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What's the point of restricting to LBS sales only?

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What's the point of restricting to LBS sales only?

Old 07-18-17, 12:01 PM
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15minprior
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What's the point of restricting to LBS sales only?

As someone that requires an odd size (usually the smallest frame size offered in the range), it's frustrating to shop for bikes. Especially when the manufacturer restricts to LBS sales only.

What's the point of requiring the LBS to be the middle man when they require full commitment to the special order? I can't even take it for a test ride. Sure the shops offer test rides for "similar" sized bikes but it's not the same, as I won't get a true feel for the characteristics of that certain frame or they compromise with the next size up (normally 2 sizes up).
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Old 07-18-17, 12:18 PM
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You raise a valid issue, but the makers have various valid reasons for their policies. However there are many brands that have no restrictions.

OTOH - I don't see how the policy changes anything for you, since you cant test ride a bike ordered over the internet.

So, search harder and I'm sure you'll find a shop willing to bring a bike in in your size without a firm commitment.
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Old 07-18-17, 12:25 PM
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The point is warranty service and support. If something goes wrong and you buy direct....the manufacturer (or rather brand), has to deal direct with hordes of claims from customers.

Just about any bike or bike part you buy....the documentation and producer will tell you to seek remedy via your LBS. Which gives you local support, it also gives them a noise filter for immediately bogus claims which saves them on return shipping and diagnostic work and so on...


Say I want to report a curious issue to Shimano (I do)....they don't even publicly list an email to contact them with.
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Old 07-18-17, 12:57 PM
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Because half of the world is made up of middlemen, and they get very angry when they're cut out of the loop. See also: Tesla's fight against state governments to allow them to sell cars directly to consumers. Yes, in many states it's actually illegal for a manufacturer to sell cars directly to consumers.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:00 PM
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The problem is the shop, not the maker's policy. The shop should order the bike and take the risk you won't buy it. If the manager claims he's out the wholesale cost of the bike, tell them that's the risk of running the business and why they're entitled to the markup. If you don't buy it, someone else might. Sometimes, bike shops trade stock as favors, and someone might look for that bike at a nearby shop.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:02 PM
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There is a form of price fixing. So, if a $1000 bicycle gets a 50% markup and is sold by local bike shops for $1500. Then the bike shops won't want the manufacturer to sell direct for a lower price than they can sell it for. Manufactures can get around the problem by uniform minimum pricing, and charging the MSRP for internet sales. But... then as a consumer you're paying for services that you're not receiving.

Some companies such as Bike Friday have chosen a sales model with factory direct internet sales of semi-custom builds for all customers. Thus no high point of sale markups (or perhaps one would consider Bike Friday as keeping that extra markup). And, they're happy to build any size or color that the customer desires.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:02 PM
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Many store bosses complain that a lot of customers use their stores for window shopping and buy bikes and components online much cheaper. They demand that bike companies stop selling online or they won't stock their parts and bikes.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:03 PM
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I think a solution to this problem is for the manufacturer to allocate a few of their flagship/common models every year in the odd sizes to different regions so that LBS with the proper account may request for a trial period for that model/size. Offer overnight shipping and one week trial periods. The LBS and consumer will not be subject to any additional cost or fees.

That's too much wishful thinking as this will drive up prices across the line.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:10 PM
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Or ask the LBS to ask the wholesaler to give some kind of consideration if the bike doesn't sell.

I was in a similar situation with cycling shoes a few months ago. I have a hard time finding shoes that fit. I had reason to believe that a certain shoe would work if I could get it in size 48 (I think) which the shop didn't have. They said they'd be willing to order it if I committed to buying the pair. I didn't take the deal, and I found a shop that had shoes that fit.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:17 PM
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Shoes are even worse, especially if you want to opt for the higher end types like the S-Work 6'. Forget about it if wide versions are required
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Old 07-18-17, 01:33 PM
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Yes, that's my problem. My foot is wide farther forward than most wide feet, so I have to go up a size or two. But most shoes don't fit in any size.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:40 PM
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Price fixing involves firms at the same level (i.e., competitors) getting together and fixing prices charged to purchasers below them.
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Old 07-18-17, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by 15minprior View Post
I think a solution to this problem is for the manufacturer to allocate a few of their flagship/common models every year in the odd sizes to different regions so that LBS with the proper account may request for a trial period for that model/size. Offer overnight shipping and one week trial periods. The LBS and consumer will not be subject to any additional cost or fees.

That's too much wishful thinking as this will drive up prices across the line.
Auto parts stores have done that for ages if they have a chain.

Ask for an obscure part, and they'll tell you which local store carries it, or offer to get it transferred to any store overnight. And, if not in stock locally, they'll get it from a regional warehouse quickly. A lot is done with their normal restocking, so it doesn't cost them much to do the transfer.

Living in a small town, each bicycle shop may carry different brands, so it is not as easy to make inter-store transfers. Plus, only a couple have common ownership. So such a configuration would have to be done through a common regional supplier. And, it likely wouldn't pay to ship whole bicycles around for "test rides".

Really big cities likely have greater overlap between stores, and might have greater benefit of such a regional configuration. Would store managers realize that sending a customer from their store to another to buy an XS or XL bike would benefit them because the sister-store would send customers back for different bicycles? Of course, there is the risk of gaining or losing long-term customers.
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Old 07-18-17, 02:09 PM
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If you buy a bike from REI you have 1 year to test it and possibly return it.
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Old 07-18-17, 02:12 PM
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Don't get me started on car franchise laws and why we need to deal with carr sales people....

I don't think bicycle manufacturers are limited by franchise laws, they are limited by their dealers. the dealer to be a Giant or Trek or whatever dealer needs to buy x number of bicycles every year. so the actual costumer of the manufacturer is the dealer. in return the dealers have the monopoly for that brand in the area. For each brand this is a bit different i assume, but you get the idea why the manufacturer doesn't want to circumvent the dealer. Dealer needs manufacturer, manufacturer needs dealer.

There also is the windowshopping problem they want to avoid.

Giant lets'you order your bike from their website and it gets delivered via the local dealer. I don't know what their cut is in that case since they have some already paid of the same type already sitting in their store. Obviously you still can't test ride one. Other manufacturers may have similar options.

You can contact the manufacturer if they can locate a dealer with a bike in your size in stock to test. Or chose different brand. Your wallet is your only voting device here. You can also order online other brands or off-brands (like nashbar etc.). the situation may suck, but better than for cars where the $-value is much higher that you lose because of the middle man.

If you don't like how the dealer stocks bike sizes, you are free to open your own bike shop and do it better
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Old 07-18-17, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by 15minprior View Post
Offer overnight shipping and one week trial periods. The LBS and consumer will not be subject to any additional cost or fees.
Even with a commercial account, shipping bikes is not cheap. Overnight, even less so. That trial is still likely costing SOMEONE upwards of $100 for two way shipping.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Auto parts stores have done that for ages if they have a chain.
Yep, but that is a chain. Places like Performance and REI will do exactly that. Much harder when you only own one store, though. I suppose you can do something along the lines of car dealers trading stock, but SOMEONE is paying for the fees to transfer, and it isn't going to be the shops.
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Old 07-18-17, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
The shop should order the bike and take the risk you won't buy it. If the manager claims he's out the wholesale cost of the bike, tell them that's the risk of running the business and why they're entitled to the markup. If you don't buy it, someone else might. Sometimes, bike shops trade stock as favors, and someone might look for that bike at a nearby shop.
First off the OP specifies that it is the manufacturer's policy.

Plenty of reasons why this policy might be in effect ...

And if I were the store owner, I would probably Not order a bike in a weird size and figure someone else might buy it. If thought someone might buy it ... I'd already have it. (See, if I don't have it, they can't buy it.)

if I Don't have that odd-sized frame, it is because I don't ever sell any and don't get enough people requesting them, and putting down a deposit, and all that ... and if the risk is losing one customer who might not even buy the bike s/he ordered, or buying a bike I ma pretty sure I cannot sell ... i would recommend that customer try a bigger shop.

Funny, but I seem to recall almost exactly this thread coming up a month or two ago ....

Basically yes, if you are an outlier----if you have specific needs---you will not be well served by shops which are not large enough to make enough money on the middle-of-the-road customers, to take a chance on the outliers.

Try buying clothes or shoes if you have exceedingly unique proportions. Notice how many cars are not comfortable to drive. In a mass-production society, the vast majority of products are designed to accommodate the vast majority of people who are grouped around the median, in size, shape, weight, and taste.

People who differ don't get the same benefits. Too bad for us.

What it means is that the OP will need to make a lot of phone calls, make a lot of long drives, make a lot of effort and spend a lot of time to get what s/he wants. But ... that's life.

it will be harder, but it will be possible. For a lot of people, owning any kind of bicycle is impossible.

Find a bright side ... to keep cheered up on the long drive to the test ride.
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Old 07-18-17, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Barabaika View Post
Many store bosses complain that a lot of customers use their stores for window shopping and buy bikes and components online much cheaper. They demand that bike companies stop selling online or they won't stock their parts and bikes.
Window shopping is a double edged sword.

Stores need to have an appealing store front to get customers inside.

Sometimes I do like to see what is new. I don't buy a lot of new bikes, so whatever I do really isn't competing with the store. However, I'll frequently grab a few extra supplies while I'm in the store. So I might not be buying a $5000 bicycle, but the little purchases of lights, tubes, etc.. all add up.

The bike shops, of course, also need to learn to cater to their customer's needs which includes both price and selection.
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Old 07-18-17, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
The point is warranty service and support. If something goes wrong and you buy direct....the manufacturer (or rather brand), has to deal direct with hordes of claims from customers.
If hordes of people are having problems with a manufacturers bike, then the manufacturer deserves this.
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Old 07-18-17, 04:30 PM
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I think this is what the whole distributor model should address. That should be the point of a distributor -- to ship out, and receive back, the goods of the manufacturer that they're distributing for. If manufacturers aren't going to ship direct, their distributor network should be doing this legwork. They are the real 'middlemen' in this situation, aren't they?
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Old 07-18-17, 06:09 PM
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Your solution is to buy a bike from someone who will sell it to you in the way you want. If there is a particular brand which refuses to do that for you, then you should refuse to to business with them.

Here in Japan the situation is worse, as the manufacturers usually have relationships with distributors, and distributors have relationships with retailers. Not only is it impossible to get a bike directly, you cannot shop around at different places expecting to get a better price, all of them charge the same thing. If a bike shop sells below MSRP, he will be cut off. And no test rides are allowed, period. In Japan, they think that if someone sits on the bike and rides it around the parking lot, it is no longer new.

I once tried setting up an online shop for new bicycles here in Japan. I'm a licensed importer/exporter, and thought I could make some money in the business. The models I wanted to sell were understocked (or unstacked) in most stores, and I thought that manufacturers would be happy to get another retailer to sell their goods. I was wrong. All bikes imported into Japan go through a handful of distributors, and in order to get bikes from them, I would be restricted against competing with other Japanese retailers. How the hell am I supposed to make money by doing the same thing everyone else does?

I was not even allowed to buy bikes to resell outside Japan. In America or Europe I could have started filing lawsuits left and right, but in Japan that isn't possible. Price fixing, corporate collusion, and relationships created to limit competition are technically illegal, but the companies own the government, and such laws are never enforced.

Japan's economy is in mid-flush right now because practices likes this have raised retail prices to the point that people aren't buying, and are having fewer children because the cost of living is too high. If I buy a bike, I get one from a European seller, and have it shipped to me in Japan. Even with shipping and import fees, I can still get a better deal.
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Old 07-18-17, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post
If I buy a bike, I get one from a European seller, and have it shipped to me in Japan. Even with shipping and import fees, I can still get a better deal.

Almost every time I fly in without my own bicycle I ask if anyone wants me to pick up a bike or something since prices are generally a lot lower in the US...

...And every time I fly out it's with at least one suitcase full of those Alfort cookies.
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Old 07-18-17, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Sangetsu View Post
I once tried setting up an online shop for new bicycles here in Japan. I'm a licensed importer/exporter, and thought I could make some money in the business. The models I wanted to sell were understocked (or unstacked) in most stores, and I thought that manufacturers would be happy to get another retailer to sell their goods. I was wrong. All bikes imported into Japan go through a handful of distributors, and in order to get bikes from them, I would be restricted against competing with other Japanese retailers. How the hell am I supposed to make money by doing the same thing everyone else does?
If you really want to compete in such a market, the do something that nobody else is doing.

For example, you could contact Bike Friday and see if you could buy bikes from them by the dozen or so. Would it be better to
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Old 07-20-17, 08:58 AM
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Thanks for everyone's contributions.
Too bad for irregular folks, c'est la vie.

I may take my time to build my dream bike instead.
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Old 07-20-17, 09:45 AM
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One of the problems with small or large bikes is that they are usually a money loser for bike shops, and so they are a money loser for bike companies. It's really hard to get the numbers right, and they tend to err on the side of not ordering too many. I don't know if selling to individuals would help this at all. I know a tall person that always gets bikes at dealer cost or even below. The LBS sells just enough to tall people that it's worth it to stock some. Apparently there are fewer short people that buy bikes, although they usually have some small bikes on sale too.

LBS's have a choice of brands to sell, they aren't going to try to compete with the internet. Which will really kill a brand if they don't have floor space. The floor space is the only strength of a LBS, why should they use it to promote another companies sales? One of the QBP brands was going to go to internet sales this year. My LBS had been stocking them, but not if it goes on the internet. I think even an MBA at a bike company can figure this out.

Bike shops are hurting because of lack of bike riding. People that aren't interested in riding bikes don't buy bikes. I don't see internet brands on the road or in bike racks, so I feel that the internet threat is overblown.

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