In recent years, the bike industry and bike retailers have learned how to survive in a constantly changing economic environment. Knowing will not get any easier in the future, we have analyzed our customer’s behavior and identified three key trends to help retailers and brands better position themselves for the future:
- The Importance of Omnichannel Experiences
By linking online and offline touchpoints, retailers can create a consistent presence and strengthen customer relationships.
- The Role of ROPO Strategies
ROPO strategies (Research Online, Purchase Offline) acknowledge the value of online research that ultimately leads to offline purchases.
- The Benefits for Retailers
Through omnichannel experiences and ROPO strategies, retailers can build long-term customer relationships and encourage repeat purchases.
Bike Shopping behavior is shifting seamlessly between on- and offline
Today, consumers move between digital, physical, and social platforms, along with visits to local stores; the boundaries are blurred.
This behavior will become even more pronounced in the future. Online research and expert advice play a decisive role, especially when buying bicycles and other leisure products. This effect is known as the “ROPO effect”. ROPO means “Research Online, Purchase Offline” – and is a topic we’ve delved into last year in the Digital Hub. > Click here for the article
The sources where consumers discover new products and services are also constantly expanding as they browse social media channels, stream videos and play online games. In the future, retail will become less about which channel customers use, but about creating a smooth transition between the places where advice, discovery, selection, and consumption take place.
Retailers should think carefully about how they want to present themselves
Precisely because the boundaries between online and offline continue to blur. In addition to their own website and online store, online marketplaces and platforms are becoming increasingly important. Functions such as Reserve & Collect in particular strengthen customer loyalty and offer shoppers the opportunity to obtain information online, then receive additional advice in store when making a purchase.
Advice from trained staff and bike experts in particular builds customer trust, which plays a decisive role in the success of a local retailer in an oversupplied and highly competitive environment. This approach creates a perfect platform to place additional sales (such as accessories and clothing) and to score points with professional services such as bike fitting or repairs.
Partnerships are becoming increasingly important
Bicycle customers are increasingly making their purchasing decisions based on whether companies and products match their personal values and needs. Conversely, this means that the connection to a specific brand is fading into the background. 73 percent of buyers expect brands to respond to their individual needs and expectations.
In order to further increase customer loyalty, brands and retailers can turn to specialized online marketplaces and other digital services. Marketplaces allow for the entire product range to be made available at low cost. They work for nearly every sector and are constantly being expanded with new functions and services. A good example is the use of chatbots in decision-making and real-time advice. Efficient pre-qualification takes place through the use of AI and intelligent language models, and important questions relating to payment processing and delivery terms can be clarified before the actual online purchase. This not only saves retailers and marketplace operators time, but also saves resources that are urgently needed for customer service advice or directly on site.
The OC&C report “Trading Places” forecasts growth of 15% for the leading online marketplaces over the next few years. By 2025, spending on marketplaces is even expected to exceed sales in traditional e-commerce in the retail and leisure categories.
In a highly competitive market such as the bicycle industry, it is therefore all the more important for retailers to find the right partner. Personalization, innovation, and service can set you apart from the competition and offer customers a better shopping experience.
Sustainability continues to gain in importance
Sustainability in omnichannel sales is not just a trend, it will be a necessity in 2024. Consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental and social impact of their purchases and increasingly want to buy products and services that align with their values. Brands are also expected to be more transparent: shoppers want to know where their products come from, how they are made, and what impact they have on society and the immediate environment.
Modern online marketplaces have now started to use this trend to their advantage. Bicycle leasing and the sale of used bicycles in particular play a decisive role here.
The trends described above are already having a significant impact on the retail industry and will continue to do so in 2024 and beyond. Bicycle retailers who pick up on these trends and understand how to integrate them into their business model will be one step ahead of the competition in the future. They should be able to successfully address these needs of conscious consumers.
As the leading online marketplace for bicycles and digital services for over 10 years, the BikeExchange platform was developed specifically for bike stores to increase online visibility and drive new customers and sales to participating stores. We believe that customer service and personal relationships are key factors for sustainable growth in such a competitive industry.
As a BikeExchange partner store, you will be supported by your personal account manager, an experienced digital expert in the bike industry, who will set your store up for success. You will receive immediate support for all your questions and concerns, professional help with creating your store profile and getting your product online, and ongoing advice to boost your store’s performance on the marketplace.
There is a lot to do in the new cycling year. It’s best if we tackle it together, and with BikeExchange you will find a reliable partner to take your bike business to the next level.