and product advice. Without BMX having a retail presence all these benefits would disappear and the BMX ecosystem would be worse for it.
“Many bike shops are already evolving, focusing more on repairs or combining with other complimentary businesses such as coffee shops and I’d imagine we’ll see more examples of this in the years ahead.”
The new site can be viewed at www.backyardbmx.co.uk and dealers that are interested in being a part of the programme can contact Seventies Distribution on 01424 855556.