Wiggle Chain Reaction Merger Romance

Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles Romance put to the Test

The merger of the two biggest online bike shops, Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycle is now being put to the test by being referred to the Competition and markets Authority (CMA) in the UK. Reported on BikeBiz, they have noted that the CMA are surveying bike and Parts and Accessories suppliers who need to respond this week. 

Online retail can be a double-edge sword for bike brands. On the one side, online shopping in booming and it provides an opportunity to sell a lot of stock to this growing market. On the other, online shops compete with the traditional bricks and mortar bike shops and the distributers who are also vital for marketing the brand and customer service.

Suppliers can be pressured into discounting their stock for online retailers – it means lower prices for customers online while distributers and bike shops who have traditionally supported the brand pay more for the stock and have increasing online competition.

The Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles entity has not released details about changes and whether both brands will continue to operate independently. For customers, it is likely that the brands will remain separate and behind the scenes, management, supply-chain and logistics can be optimise.

 

Wiggle Chain Reaction Cycles Sponsorship

How Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles change Bike Sponsorship

Whether you run an event, an advocacy group or are a publisher, the chances are that it has taken years to establish, and was have grown out of love, passion and enthusiasm also needs solid financial supporters to make ends meet. 

Have a look at the number of big events, or advocacy groups or publishers which have truly been able to retain “bike only” sponsors alone, even bike brand sponsored pro-cycling teams have a limited lifespan and tend to turn to the lucrative ‘non bike’ businesses who want to capture the hearts and minds of cyclists; Red Bull, Skoda, IAM, Sky, Saxo, Orica.

In big business there are big brands, but the more local, the harder it is, and the less likely that you can rely on Giant, Trek, Specialized, BMC or Shimano. These are big brands in cycling, but bike brands are tiny on a global scale and their marketing “vision” much shorter.

International online retailers are a new opportunity, they run big sales numbers and any event or organisation or outlet is a conduit directly towards their customers. They are still careful with their investments, but the larger your audience, the bigger the potential.

However the competition between the bricks and mortar retailers and the online retailers creates the perfect ALL OR NOTHING scenario…

Where support from locally based brands wanes, getting Wiggle or Chain Reaction Cycles onboard as a key sponsor or financial support can help you reach new heights… and it is ‘bike’ and it is compatible with the ‘non-bike’ sponsors.

However getting Wiggle or Chain Reaction Cycles onboard can also sever all ties with local brands and also leave you open for criticism for not being a patriot, for not supporting local jobs and business.

While sponsorship from local brands may have been tough to acquire (or non-existent), once you turn to the Dark Side, you may never again have a chance with the local industry again.

So the question is, what do you stand to lose and will this make a difference?

Will it really affect the ability of your event, your organisation or your ‘channel’ to grow… will you be able to retain enough of your participants, members, readers or following… and grow these numbers.

Whatever the decision, don’t forget that the world and the marketplace is changing so consider the future of retail use this to help make a decision today on your sponsorship and support allegiance.

 

photo © KevPBur

Wiggle Warehouse Clearance Sale

Wiggle is moving – Get Ready for Warehouse Sales

In perspective, on a global scale of industry the cycling industry is very small. But the biggest retailer in this very small market needs a lot of space. Wiggle are moving from an 85,000 foot warehouse (with 2 million items) in Portsmouth to a 323,000 foot facility near Wolverhampton in the Midlands, a three hour drive from London.

The move was announced last year, and now the warehouse sales are starting with their latest campaign promoting up to 50% off.

You know the online sales where a product retails for 30% less than the stated RRP, then during sale time there is a 30% discount… off the RRP, so you are paying the same price. It is hard to spot the real sales, sure there are some run-out products but the run of the mill accessories don’t drop dramatically in price.

Well this should be different. Wiggle are moving and any business would prefer to sell their stock and get new stock delivered to the new location rather than ship the lot.

 

Genuine Savings Predicted at Wiggle

For the warehouse clearance, I expect to see a more great value sales and significant savings. But it could also be a mixed bag with plenty of hard to sell gear that they simply want to sell going for dumping prices.

And a question on small verses big items. Big items are more costly to ship, while small items are fiddly, so will Wiggle try to clear out more of the big and bulky gear, or free up space with the smaller bike accessories and gear.

There are over 5,000 products listed, but do expect some running, swimming and triathlon gear as well as cycling gear.

 

How do you spot the genuine sale items? 

That is the hardest question of all as it is likely that some items which fail to clear will get further price drops. The best approach is to keep your eyes open. One tip is to use the Smart Cyclist price comparison if you know what you want, type in the items and quickly check the current price. Alternatively, visit Wiggle, to pick up a bargin where you need a bit creativity and luck.

But the best tip of all if you are anywhere near Portsmouth, keep your eyes and ears peeled for warehouse direct sales. It won’t help online shoppers but experienced suggests that for any leftover stock that they simply have to clear, there will be a lot of happy locals.

 

 

 

Mario Cipollini

Culturally incompatible – Cycling gear that doesn’t sell

A blog came up on my radar, Jonathon Nunan is a consultant in the bike industy and publishes insider news on his brand new Better Bike Business blog. A February post caught my eye:

Selling cycle clothing in Australia? No hotpants or white Lycra for starters.

It covers a list of do’s and do nots for selling cycle wear in Australia, a good list and explanations such as including UV rated wear, Australian cyclists love full length zipper and women like 3/4 knicks. Surprising is that cycle wear needs to be offered in size 6XL, 8XL and 10XL plus… wow.

That’s a nice example of some of the cycle wear that does and does not sell in Australia, what about the rest of the world?

 

What are the Rules for Cycling Wear?

Do you remember the The Official Euro Cyclist Code of Conduct (by Dom Guiver and Mike Flavell)? It is a goldmine of goodness, here are some excerpts:

Rule 1. Image and style shall be the primary concerns of the Euro Cyclist. When suffering, one must focus first on maintaining a cool, even composure and second on performance. Winning races is an added talent, and only counts if said Euro Cyclist wins with appropriate style.

 

Rule 5. A prominent line where one’s kit ends and where one’s deep tan begins is essential to one’s image. Artificial tanning is BANNED. The tan shall reflect the level of training commitment.

 

Rule 6. The socks of the Euro Cyclist shall extend to within two (2) cm. of the main bulge of the calf muscle, and shall never extend further than one (1) cm. past said primary calf muscle bulge. All socks SHALL BE WHITE in colour with prominent logo placement.

 

Rule 12. Ridiculously stylish eyewear (see endorsed products list) is to be worn AT ALL TIMES without exception. Glasses are to be worn over helmet straps at all times.

There are 63 rules in total, and if you are serious about cycling, you really need to learn them by heart. The most current version is on the OREC (Official Rules of the Euro Cyclist) facebook page.

 

Cycling Brand Matters

Getting a bit more serious, it goes without saying that there are differences between continents and nations with regard to well known and lesser known brands. Popularity can depend on the brand origins, the marketing of the brand among other factors.

Seasons play a role, how cold is winter, how hot is summer. Is professional cycling (road, track, MTB, BMX) popular and what about access to these different styles of cycling.

Consider mountain biking, in one country or region it is considered a fringe sport, a sub culture. In other countries it is an active sport more open to a broader age range and sports cycle wear, even lycra is commonplace.

And even the media and television coverage of cycling events will play a role. If cycling fans see the professionals in the latest gear, the lastest gear is likely to be a big seller – and this includes styles such as long cycling socks.

 

Making or breaking it

While writing, I have been thinking hard, what cycling equipment or cycle wear is truely specific to one country. For every I can think of, I can’t say that it is really specific, such as Americans only wearing white cycling shoes or the British only wearing black helmets. I can say that in Europe, commuter cyclists are more fashionable, particularly where bike riding is a convenient or prefered transport mode. When cycling is less integrated into society, there is a natural focus on safety, so fluro and high visibility wear becomes more important.

So this is a great topic, and for the cycling industry, something most brands should know – so what unique trends have you spotted in cycling, unique to one country or region?

Title Photo: © David Hunter

Copy Right Content

Wiggle ignore copyright, use Chain Reaction Cycles image

Carlton Reid of Bike Biz UK reports that Wiggle have been caught out using a Chain Reaction Cycles image in Wiggle social media.

Chain Reaction Cycles ran a blog post, a laborious blog post about wrapping a full suspension mountain bike in wrapping paper for Christmas. CRC achieved their aims with over 1000 shares through Facebook and other social media platforms such as Google+ and Twitter. In this respect, sharing-it-around is intended, spread the word and draw attention back to the online retailer.

Viral marketing Copyright

But you don’t expect your competitors to integrate your marketing into theirs, a Twitterer’ Brent @shedfire picked up the ‘theft’.

Wiggle CRC Stole Twitter

 

Copyright, in most countries clearly protects the creater of the original work and traditionally the work can’t be taken and reproduced. However there is an element of artistic freedom to adapt original work – in some countries a variation / manipulation of over 10% allows copyrighted work to be adapted however depends on the situation as a samples from a song, such as a drum beat, can’t easily be extracted and re-used. But Vanilla Ice didn’t know that when he ripped off Queen’s Under pressure.

And social media changes everything, on facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest and imgur copyright theft is rampant. However once content reaches the public domain then it is hard to keep it protected – especially if it appeals to others. And hence meme’s and even Viral marketing detaches the content from copyright and explodes into the sharing space for #Lol’s and #Rofl’s

But they are the users

And Wiggle is not, so they have a responsibility to check the content they use, and use it with permission. This goes for any business, using content belonging to another individual, business or entity without permission is risky and plain unprofessional. It call’s for clear marketing and communication strategies that staff responsible for outside communication understand the policies and protocol for publishing information.

The Wiggle response was fairly casual,

“Yeah sorry, we were sent it a while back from someone, cannot find the source. & had it in a folder.”

In the grand scheme, CRC benefit by making Wiggle look incompetent and earn bonus points in the eyes of their customers. Wiggle should have had a better response:

1. Praise CRC for their creativity,
2. Make a formal apology (due to an internal error which won’t happen again) and,
3. Use it as a marketing opportunity for example, their own wrapped bike or a social media gift to CRC or highlighting their benefits.

 

CRC are not worried, or should not be (as they come out on top) however can consider watermarking. It would limit the number of competitors who use their images but also add a small promotional effect when the image is shared. It may however lead to some rejection and fewer shares when consumers ‘reject commerce’ and want to own content without commercial influence.

The Critic – Wiggle Bike Bungee

In November, Wiggle realise an inhouse video – bungee jumping with bikes. Sounds exactly like a video worth ignoring which I did. While a brand is still able to create and market a compelling concept it needs credibility or a real wow factor to make it worthwhile.

If it is really good, then everyone is posting or tweeting and this wasn’t the case so the youtube video reached up 30,000 views which is fair, but doesn’t compare to the viral videos. Lets add a few more views, here is the video – you can watch before the inner critic is released.

What is so bad about Bike Bungee

What is good about it. People have by sky diving with bikes, diving with bikes and doing bungee with bikes. Doesn’t really make sense and is fun to watch the first time.

But stop the press, this time it is different because…

At Wiggle, we’re committed to bringing you the good stuff, so we sent four of our adrenaline-loving Wigglers, each with a different type of bike to the French Alps for the ultimate test…… which bike can jump the furthest?!

It sounds more like…

We are all serious and committed… but cool enough to flip over mid sentence to show you how we roll. Our awesome team of adrenalin junkies has the ultimate test and will combine pseudo science with a complete lack of consistency to bring you a video which we want to go viral. ?? !! ?! ?!

Reality aside, sometimes when you try to hard to be funny, it doesn’t come across. It may even be misunderstood, one person commenting on the video said:

Yikes. I had sweaty palms just watching!
Mark MacDonald

No one wants to know that Mark.

 

The most important rule of Viral Marketing

All would have been lost, were it not for the most important rule of viral market. What is it you ask? Well, the most important rule of viral market is to make sure that your campaign is very clearly branded, best with four logos. In this case, Wiggle get full marks and a bonus point for mentioning Wiggle again in text.

 

Wiggle Four Logos

SHimano Chain Reaction Cycles

Is Chain Reaction Cycles REALLY the best place to buy Shimano?

Behind closed doors, Shimano love online retailers. The online bike shops move a lot of product, and Shimano dominates groupsets so when you need replacements for Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra or Dura Ace, or on the MTB Deore, Deore SLX, Deore XT, Zee, Saint, XTR or Di2 versions, particularly older versions, the internet can be a good friend… and cheaper too.

NEWS JUST IN – Chain Reaction Cyclies is the best place to buy Shimano. I was not aware of that, but according to CRC there are seven great reasons why. What are they you say?

 

1. Best prices on Shimano Worldwide

Lets trial this, it will be hit and miss but a fair starting point.

Round 1: I want a complete Shimano Dura Ace Di2 groupset.. and want the lowest price. Lets start with (based on turnover) the worlds biggest bike shop, Wiggle. They have a sale and the groupset will set you back £1,999.99. Not bad. Merlin Cycles also want £1999.99

Shimano Dura Ace Di2 Groupset Wiggle

Evans Cycles – fail, no results found. OK, Ribble.co.uk… whoops (that domain is availble to purchase). I remember, it is Ribblecycles.co.uk. It looks like something out of the 80’s and hard to find the search box. Two pages of search results but no groupset.

And now to CRC, low and behold £1799.99.  On the RRP alone, Wiggle have a pre-sale price of about £2999.99 while CRC have £2499. Although Wiggle also have a price match strategy. But for this round CRC wins!

Shimano Dura Ace Di2 Groupset CRC

Round 2: That was probably an easy test – lets go for something obscure, I will let wiggle set the tone and have located the Shimano XTR BR-M985 Metal Pad With Cooling Fin. This is a metal brake pad (rather than resin. Wiggle list £18.49. Ribble and Evans are not coming to the party, not listing these.

Wiggle XTR Brake Pads

 

Now it is time for CRC and their metal brake pad version is exactly £18.49. DRAW!

CRC XTR Brake Pads

Round 3:  to be fair, CRC can choose an obscure Shimano item. We are still in the MTB world and CRC have a Shimano XTR M970 Outer Chainring for £79.99

CRC XTR Chainring

Evans wants to join in, but only with a bundle for £112.99 – and CRC don’t do anything similar. Ribble don’t want to be involved with no search results to match.

Evans Cycles XTR Bundle

And even Wiggle decides not to take part – a few different variations reveal no real match.

Wiggle No Search Results

Lets give CRC the benefit of the doubt on this. But what else makes them the best place to but Shimano?

 

2. Biggest Range across all disciplines

Lets not argue this one, even in the price test, CRC have been fairly consistent, Wiggle fairly good and the others trailing behind.

 

3. First to market with the latest products

A big claim – this means that before the local bike shops, before the dealers and before everyone else who has supported Shimano in their sales across the globe, Shimano are now trusting Chain Reaction Cycles as the first retail outlet to stock their new gear.

The dealers and distributers must be happy about that.

 

4. The best value on groupsets in all discplines

We will take your word that you have done your homework, and that Shimano have set CRC at the preferred retailer.

 

5. Unsure of need some help, our first class customer support and tech support team are always on hand

Most customers know what they want, I need a 6700 Ultregra 10 speed cassette, 11-28. Done.

But CRC have a big support team and if instant gratification is not crucial then they are in the business of selling and will assist the sale. The alternative is internet research, because the internet knows everything (you just have to find it). Or go to your local bike store where they have to know because they are fitting the part, and it is their responsibility if it doesn’t fit.

At this point, it is worth noting the extra tools you have to buy to DIY. I highly recommend doing it yourself, but is is an extra step and some people prefer the comfort of a skilled bike mechanic to do it for them.

 

6. Buy with confidence – 2 years warrant and 3 years on Dura Ace and XTR

When was the last time I had a warrant issue with my groupset. They are very well made. In the case of the SRAM Road cycling hydraulic disc brake failures, SRAM did the right thing and looked after their customers. Shimano would do the same. Though it isn’t noted who pays return shipping. Realistically, the chances are that when anything brakes in a new groupset then it is from an accident or rider error.

 

7. Peace of mind – return any item within 365 days (free returns UK)

Unless you use it of course. I would be surprised to learn that you could use and wear out a chain and return it within a year – no questions asked. Generally this claus comes with a disclaimer that the product can’t be used, has to be in the original box and in a resalable condition. It can happen, if you stock up on chains, however this is not as good as it is made out to be. And if you are outside of the UK, of course you pay shipping.

 

How it all stacks up

CRC have a good deal with Shimano and will genuinely offer competitive prices, for some gear it will have the same cost while for others such as the groupset there can be good savings. CRC have to make a big noise about this but for a customer it is a much simpler message – it is worth keeping an eye on CRC when buying Shimano gear online.

 

 

Local Bike Shop Online Store

Can a local bike shop make it big online?

This is a loaded question, most of the worlds biggest online retailers started out as local bike store who did the right thing at the right time in the right place. Local bike shops have made it big and many others are trying.

The real question is, “why do some bike shops make it and others fail?” If the successful online shops did the right thing and the right time in the right place, what are the wrong things?

 

Lack of Genuine Committment

There is a different between trying to be successful online, and actually committing to online retail. The common scenario is that the local bike shop decides it wants to go online – pays a web design company $10,000 to create a shop and struggles to get sales. When they do get sales, fulfilling orders is messy and in no time the online inventory is out of date, along with the software and it discarded as an expensive failure…. because ‘the internet doesn’t work’.

The web design agency play a role in the demise for failing to educate the bike shop and showing them the big picture. And the cost conscious bike shop all too easily ignores or overlooks key parts of online retailing. As noted in an earlier article, If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

Part of genuine committment is a vision to look beyond the word of the one-dimensional web design company and take the initiative to understand the building blocks. Also to question information, to analyze, to research and make smarter decisions.

The building blocks for successful online retail

A brief and incomplete list of some of the key building blocks:

Marketing: whether big or small, you have to invest in marketing. You have to spend money and the smart retailers also discover the best channels and keep trying new approaches.

Fulfillment: A massive topic, and for the sake of simplicity includes logistics. This is ensuring that the inventory is current, that delivery projections are up-to-date through to processing the order, packing, dispatching, delivery and tracking. All along keeping the customer informed and happy.

Customer Service: As with traditional retailers, customer service can make or break you. Of course the customer service requirements for online sale is different, but customers want immediate satisfaction and immediate answers. Word of mouth is just as important for online retailers and negative customer experiences are amplified even further in the internet.

Technology: From responsive websites to cater to smart phone and tablets to effective order process as well as clever technical integration and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). You need an expert at your side who knows technology.

Price: The internet makes it inherently easier to compare prices, as long as the retailer is trusted the the lowest price wins. Why pay more for the same product (an online retailer can hardly sell their ‘customer service’)?

 

The Visionary

Any bike shop can set-up online, but a visionary does more. They understand the potential of online to their business, they understand the change or adaption required. They invest and continue to drive, often employing specialists which push their online retail abilities beyond others.

It means that online retail is not for all, traditional businesses certainly shouldn’t ignore online retail (they need to adapt to remain competitive) but if a retailer isn’t truely dedicated to opening up online retail, they are often better off investing in their core business.

But their are plenty of sales out there, and just because one retailer is popular, it doesn’t mean they can maintain. Management and profit orientated decisions can taint a retailer leaving gaps for young online retailers who can do it better.

 

photo: © ubray

Look out for End-Of-Season specials on Bikes and Gear

Many of the big brands have already announced their 2015 bikes or cycling gear and products. You will even find some bike shops stocking next years gear. The fact is, new is sexy and for some strange reason, next seasons gear or next years gear always looks better.

The other fact is, most of us are not performance cyclists and the one percent saving will make zero percent difference (just don’t tell the marketing departments). The real effect is that often last season’s bike or gear may be substantially reduced and you could save hundreds of Dollars, Pounds or Euros for a bike which is almost the same as next years model.

Some brands are trying to buck the trend by removing the ‘year’ and ignoring seasons as a bike model generally has a life span exceeding one year. Often after a few seasons (and a few paint jobs and accessory changes later), a top model bike may be relegated and replaced, but still remains in the program as it was a good bike.

Bike shops need to clear their floor stock and/or warehouse stock for the new gear so you need to keep your eye open from between October and February, more specific time-frames will depend upon your country’s sale trends as well as the individual brands time frames for supply. Don’t be afraid to ask “when do you expect the new bikes in?”

Online retailers however may have different cycles when it comes to new season gear. Local bike shops are often first inline and online retailers are second-in-line as they are the ‘clearing houses’. This means that online retailers may get new season stock much later however once again, it depends upon the brands and their relationship with the retailer.

The bottom line

If you chose last year’s bike or gear, the chances are that the savings you make over the new year and new season equipment are far great than the difference in performance benefit. Of course there may be differences and the new gear is new – so if you want New and can afford New, go for it.

Field of Dreams Movie Poster

If you build it, they will come.

Derived from the classic move Field of Dreams (1989) with Kevin Costner. “If you build it, he will come.” has spawned an entire legion of believers that simply creating something is enough to guarantee success.

A great movie, but in the real life of business and specifically online shops, if you build it they won’t come. Not without promotion and marketing.

There are a lot of online shops out there, many unsuccessful. But some do a fair trade and limit their real potential when they fail to stay current (technology, design, marketing, inventory) while others have achieved the critical mass and in addition to continued marketing, can rely on a solid customer based.

Marketing and promotion can take many forums, and there is no single perfect way to market – some retailers location a single high achieving channel while others have grown organically and saturate.

If you build it, that’s a good start. But if you market it, you increase the chances that they will come.

Here are some ideas: How bike shops win customers in the modern age