The shape of things to come? – Solid Bikes turn to direct sales
If you visit the Solid Bikes website all you’ll find is what’s in the screen-grab above. That one page is pretty significant in our eyes because it announces the first time that a well established bike brand has taken the leap from offering traditional bike shop sales and instead moved over to direct sales. Companies like Canyon and YT started out selling their bikes direct to customers, and in doing so substantially undercut the rest of the competition who were selling their bikes through bike shops, but we weren’t sure if any already established brands would ever switch business model in order to compete with Canyon and YT, simply because it’s a complex and somewhat brave move. Solid Bikes obviously feel it’s a move worth making though.
The way we buy things has definitely changed thanks to the internet, whether it be a pair of socks, a house, or a bike, and whilst some businesses have thrived as the result of change, others have definitely suffered. We keep getting it in the ear from some companies that we shouldn’t be promoting products that are sold direct at significantly cheaper prices, for the reason that they aren’t supporting the bike industry in the same way that traditional sales do. We understand that, but at the same time we stick by our belief that we should feature any good products, and if the price is great then even better. At the end of the day it’s you guys, the consumers, who are buying stuff, and if you want stuff cheaper it’s the cheaper stuff you’ll buy.
Obviously not everything is about price, and when it comes to bikes you want a quality product too. Perhaps this is where the more traditional companies thought they could win, presuming that the direct sales stuff wouldn’t be up to much, but as we’ve found out YT and Canyon can make great bikes regardless of price. If others join Solid Bikes in jumping ship then all it will do is offer even more choice at lower prices, making it increasingly hard for consumers to justify spending considerably more money on products purchased through a shop. Chain Reaction Cycles are now getting in on the game too with Vitus, and a brand that they are putting considerable effort and money into. These Vitus bikes will only be available through Chain Reaction, effectively making them a direct sale, and worryingly cheap for the competition.
Will ‘concept stores’, repair only shops and direct sales be the future? I don’t think anyone knows really knows, but I think one thing is for sure and that’s that the next couple of years could be very interesting indeed. As the direct sales side of the market grows (and I can’t see it doing anything other than grow), I think the traditional side of the market is going to have to look at it’s doing. Can it continue to compete, or is it a slowly sinking ship?
What do you lot think? Do you care if a product is sold direct or through a shop? Is price a big factor in your purchases? Or do you simply ‘fall’ for a particular product and then buy it regardless of cost or source?