All articles by Fred Clements
Internet competition, unfair supplier terms, high health care costs, and growing marketing expenses are the top challenges for independent businesses in several industries, according to a new survey released this month.
By many measures, Shimano is one of the bicycle industry's great companies, consistently bringing product innovation and excellence to a willing marketplace. But from the perspective of many independent bicycle dealers in the U.S., Shimano has become a huge problem, choking the life out of them by supporting distribution that leads to rampant Internet discounting from Europe.
Casual cyclists sometimes feel intimidated in bike shops because they don't understand the equipment, the complexity or even the people working there.
While independent bike dealers face many challenges today, there are also clear opportunities for those who pursue them.
The bicycle business may be awakening to the potential for bicycle events and tourism, as many in the industry push to not only sell more cool bike stuff, but to support more riding.
One of the most important metrics for bike shop success is store traffic. Living and breathing visitors are a necessary part of the retail business model for brick-and-mortar stores. Without them, retailers would be left trying to sell bikes to air, and that is very hard to do. Getting people into the store is becoming a greater challenge, though. New research shows that consumer traffic at bike shops is declining across the board. While this is distressing news at first glance, there are also clear opportunities to reverse the trend.
Cycling participation is a big topic in the bicycle trade. The idea that "a rising tide (of participation) lifts all boats" is a great theory and gives direction and hope for the future. But when the tide refuses to rise, the quest for individual company growth can lead to all sorts of tension.
Anti-technology pundits have been around for a long time, but there is increasing negative coverage related specifically to one company, Amazon.com, with strident criticism of its business practices, its ethics and its impact on society at large.
Allowing remote online retailers to skirt their obligation to collect sales taxes gives these companies a significant competitive advantage over brick-and-mortar businesses.
Bike shops are an integral part of the cycling infrastructure.