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Explain to me why some bikes can't be sold online?

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Explain to me why some bikes can't be sold online?

Old 10-05-11, 06:02 AM
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Explain to me why some bikes can't be sold online?

My wife gave me the green light on a weight weenie build project for the winter. I probably won't go through with it but decided to look around online just for fun. Competitive cyclist used to sell and ship cervelos but no longer do so. Now all cervelos online are for in-store purchase only. Same thing goes for the cannondales, or at least the EVO. Why do manufacturers do this?
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Old 10-05-11, 06:11 AM
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Because the dealers get together and demand it.

Dealers don't appreciate the manufacturer wholesaling to someone shipping mail-order out of a storage unit, for 20% less than what the bike shops can charge.
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Old 10-05-11, 06:43 AM
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It is probably in your best interest. Now you will go to a dealer and hopefully get a perfect fitting and adjustment on your new bike. Then you can take your bike back into the shop and have everything adjusted perfect when the cables stretch a little and it doesn't shift well, etc. etc.. Of course, there are some of us that don't need this but this forum is filled with posts from people that bought online and obviously did.
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Old 10-05-11, 07:31 AM
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As Doug said, many manufacturers stipulate no online sales.

The manufacturers want to assure that the buyer gets a certain level of service offered by an LBS. Additionally, it assures that LBS'es will stay in business to provide continued service and sales later on.

I know of one shop that put its year-end inventory on eBay. Specialized saw it and dropped them as a dealer.
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Old 10-05-11, 07:42 AM
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I disagree about the best interest. You can pay for service. In fact the LBS has a greater incentive to provide good service when they're being paid for it, rather than it being bundled into a new bike sale.

Interesting blog from Competitive Cyclist's founder which touches on this subject about halfway into it:
https://www.competitivecyclist.com/wh...omers.422.html

Quoted excerpt:
[..] is the business reality that the bike industry is on a collision course with the realities of online consumer spending. The amazing growth of companies like Specialized and Trek in the US comes from their single-minded focus on developing their dealer bases. For a decade they've pried away share from each other and from everyone else in a heavyweight slugfest. That process effectively neutered every other bike brand in America and created the notion that Trek and Specialized alone hold the future direction of American bike retail in their hands.

Behind this is a secret you need to know: The US bike industry is not built around you, the consumer. Rather every program and every sales rep visit and every trade show conversation comes back to one question: "What's in it for the dealer?" Where this gets messy is when the conversation turns to the topic of the Internet. It's clear that a best practice for modern commerce already exists. Look at America's most beloved companies: Apple, Patagonia, Oakley, and Nike just to name a few. For them nothing is more important than customer convenience. As a result they offer their products through multiple sales channels: Consumer-direct online; online through third party retailers; consumer-direct through factory brick-and-mortar stores; and through third party brick-and-mortar retailers. Why so many sales channels? Because retail consumption can be a finicky thing. To deprive consumers of convenience and you deprive your brand of the lifeblood of revenue."
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Old 10-05-11, 08:22 AM
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Keeping in mind that I'm not an online bicycle dealer...

Sounds like a bit of sour grapes to me. Apple, Patagonia etc definitely view "customer convenience" as a means to an end, namely more profits. Apple spent years clamping down on, screwing over, and now competing against, retailers of their widgets. A product like Nike has a strong enough brand to survive in its own stores and the 99¢ stores. A Patagonia jacket doesn't need to be fitted to you in the same way or extent as a bicycle.

I might add that CC issued these comments as part of an explanation on why they sold themselves to Backcountry, a high-end online sports retailer (which in turn is owned by Liberty Media, a media conglomerate). Perhaps they did so to increase "customer convenience," perhaps it won't work out that way....

Also, keep in mind that many companies do want to keep a tight grip on their product and its branding. You may not like it, but as long as the company isn't discriminating based on race, gender, creed etc I don't see anything wrong with it; they're not obligated to sell you a product at the price you want and in the way that you want. In doing so they run the risk of alienating a customer, but it's their business, their responsibility, their choice.
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Old 10-05-11, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Farby
My wife gave me the green light on a weight weenie build project for the winter. I probably won't go through with it but decided to look around online just for fun. Competitive cyclist used to sell and ship cervelos but no longer do so. Now all cervelos online are for in-store purchase only. Same thing goes for the cannondales, or at least the EVO. Why do manufacturers do this?
Why do manufacturers do this, or why does Cervelo do this? Next time you're on the Cervelo web site, you may search their community discussion or their News Page. There's a lively discussion in the community section. The Cervelo News section gives their reasons.

Recently I went to a local Cervelo dealer in Newport Beach. At that time, they had like 4 or 5 demo bikes for a potential buyer to try out. Their least expensive frameset for the S2 goes for $2,000, according to the Cervelo web site.
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Old 10-05-11, 08:33 AM
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Simple: buy something else.
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Old 10-05-11, 08:33 AM
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psimet (at least I think it was him, if it was someone else, I appologize) once said that all the manufacturers have ready made direct sell websites ready to go at the push of a button when one of their competitors does it so they're not left behind but currently they don't want to be the first one to alienate their dealers.
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Old 10-05-11, 08:35 AM
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I'm not sure I buy that guy's argument. Choosing not to sell a bike online may actually be exactly about the consumer's experience. A bicycle is not a phone, it needs to fit and every buyer has unique needs and questions. I'm guessing they dont want the sales experience to be only about who has the cheapest price.
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Old 10-05-11, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
Keeping in mind that I'm not an online bicycle dealer...

Sounds like a bit of sour grapes to me. Apple, Patagonia etc definitely view "customer convenience" as a means to an end, namely more profits. Apple spent years clamping down on, screwing over, and now competing against, retailers of their widgets. A product like Nike has a strong enough brand to survive in its own stores and the 99¢ stores. A Patagonia jacket doesn't need to be fitted to you in the same way or extent as a bicycle.
Baccia,

The 4 cited companies do not have a lot to do with CC specifically. However they can compare/contrast somewhat to the big 4 of bicycling: Trek, Specialized, Giant and Cannondale. Apple and Oakley in particular have uber-strict MSRP pricing online and in retail stores.

I have no idea if CC would be success in such a model (EDIT) as Oakley requires; the brands they do carry start at MSRP but then they run promotions, particularly end-of-season closeouts, which see huge discounts and Apple, Oakley, and I presume Trek would not go for that.

Point is, people are definitely willing to buy bikes at a real or perceived discount through internet-direct shops rather than a LBS. At some point, eventually the Big 4 will have to do something about it. Right now they are trudging along.
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Old 10-05-11, 08:44 AM
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Manufacturers believe they will have more sales and profits if they have a large network of brick and mortar shops selling at manufacturer specified pricing. Allowing telephone, "mail-order" or internet sales ( all the same thing) would favor fewer larger mail-order retailers and put the smaller shops in jeopardy.
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Old 10-05-11, 08:52 AM
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https://www.canyon.com/_en/roadbikes/bike.html?b=2142
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Old 10-05-11, 09:07 AM
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I think if cycling were to suddenly expand in popularity again like it has a few times over the last 50 years that some manufacturer might try to emulate the Apple business model with a solid web sales outlet and strategically located retail outlets owned by the manufacturer itself. A smart retailer could walk buyers through the kind of measurements folks here recommend for an initial fitting, then ship them a partially assembled bike with seat tube and seat rails marked accordingly and the proper stem preselected. And if that doesn't suit the buyer, direct them to the "greasemonkey bar" at the nearest retail outlet for a custom fit or gear adjustment.
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Old 10-05-11, 09:22 AM
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Trek has their own retail stores already. I don't think others do, yet, but I can see Specialized making a move since they have all the clothing & accessories under various brands just like Trek has with Bontrager.
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Old 10-05-11, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ColinL
Interesting blog from Competitive Cyclist's founder
Which shows its obvious bias. Convenience? What is so convenient about buying a bike without having someone there who can help you tune it up and fit it to you (especially for the newbie)? Or having to wait for a replacement part to be shipped to you? I don't think getting a fitting or a repair done would be very convenient if I had to get it over the internet.

I'm not against online retailers, and I buy a number of parts and accessories online, but for the founder of one to spat off whining about a manufacturer's decisions is a little annoying, and makes me reconsider supporting that store. Consumers vote with their dollar. If they hated getting bikes in a brick and mortar store, then KHS, Diamondback, Fuji, and GT would be the top brands instead of Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, and Cervelo.
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Old 10-05-11, 09:51 AM
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It's not whining or bias. He is explaining his point of view as a successful internet-based shop. You would of course get a different perspective from Trek, a local bike shop, and struggling internet-based shops. Bias is when you choose something over another for illogical reasons because you simply prefer it.

Having a perspective on an industry you participate in is mandatory, expressing that perspective publicly is optional.

Bias would be if he told everyone that CC was the best all the time regardless of transaction type or the customer's needs.
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Old 10-05-11, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by ColinL
It's not whining or bias. He is explaining his point of view as a successful internet-based shop. You would of course get a different perspective from Trek, a local bike shop, and struggling internet-based shops. Bias is when you choose something over another for illogical reasons because you simply prefer it.

Having a perspective on an industry you participate in is mandatory, expressing that perspective publicly is optional.
Fair enough, but calling a company "single minded" when that company has achieved a great deal of success comes across as whining. Obviously, they are doing something right. Obviously, Competitive Cyclist is doing something right as well, but they obviously have a different perspective than Trek or Specialized.
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Old 10-05-11, 10:40 AM
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I think there are good points to both online and in-store sales channels. It depends on the type of consumer as well. For a lot of more advanced consumers, the in-store help isn't often very effective. For me, a particularly discerning consumer, a shop employee can rarely answer my questions well enough for me to make a decision. Also, I can detect BS pretty well, and I find that a typical shop employee is willing to assume much and pass it off as fact or use dishonest sales tactics. Usually, the guy in charge has enough product knowledge to be truly helpful, but his time comes at a premium, and in the limited time he has, he may or may not be all that helpful. The selection isn't optimal, understandably, and everything typically costs significantly more. These things can't really be helped, they are the nature of the beast. They have more overhead, less skilled labor, and a smaller market. I (and others) would probably still try to go to LBSs to show loyalty, etc, if that was all there was to it, but it isn't. It gets more complicated when you have to drive 45-60mi one way to get to the nearest LBS, most of the workers are jerks and know less than you about virtually every product, usually don't have what you are looking for and if they order it, you will still have to pick it up in person as there is no reasonably priced direct shipping option (or no option at all) ...and what if you have to return/exchange it?

In contrast, certain online retailers I use, have operators with vast product knowledge, who are courteous and willing to find the answers to my questions if they don't know the answer. They ship direct, often offer free return shipping and have a generous return policy, have more selection, and lower prices. For a customer who knows what they need/want this approach makes more sense. For those who don't know what they want, or don't care as much about specifics, LBS employees can guide them to what they are looking for.
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Old 10-05-11, 10:43 AM
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The cycling market in the US *is* badly broken.

WItness the fact that the cheapest way to get tires (and many other parts) is to buy 'em online from the UK and get 'em shipped here.
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Old 10-05-11, 10:54 AM
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Hmmm, customer convenience is all good and fine with products by Nike, Patagonia, etc but that is an apples/oranges comparison. Their products are in final stage and only need be delivered to an end user and immediately "put on" in an unaltered/adjusted state. That is FAR from the case with bike components much less complete bikes. So as a corporate rationale for why NOT to direct sell I'm sure they take into account the general...., er...., let's call it "inexperience" rather than "ignorance" of the standard end user. It they direct sell most Matt and Marys will be tempted to go with the cheaper direct option regardless of their skill (or lack thereof) in proper fitting and assembly.

So MnM buys a "great deal" $2000 setup and then hacks it together poorly DIY. When the fit stinks or the expensive ride doesn't ride well (you name the prob from over/under tightening to forgetting lube or what have you) you know tons of these DIY dolts will blame anyone but themselves. "I just bought this $3000 X-brand and it sucks worse than my old Huffy... blah, blah, blah."

What it comes down to is that the average bike consumer is sadly way below average in the knowledge department. I mean just consider for a second the inane and frightening ignorant comments/ideas we see on a daily basis here in our beloved BF despite page after page volumes of quality information. Add to that the reality that theoretical knowledge is no substitute for hands on wrenching experience. The fact is direct sales of good but unassembled bikes stands a good potential chance of actually hurting the manufacturers brand. DIY bikes and bike fits simply would not ON AVERAGE be of the same quality as those sold by the professional LBS.

So why hurt the LBS and potentially your brand quality by selling directly to consumers who will definitely chase price but will not likely end up with a good overall value??
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Old 10-05-11, 11:10 AM
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Problem is getting sales and service/support into areas like the US. Boardman and others are having this same issue. Not easy.
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Old 10-05-11, 11:20 AM
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It is a way the companies can protect their dealers and fix their prices. Otherwise, big chains with huge buying power would be selling all of the bikes. Do you want to get your bike from Walmart/Sam's Club with no service provided?

Let me ask you a question, when you need some hardware for your house do you go to the local hardware store or do you frequent Lowes/Home Depot? (if they are in your area) Probably Lowes/HD because their buying power means lower prices. That's what would happen in the bike industry also.
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Old 10-05-11, 11:56 AM
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It's about whether the thing you're buying is a commodity, or if you need extra services in addition to the thing.

For instance, tires and tubes are commodities. They require no service, I don't need someone to install them for me, I just need the tires/tubes. So I'm going to buy them the cheapest place I can get them. That means likely a place with lower overhead, like an online seller.

Is a bike a commodity to you? Or is it something that you need value-added services? Services like building up the bike, tune-ups, fitting, etc. For many serious cyclists, a bike is a commodity, because they're perfectly willing and capable of building, fitting, and maintaining the bike on their own. For many though, the value-added services bike fitting and maintenance are required. If a bike is a commodity to you, there's no point in paying for those services, which is essentially what you're doing when shopping at an LBS. But if you need the service an LBS can provide, then that is definitely the place to shop.

Convenience is also a value-added service though. If I need a part right now and the LBS has it in stock right now, then I'm willing to pay for that service. If the LBS has to order it, then there's no value-added for me, and I'll shop wherever I can get the cheapest price. Probably Amazon, where shipping is also free, and the return policy is probably better than the one at the LBS anyway.

My most recent purchase was shoes, and was a good example of commodity vs service for me. I didn't need a fitting as I know my size, and my LBS doesn't stock half-sizes or wide-sizes. My choice was clear, wait for the LBS to order me shoes, or order them myself for less money. The LBS didn't add any value to my shoes, so I got them cheaper elsewhere. If they'd had half-sizes in stock, they probably would've made a sale that day because of the convenience. But that means they would've been carrying a lot more stock, which has a cost to them as well. They made a business decision that I completely respect, and I chose to shop elsewhere. I got lucky that a pair of Lake shoes came through bonktown that same night, and they're awesome.

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Old 10-05-11, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat
It is a way the companies can protect their dealers and fix their prices. Otherwise, big chains with huge buying power would be selling all of the bikes. Do you want to get your bike from Walmart/Sam's Club with no service provided?

Let me ask you a question, when you need some hardware for your house do you go to the local hardware store or do you frequent Lowes/Home Depot? (if they are in your area) Probably Lowes/HD because their buying power means lower prices. That's what would happen in the bike industry also.
Ay, there's the rub. Reminds me of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N95IMKRkcBw

*NSFW

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