ProBikeKit is an established online retailer from Cumbria in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1998 it became part of The Hut group, a unite that owns and operates a number of online brands and boasts a yearly growth rate of 15%. You can read more on the ownership in The Telegraph article on The Hut acquisition of ProBikeKit.
As a consumer it can be difficult to judge an online bike shop. Are the reliable and trustworthy. Are they good value and will you be looked after as a valued customer?
On Smart Cyclists, the shops included for comparison are all establish and of good reputation although this doesn’t mean all customers will have a good shopping experience all of the time.
By way of example, the online reputation of ProBikeKit has been briefly researched with interesting results.
Usually when searching using Google, ProBikeKit will have an advertisement, and it is interesting to note the 4.2 / 5 star ranking. What is the advertiser ranking? Google uses their party review websites, their Google Trusted Store program, info from an independent ratings company (StellaService – for the USA only) and ratings from google customer surveys to produce the advertiser ranking. Advertisers can choose whether or not this is displayed.
What is interesting is that on the first page of results, there is a 3/10 rating based on 56 reviews from a service called Reseller Ratings. That doesn’t look good at all. The quoted first review begins with “US Customers Beware!!!!” [link]
Continuing there are reviews from a more familiar name, Trustpilot. They split between the UK and the USA and it is interesting to note that while UK customers (with 1,137 reviews) rank the shop 9.2 from 10, the US (or international) customers with 221 review rank the retailer at only 7.2 from 10.
Basic analysis suggests that the UK customers are happier and for overseas (or US) customers, there are more problems. This is useful info although it doesn’t mean that one in four customers are disappointed, the ranking calculates 4/5 and 3/5 ratings.
Clicking through to the reviews is enlighting and the most recent reviews are eye opening.
1/5 – Make sure they have the product they are trying to sell you before you purchase!
1/5 – Terrible Customer Service, Fraudulent Business Activities, Avoid.
2/5 – Look Elsewhere
2/5 – “Free shipping” is a farce. Disappointed.
Ouch. Four recent negative reviews before the first positive one. Lets look at the UK website for a bit of a balance.
5/5 – Quick service for reasonably priced products
1/5 – Didn’t work
5/5 – Good, speedy service
5/5 – Excellent service and brilliant communication in relation to delivery
The UK reviews are also more recent and appear to confirm that UK customers are getting better service.
Lets have a look at other sources of reviews. A service called feefo.com gives ProBikeKit a 97% ranking and clicking through presents a slighty more comprehensive and interative format with the service and products split. The 92% is inline with the UK Trustpilot 9.2/10 ranking. The time period selection is a plus – but looking through the reviews shows that the last review was in June, before that it was March and then 75 reviews in February this year. This is unusual, perhaps ProBikeKit were recommending that customer post reviews on the feefoo.com service and then stopped.
Beyond standard search results for “probikekit” – looking specifically for review sites suggests that Sitejabber.com is the most popular. It however has a single (positive review). The sample size is too small and can be ignored.
The power of customer reviews
For small businesses, a negative review can be a disaster – for big business it is a game of numbers and a retailer can attempt to manipulate and influence…. or just do good business and value every customer.
Customers threaten business with bad review – usually after disappointment. In the US where suing people appears to be a way of life, companies have attempted to sue customers for negative review. Techdirt have an interesting example of this: Online Retailer Says If You Give It A Negative Review It Can Fine You $3,500.
Forums also are useful for judging the reputation of a retailer though take time to review the as the content is not standardised.
However customer reviews can be polarised, not necessarily presenting a balance, rather just the extremes. That said, in most cases the inpendent review can provide enough information to understand whether the retailer keeps customers such as yourself happy.
Be aware that when there are no reviews for a shop that it can mean that the retailer is very new, but it can mean they are very small and not doing much business or are ‘too new’ and more care should be taken to review their creditials. Here are some basic tips: When the price of that new bike too good to be true?