Just like your traditional local bike shop, growing a loyal customer following is an important part of business. I would argue that there is less customer loyalty with online shops compared with local bike shops. Being predominently price orientated and without that same recommendations, support, follow-up and maintenance, an online shop has a more limited role and more limited scope to build a following.
Despite less loyalty, when the price and time is right, it is significantly cheaper for online shops to sell to an existing customer rather than acquiring a new one.
Wiggle have been promoting their Gold customer loyalty plan and telling me that I have until the end of this month to spend $150 to remain in their program. So I should spend $150 for the sake of it?
Lets move along to online retailer social communication – specifically blogs and whether you can trust them.
So why wouldn’t you trust them – well of course because the online retailers want to sell and for this reason if they are publishing a review, they would hardly want to dissuade customers from buying. And that is where credibility walks out the door, as they are not independent media, how can they be impartial? (Another story is how independent magazines and website tend to publish reviews at exactly the same time that the same brand has advertising).
Searching the Wiggle blog for keyword “poor” and “bad” shows no results with articles or product reviews with these terms in the context of the products quality or attributes.
Chain Reaction Cycles have the CRC Hub with articles and videos, very much focussed on their products and events and news related to inventory. They have created a more comprehensive community integrating video, blogs and social sharing tools, facebook, twitter and google+. Their useless search likewise delivers no results which suggest any criticism of any of the featured products.
We have previous discussed customer reviews and the tendency for bad reviews to disappear, or never to appear. Amazon have a different approach. By virtue of their size they happily allow negative customer reviews as they know that the customer will continue looking on their online shop for alternative products rather than leave.
In the cycling world, the product pool is smaller and even the big retailers can’t afford to annoy their suppliers and brands too much. But as a customer, yes, you can read a retailers reviews and also customer reviews and perhaps even get useful information. But be aware that there is a vested interest so time spend researching independently is worthwhile.