The Bike Co-op Blog
May 10, 2017
Giving Retailers The Tools To Succeed...On Their Terms
Bike retailers are dealing with more challenges to their independence than ever before. As industry dynamics continue to evolve, stores are faced with mounting pressures and difficult decisions that they need to make for their business.
In many industries, entrepreneurs feeling the same pressures but determined to hold on to their independence are making the choice to join cooperatives. Why?
The Power of Cooperatives
The power of the cooperative model enables business owners to compete more effectively while giving them the autonomy to run their business their way.
As the only retail co-op in the U.S. bicycle industry, The Bike Cooperative leverages our economies of scale to help bike stores improve their profitability, but not at the expense of their independence. While more and more retailers are under pressure to support someone else's brand, we support the store's brand, and enable retailers to hold on to their independence, not take it away.
Our marketing and advertising solutions provide bike stores with the creative flexibility to promote their brand, and our product rebate program gives members complete freedom to decide which suppliers they want to purchase from, with no minimum requirements to start earning rebate.
Now more than ever, a retailer co-op can be an extremely positive force in the bicycle industry. Learn how you can be a part of it.
April 18, 2017
The Bike Cooperative Adds MC² Brands Bont, Astute & Race One To Supplier Network
We're happy to announce that MC² Sports Specialists has joined The Bike Co-op as our newest supplier partner. MC²’ is an importer and distributor of high-end brands including Bont shoes, Astute saddles, and Race One accessories. As a family-owned company with over 30 years of experience catering to cycling enthusiasts, MC² and its stable of marquee brands are a great fit for our independently-owned member retailers and their customers!
March 30, 2017
Are You Really Reaching The Majority Of Your Customers?
When the topic of marketing comes up with bike shops, sometimes we’ll hear comments like:
“We’re putting our marketing efforts towards social media.”
“We use email primarily because it’s cheap and effective.”
“Most of our business comes from word of mouth so we focus on getting reviews.”
Retailers that put all of their marketing ‘eggs’ in one basket run the risk of leaving significant dollars on the table. With stores dealing with lower traffic counts and high costs of new customer acquisition, the value of previous customers is greater than ever. Staying in contact with recent customers should be a priority, yet often they are ignored after they make a purchase. A major cause of this can be attributed to the retailers’ marketing mix (or lack thereof).
If you are relying on just one or two marketing channels there's a good chance you are not reaching a large segment of your customers. To maximize sales this season, be sure to avoid these common retailer misconceptions around marketing strategy:
1. I Don't Need To Market To Customers Who Just Bought From Me.
The rationale is that it’s a waste to market to a customer who just spent a lot of money at my store, because he or she won’t be buying from me again anytime soon.
The reality is that you are much more likely to get a response with your marketing efforts from this customer than a prospective customer. Did the customer buy all the gear and accessories they need to go with their bike? Maybe a family member needs a bike or new helmet too. Don’t assume that a customer who just dropped some serious coin won’t buy again in the near future. The key is timing and giving them reasons to come back.
Enrolling them in a rewards program and/or offering financing during their initial purchase (which gives the customer an open line of credit on a card with your store’s name on it) and then following up with a thank you email after the purchase are all effective tools to get this customer back sooner than you think. Plus, these customers can help your word-of-mouth efforts. Since they just bought from you they are much more likely to give you a positive review, so be sure to include an option for them to do so in your thank you email.
2. My Email List = My Customer List.
Email is an inexpensive and effective tool, but most stores have email addresses for only 20-50% of their customers. That’s a lot of customers not hearing from you if email is your only form of advertising. A good exercise is to download your customer list and sort by email address. This will put in perspective exactly how many customers you do not have email addresses for.
You certainly will want to make an effort to get their email, but that will take time. To maximize results now, take your top customers from the past 2 years with mailing addresses but no email addresses and mail at least a portion of them. While a postcard costs more than an email, it will be worth it to get your top customers who haven’t heard from you back into your store to make another purchase (which also gives you another opportunity to collect their email).
3. My Customers Are Just Like Me.
Many retailers make the mistake of “mirror” marketing – assuming their customers are similar to them and take in information the same way.
“I don’t like getting texts so we don’t use text messaging."
"I don’t really see the point in (enter social media platform here) so we focus our efforts elsewhere.”
Sound familiar? If so, you’re doing mirror marketing. Just because you don’t see value in something does not mean your customers feel the same way.
Some customers may prefer emails and Facebook, but others may prefer texting and Instagram. With a multichannel strategy you will reach more customers via the platform they prefer, making your efforts more effective.
4. Who Has The Time To Do All This? Not Me!
The problem for many shops is bandwidth. But with today’s technology, many tools like email follow-ups, rewards programs and social media content can be automated, saving you time to focus on other areas of your business. Where automation is not an option, your team can be a big asset, particularly with social media. They likely spend more time on social platforms than you do – take advantage of their knowledge while giving them the opportunity to do something new that they will enjoy.
February 22, 2017
Do You Know Your Net Promoter Score?
As a retailer, you know better than anyone that customers are not just sharing their shopping experiences with their neighbors and friends- they’re sharing them with everyone. Online review sites and social networks have given consumers powerful platforms to express their opinions, and these amplified voices are why "word-of-mouth" has become so influential. Customer satisfaction, or lack thereof, can make or break a business today. That’s one of the main reasons why Net Promoter
Score (also known as Net Advocate Score) has become the "go-to" metric for many retailers.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the measure of a simple question that you ask your customers- “how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or family member, on a scale of 0 to 10?” Customers who give a 9 or 10 are considered “promoters” or "advocates", while those who give a 6 or less are “detractors” (“passives” are customers
who submit a 7 or 8 rating.) The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. NPS is a valuable metric because it enables you to quantify your customers’ satisfaction. As the old saying goes, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. NPS gives you a single, quantifiable metric that you and your staff can focus on to improve the customer experience in your store. If your NPS increases, in all likelihood your customers’ satisfaction is improving along with it.
How Do I Get Customers To Give Me Their Feedback, And How Can I Track It?
First and foremost, you need to make the decision to ask your customers the NPS question consistently. This should occur within a short period of time after a customer’s purchase, when their experience is still fresh in their mind. Next, you need a mechanism to deliver the question to your customers and effectively record and tabulate their responses. It also needs to be easy from an operational standpoint – if it requires a lot of manual effort, it will likely fall off the radar, another well-intentioned initiative that becomes a casualty once the season is in full swing.
Easily Track Your Net Promoter Score With Ride Club
Retailers who are members of The Bike Cooperative are able to easily track their NPS through the Co-op’s Ride Club automated customer follow-up program. Ride Club sends triggered thank-you emails to customers on behalf of the store after their bike purchase. These customizable emails give retailers the option to include a survey
button that customers can click on and answer the NPS question. Respondents’ answers are then fed back into the retailer’s Ride Club’s dashboard, enabling stores to not only view their cumulative NPS, but also compare their score to the average score of other participating retailers. Stores are also able to download each customer’s individual responses and comments.
Now more than ever, understanding how your customers view you is critical to your long term success. Net Promoter Score gives you that insight in a tangible way. Use it to your advantage in 2017!
February 14, 2017
The Bike Cooperative Adds Halo Headband As Supplier Partner
We're excited to announce Halo Headband as our newest supplier partner. Halo Headband is the leader in headband technology, and since 2001 they have been building the best headband in the world. Their patented “Sweat Block Technology” keeps the sweat out of the wearer’s eyes by channeling the moisture back and away from the face. Halo's headbands are equally popular with the casual and professional athlete, making them a great partner for Co-op members!
January 24, 2017
Increase Sales With Consumer Financing
Whether they're buying electronics, home goods, furniture, you name it, customers are used to having financing offered to them when they shop at other retailers. So when these customers come to your store, they expect that you will also have financing options available, particularly if they are planning to make a large purchase. If a customer planning to buy a bike walks in expecting to be able to use financing and you don't offer it, at best you've disappointed them. At worst, you've lost the sale. Now is the time to make sure your staff is ready to comfortably offer consumer financing to ensure a successful 2017. Here's why:
1. You're Not Putting Your Customers In Debt By Offering Financing
In fact, you’re actually putting them in better financial position than if you accepted their credit card instead. With a credit card, the customer has just one month to pay off their balance before the higher rate on their outstanding balance kicks in. With financing, you’re giving your customer the opportunity to pay off that balance over an extended period of time such as 12 months, without penalty. Let’s be frank - if you’re choosing not to offer financing because it’s a moral issue for you, then you really should not be offering credit cards as a form of payment either.
2. Financing Incentivizes Customers To Return To YOUR Store
The next time a customer plans to make a purchase, they are far more likely to go to the store where they have a line of credit and whose card is in their wallet. When customers get approved for financing through The Bike Cooperative's Freedom To Ride program, they receive a card with your store's name on it. Retailers have been offering store cards for decades because they know it encourages loyalty.
December 14, 2016
New Year, New Suppliers
2016 is coming to a close, and for many in the bicycle industry the new year can't come soon enough. While it's been a challenging past twelve months to be sure, 2016 has been a very positive year for The Bike Cooperative, particularly for our member purchasing program.
A number of awesome brands have joined The Bike Co-op as new supplier partners, including Tifosi Optics, Serfas, Honey Stinger, Portland Design Works and Marin Bikes.
Supplier partners pay a rebate that gets distributed back to our IBD network and also helps fund programs that make member retailers more profitable.
In addition to helping retailers earn additional margin, these brands also recognize the value of the "I" in "IBD". Co-op members have complete freedom to decide which of our supplier partners they want to purchase from, and there are no minimum requirements to start earning rebate. With the majority of supplier partners, you do not need to change how you order to earn the rebates.
Product rebates are just one of many ways that we can help you enjoy a more profitable year ahead.
December 13, 2016
The Bike Cooperative Adds Honey Stinger As Supplier Partner
Honey Stinger makes some of the best tasting, most effective energy foods out there, so we are thrilled to welcome them to The Bike Co-op as our newest supplier partner. Adding an awesome brand like Honey Stinger is a big win for The Bike Co-op and for our members!
November 21, 2016
Portland Design Works Joins The Bike Cooperative Supplier Network
Urban cycling gear manufacturer Portland Design Works makes beautiful, simple gear for everyday cycling. PDW will be a supplier partner that our members can really get behind- with their recent announcement of a new Authorized Dealer Program to limit online third-party MAP violations, it’s clear that PDW is an IBD-centric brand.
We're excited to welcome PDW to The Bike Co-op as our newest supplier partner!
November 8, 2016
Tired of Team Discounts? Try Rewards Instead
If you're like most bike shops, you support and sponsor cycling teams and clubs in your area. These clubs can be tremendous brand ambassadors and advocates for your store, while also helping to promote cycling in your local community. However, this usually comes at a price for you as an owner or manager, in the form of steep discounts that you feel compelled to offer team and club members.
Institute Team & Club Rewards
Wouldn't it be better for you (and your margins) if club members earned rewards that could be used on a future visit, rather than receiving big discounts on each and every purchase? An automated rewards progam gives you an alternative to straight discounting while still incentivizing your team members (and your other customers) to make repeat visits and purchases. If you're thinking about implementing a rewards program and not sure where to start, The Bike Co-op's Ride Club platform gives you the ability to set up a rewards program that will track the rewards your customers have earned, and automatically let them know when it’s time to redeem. You can even set up options for multiple rewards levels (like standard and team levels) and short term rewards promotions, such as double points incentives.
October 10, 2016
Richardson Bike Mart Joins The Bike Cooperative
We're excited to announce Richardson Bike Mart as the newest member of The Bike Cooperative. Serving the Dallas cycling community since 1962, Richardson Bike Mart is one of the most respected independent bicycle retailers in the country. Welcome to the Co-op!
September 1, 2016
The Bike Cooperative Adds Boyd Cycling
Boyd Cycling is a Greenville, SC - based manufacturer of high-end carbon and alloy bicycle wheels. Boyd wheels are the perfect fit for Independent Bicycle Retailers - like a craft brewery, they are a smaller company driven by a passion to make the best possible product. There are no celebrity endorsements, no major advertising campaigns, just an internal drive to make something that they are proud to put their name on.
We believe Boyd’s focus on innovation, excellent customer service and hitting strong price points will bring additional value to Bike Co-op members’ businesses!
August 1, 2016
A Product Rebate Program That Helps Your Bottom Line - Not Someone Else's
As industry dynamics continue to evolve, bike retailers are dealing with more challenges to their independence than ever before. The Bike Cooperative supports the store's brand, and enables retailers to hold on to their independence, not take it away. Our product rebate program is a perfect example of that.
The Bike Co-op is partnered with a number of great brands that support the independent bicycle retailer. These Preferred Supplier Partners pay a rebate that gets distributed back to our network of over 300 Bike Co-op locations and also helps fund programs that make our members more profitable.
In addition to earning additional margin, the other key benefit of our product rebate program is that members have complete freedom to decide which of the Co-op's supplier partners they want to purchase from, and there are no minimum requirements to start earning rebate.
July 12, 2016
Borah Teamwear joins The Bike Cooperative
Borah Teamwear is a company located in Wisconsin that manufactures active outdoor apparel and custom team apparel, all 100% made in USA. Borah makes building beautiful custom kits simple, and the fact that they produce in the U.S. is something we are happy to support.
We are excited that Borah is The Bike Co-op's first apparel brand that produces its entire product line in the United States, and proud to be able to offer our members such a quality, custom apparel manufacturer!
July 5, 2016
Tifosi Is The Bike Cooperative's Newest Supplier Partner
Tifosi Optics is the number one selling eyewear brand in independent bicycle shops, with good reason. Not only do they make technologically advanced, value-oriented sports eyewear, they are also a profitable brand for IBDs to carry. In fact, Tifosi won the ‘Highest Brand Profitability to the LBS, Unit Turn' award at Interbike 2015, an award voted on by independent bike retailers. This is just one of many reasons why The Bike Co-op is so excited to announce Tifosi as our newest Preferred Supplier Partner. Effective immediately, members of The Bike Cooperative will earn rebates on their purchases of all Tifosi-branded eyewear, parts and accessories.
Co-op members not already working with Tifosi will love their fast turns, aggressive margins and high level of customer service!
June 8, 2016
Serfas Joins The Bike Cooperative's Growing Network of Supplier Partners
Serfas is a major player in the bicycle industry, dedicated to making high-quality bicycle part and accessory items at a tremendous value to consumers. For over two decades they have been a big supporter of the independent bicycle dealer, offering great margins and customer service to its retailers. The Bike Co-op is thrilled to announce that Serfas is the latest and greatest brand to join our growing network of supplier partners. Effective immediately, Bike Co-op members will earn rebates on their purchases of all Serfas-branded parts and accessories product.
Adding a very strong brand like Serfas as a new preferred supplier partner is a big win for our member retailers, and we are looking forward to helping grow the business of a brand that has a long history of supporting the IBD!
June 6, 2016
Consumer Financing 101
As the season kicks into high gear, we've been hearing from more and more independent bike retailers that customers are asking for financing when they come into their shops. Now is a perfect time to cover the key fundamentals of consumer financing, and uncover some of its myths:
Customers Use Financing At Other Retailers...And Expect You To Offer It Too
Customers are used to having financing offered to them when they shop at other stores, whether it’s by a sales associate, advertisement or signage. When customers come to your store, more and more of them are expecting that you will have financing options available, particularly if they are planning to make a large purchase. If a customer planning to buy a bike walks in expecting to be able to use financing and you don't offer it, at best you've disappointed them. At worst, you've lost the sale.
Financing Incentivizes Customers To Return To YOUR Store
Why? When customers get approved for financing through our Freedom To Ride program, they receive a card with your store's name on it. Retailers have been offering store cards for decades because they know it encourages loyalty. The next time a customer plans to make a purchase, they are far more likely to go to the store where they have a line of credit and whose card is in their wallet.
You're Not Putting Your Customers In Debt By Offering Financing
In fact, you’re actually putting them in better financial position than if you accepted their credit card instead. With a credit card, the customer has just one month to pay off their balance before the higher rate on their outstanding balance kicks in. With financing, you’re giving your customer the opportunity to pay off that balance over an extended period of time, without penalty.
Let’s be frank - if you’re choosing not to offer financing because it’s a moral issue for you, then you really should not be offering credit cards as a form of payment either.
Don't Assume A Customer Who Uses Financing Can't Afford What They're Buying
In many cases the opposite is true. Smart customers will use financing so that they can make their money work for them, by putting it in an interest-bearing account, an investment that earns dividends, etc.
For example, a customer who could easily afford a $5,000 bike may instead choose to use 12-month financing so that they can get their bike now while earning interest or dividends on that $5,000 over the course of the year. They will make the required payments each month, pay off the balance at the end of the 12 months, and now have extra income earned on that $5,000 by not having spent it in one lump sum.
The Bike Cooperative introduced consumer financing to the bicycle industry in 2003 with our exclusive Freedom to Ride program. Click here for more details.
May 10, 2016
What's New At The Bike Cooperative
Spring has sprung and The Bike Co-op team has been busy! Here's an update on the latest Co-op happenings:
New Enhancements To Our Automated Customer Follow-Up & Rewards Program
We revolutionized customer follow-up in the bicycle industry in 2008 with the introduction of Ride Club, a time-saving automated email and direct mail solution that enables you to:
- Automatically thank your best customers.
- Increase your service business with automated tune-up reminders
- Get valuable, measurable feedback on your sales and service departments.
- Protect market share and increase purchase frequency with Ride Club Rewards.
With Ride Club's dynamic new customization interface, you have more flexibility than ever before to promote your brand the way you want. You can swap out images, customize text and offers, and create your own customer satisfaction survey.
New Online Review Management Program
Another program we're excited about is our new Online Review Management program, which gives Co-op Members an exclusive platform to help them generate more online reviews on major review sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook, notify them when they receive reviews, and respond to reviews all from one place!
May 6, 2016
Marin Bikes joins The Bike Co-op
Marin Bikes California is a pioneering, innovative bike company built and run by passionate riders. Born out of the cycling paradise of Marin County and San Francisco, Marin offers a full line of quality bicycles with superior design and performance. That's why we're thrilled to announce Marin Bikes as The Bike Co-op's newest supplier partner!
Read more about our partnership with Marin here.
April 29, 2016
Our New Website is Live!
Our completely redesigned website TheBikeCooperative.com is now officially live! You'll find more information on how we help IBD's thrive and learn more about Bike Co-op Members and their success stories. Plus the site's mobile responsive design also makes navigation easier for retailers on the go. Check it out!
April 22, 2016
Member Video Profile - Farina's Bike Shop
Bike Cooperative Member Farina's Bike Shop, named one of America's Best Bike Shops in 2015, has been an institution in Watertown, Massachusetts for over 40 years. We recently visited with Farina's co-owner Paula Farina, who talks about her shop's history and explains how The Bike Cooperative has helped make Farina's a better bicycle retailer. Thanks Paula, here's to 40 more years!
April 13, 2016
Storck Bicycle Joins The Bike Cooperative As A Preferred Supplier Partner
We are pleased to announce that German bike manufacturer Storck Bicycle has become the newest preferred supplier partner of The Bike Cooperative. Bike Co-op Members will earn rebate on their purchases of Storck's high-performance bicycles, components, accessories and clothing.
The German brand has been producing technologically advanced bikes for over twenty years, but only recently entered the U.S. market, in late 2014. Storck director of business development Tony Tanner is looking expand the brand's footprint in the U.S. and said, "The Bike Co-op gives us a great opportunity to efficiently communicate the benefits of Storck to a large dealer network made up of quality retailers.”
The Bike Co-op is very excited to add Storck as a preferred supplier partner. In Europe, the Stork brand is synonymous with trend-setting, innovative engineering, receiving numerous design awards. Our members are going to be impressed not only with the quality of Storck bicycles, but their higher profit margins. With the additional rebate they will earn, Storck offers our members an excellent profit opportunity to go along with its compelling brand story. We look forward to helping Storck grow their business here in the U.S.
April 8, 2016
Welcome New Bike Cooperative Members!
The Bike Co-op has recently added more of the nation's top retailers, including:
- Agee's Bicycle Company (Richmond, VA - 3 locations)
- Bicycle Ranch (Tucson, AZ)
- Gannett Peak Sports (Lander, WY)
- Gregg's Cycle (Seattle, WA - 3 locations)
- Pedal Power (Middletown, CT - 3 locations)
- Revolutions Cyclery (Melbourne, FL)
- Summit Bicycles (Burlingame, CA - 4 locations)
- Tread Bike Shop (New York, NY)
We're excited to add these great shops to our growing list of members!
March 25, 2016
Why A Co-op Is Good For The Bike Industry (And Good For Your Brand)
Over 300 independent bike stores (and many of America's Best Bike Shops) are members of The Bike Cooperative, which combined amount to approximately $230 million in retail sales. Since 2003, The Bike Cooperative has provided bicycle retailers with marketing, operations and business savings programs that improve their profitability and their quality of life. Several years ago we re-launched as a full cooperative to add further value to the supply chain by generating additional sales for partner suppliers.
As industry dynamics evolve, brands are facing even greater challenges and pressures to their businesses just like retailers are. In this current landscape, the benefits that a cooperative can bring to suppliers are more valuable than ever before. Here's how we can help your brand:
Stop Getting Squeezed
If you’re finding it harder and harder to get your products on dealer shelves, being a preferred supplier of The Bike Cooperative gives you an audience of over 300 retail locations that are actively interested in supporting brands that support IBDs.
Get Exposure & Move Product More Efficiently
Whether it's closeouts, special offers, or new product intros, smart suppliers can take advantage of the concentrated business and group buying power of The Bike Co-op to better achieve their own goals in a competitive landscape.
And with The Bike Co-op’s weekly e-newsletter, member website, and dedicated Member Services reps, we have multiple methods to communicate your messages to this large audience of retailers on your behalf, saving you time and resources trying to call on these stores individually.
Reach Your Retailers' Customers
The Bike Cooperative's high-impact marketing tools not only drive traffic and sales for our members, they can also help brands reach more end-users directly and cost-effectively.
Programs like our Ride Club automated customer follow-up program, which sends out customizable, triggered emails to customers after their bike purchase, provide great opportunity for brands to sponsor and be featured in retailers' follow-up communications to the people you want to reach - your retailers' best customers!
For More Info On Being A Bike Co-op Preferred Supplier:
Bill Heins - Supplier Relations Manager / email@example.com
February 12, 2016
Traffic Down? Increase Your Average Ticket With Consumer Financing
Unless you happen to be in a warm weather locale, this is the time of year where many shops start see a significant drop-off in store traffic. The key to making it through the dog days of winter is to maximize the sales of the customers who are walking through your door. One of the most effective ways to do this is by utilizing consumer financing to increase your customers' average sale.
Give Your Customers The Freedom To Ride - And Get Results
Consumer financing enables customers to purchase a higher quality bike and the accessories they need, and pay off these purchases over time. This translates into higher average tickets for you - studies show average tickets increase 57% from consumer financing versus other payment options and cardholders are 75% more likely to keep shopping at your
store than non-cardholders.
The Bike Cooperative's Freedom to Ride™ program gives retailers the ability to offer their customers financing options at the lowest possible rates to the retailer, with higher customer approval rates, and an exclusive private label Freedom to Ride card that customers use repeatedly at your store, boosting customer loyalty.
Most importantly, consumer financing gets results - over the past twelve months members' average 12-month financing sale is over $1,300, and has proven to be an effective tool to drive sales for top bicycle retailers.
January 5, 2016
Infinit Nutrition Joins The Bike Cooperative As New Supplier Partner
Infinit Nutrition is a relative newcomer to the nutrition category, but they have been revolutionizing how endurance athletes have thought about nutrition with the only all-in-one isotonic on the market. The Bike Co-op is super excited to partner with a innovative company like Infinit that will make selling nutrition quick and easy for our member retailers. Plus, Infinit is quickly earning a reputation for fueling many of the world's best athletes in events like the Olympics, Tour de France and Indy 500. Welcome to the Co-op Infinit!