In a first for a big bicycle brand, Trek is moving its sales online. And it's claimed to be a move that won't just benefit consumers, but your local bicycle shop, too.
Called Trek Connect, the program will allow customers to research and compare prices online, then order the bike, which will be delivered to their local bike shop. That shop will receive a service commission for assembling the bicycle.
The program should increase the variety of Trek models available to consumers, while saving bike shops the need to buy a season's worth of bicycles ahead of time, then store them. Where previously it made little sense for speciality models like downhill mountain bikes to be stocked at stores a long way from the mountains, now stores are freed from the need to predict sales and consumers benefit from easy access to Trek's full model range.
Trek Connect coincides with an announcement that the brand will be re-investing in technical training for service departments. A 5,000 square foot, dedicated training facility is being constructed at Trek's Wisconsin factory. Classes will begin in January and should train around 1,000 techs per year.
"I've seen stores that sold a lot of products go out of business," explained Trek president John Burke. "I've never seen a store that did a lot of service go out of business." Currently, service accounts for only seven per cent of revenue at bicycle shops, but makes up 25 per cent of total profit.
The service commission for assembly will be equal to a dealer's normal sales margin, minus the shipping costs. Dealers will also save on inventory costs. The new site, launching next month, will also help consumers find local shops that already have their desired bike in-stock, should that person be in a rush to buy.
The significance of this shift to online sales should not be underestimated. Trek accounts for 30 per cent of all bicycle sales in the US. So, getting in front of consumer demand not only makes sense for them, it's made possible by their large volumes.
As bike buyers, you and I can expect to benefit from a wider range of available models, a lower pressure sales environment, more detailed online research and fit tools and the newfound ability to buy a bike in our underwear. The investment in technical training is also good news and means we should get better service at our local shops.
With Trek diving in — and coming up with what sounds like a sustainable sales model that also benefits retailers — it's only a matter of time until all bicycles are available online.