In a very short period of time, companies like VeloFix and Beeline Bikes have been driving (pun!) a new kind of business in our industry by bringing a complete service department to your front door. VeloFix is taking it one step further by partnering with multiple bike brands to bring you your new bike as well. With VeloFix DIRECT, consumers will be able to purchase a bike and not have to hassle with the un-packaging, assembly, adjustments and fit.
Check out why this could be a bigger game changer than you think, as well as where it falls short and may not be for everybody…
There has been a constant struggle within the industry, especially in brick and mortar bike shops, trying to adapt their business model now that the consumer is making all of the calls as to how and where they buy. With unprecedented global access (compared to primarily depending on their local bike shop for all their needs pre-internet), customers want convenience. And that means clicking rather than leaving home or office to make a purchase. That is now a fairly simple task to accomplish with parts and accessories, however complete bikes is another story.
We are aware that this service may not apply to many of our greatly appreciated audience here at Bikerumor, who are highly tech savvy and can assemble an internally cable routed tri-machine with their eyes closed while eating a protein bar. However, when you consider the greater majority of the bike buying population that don’t wrench on bikes all the time, things change drastically. Even when bike buyers have their own tools, the best instructional videos aren’t good enough for some, but the much BIGGER part to all of this is that the general consumer just doesn’t want to do it. They want to click and have a “ready to ride” bike appear at their doorstep, and VeloFix DIRECT will do just that.
So far they’ve partnered with Turner, Van Dessel, Spot, and Ellsworth for the U.S., plus Yeti in Canada (not in the U.S. for that brand, sorry)… and many more are said to be on the way. You basically buy the bike directly from the bike company. They ship it to your local VeloFix rolling shop, who shows up to your home or office with your new bike, already set up. Just like a bike shop, they will offer modifications and upgrades and make sure you’re good to go before heading off to their next appointment.
With almost 40 mobile shops on the road and an expected 75 by year’s end in Canada and the U.S., VeloFix’s “Direct to Consumer” model becomes even more complete. Not perfect… but better. Not getting to test the bike ahead of time and getting a better idea of what type of bike would be an ideal fit, (try to count the categories of mountain bikes alone on one hand), there is always the chance that someone will order the wrong size or just simply regret the purchase and want to return it. This will be a challenge but we bet not common enough to affect the overall success of the program.
Velofix co-founder Chris Guillemet had this to say…
“E-commerce and the expectations from consumers for a direct model are forcing change in the Bike industry. Today all bicycle manufacturers need to have a dependable and efficient last-mile delivery program in place. The single biggest challenge to fulfill customers expectations for a direct sales model in the bike industry is the need for the bikes to be assembled, fit and for a safety check to be performed”.
Will services like VeloFix DIRECT replace what we know today as a “Local Bike Shop”? Yes and no. This is a growing category that simply gives consumers more of what they want (convenience) and will likely steer savvier consumers away from their LBS…i.e., the ones that already know exactly what they want and can’t find it locally. And for brands that don’t have a solid retail presence or sales force to create it, this becomes one more way to expand availability. Plus, all the shops we know have limited floor space and budget for inventory, so even if they wanted to carry every cool brand, they simply can’t.
But this service may not even register with a shop’s “bread & butter” customers who just want a bike to ride around on and go in to get advice and learn what’s available. Many long established bike shops are aware of the upcoming changes and rather than complain and lose business have already progressed to offering on-site repairs, free pick-up & delivery, or one of many other services to reduce their current and new customers’ purchasing efforts.