Thursday, March 29, 2012

What we can learn from Chainreactioncycles

Shopping online never got any easier
The super friendly and irrepressible Kian Lin... trying to poison me as usual
Most of us probably gone through something like this in our "cycling years".  First you buy a bicycle from your local bicycle shop. You might be lucky and unlucky to get bad service and good deal, maybe not. Then you are happy for a while, cycle around and start to change a part or another. It just happens.  You compare prices from a few shops and later on discover that if you shop online...it is cheaper!  Well, that's how it happened for me. Bicycle parts can be had for quite a substantial difference.  Some online shops even offer free shipping and additional gift voucher if you purchases over certain amount. With google and asking the right question, you can get lots of information in a jiffy. For example the history of Chainreactioncycles ... how they started and I must say it is an amazing story!  I have bought from Chainreactioncycles multiple times and I am quite impressed by the service. When there was part missing or damage, an email sent to them and it would be responded in 1-2 days.  Now I can see more Eshops like Evans, SJS, Wiggle and many more similar are sprouting up, which means more competition, choices of items.  Hopefully it would be lower prices and better customer service.  Oh, take note if you are buying online on Singapore $400 limit or you will be hit by the goods and services tax(GST). I learned it by accident.
Having commented on bicycle onlineshops, what does it mean to the traditional brick and mortar Bicycle shop? In a Singapore context, rising business cost means that the prices are higher compared to the online. Is that the end?  I  think there is still a edge which shops must leverage. The physical presence of allows the customer to touch, look, feel and test ride the bike. For parts, you get to see it and have the part instantly. So in a way, that's trading time for money. Most importantly, I think the "magical edge" over online shops is the level of customer service/ customer experience. To that note, my personal vote goes to Kian Lin of Mybikeshop for his infectious passion for his bicycles. He even loaned his personal bike to test out the performance and this personal approach has "poisoned" countless people... me included.  Another one who comes to my mind is Simon of lifecycle. His approach on bicycle shop as a meeting place for like minded folks helps him differentiate from the usual bicycle shop mode. What is clear to me is that they are elevating the customer experience for the local cycling industry. It becomes not just a transactional behaviour but forming a relationship with the customer.  I know the internet is transforming business. The traditional bicycleshop that is. What do you think are the elements that must be done, that would sway to customers to take an online approach or choose a bicycle shop?

3 comments:

  1. I ride a folding bike as well, but I've never really had to go online for parts. Besides, since I'm not going to do all the labour myself, I wouldn't want to go into a shop with a part I'd bought online and say please put this on for me. Supporting my local shop is important to me, and they make money from repairs...

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  2. Part of the pleasure of a recent trip to Singapore was the fun of "discovering" a number of bicycle shops and talking to the people who own them or work in them. Singapore has a terrific range of "Local Bike Shops" supporting cycling in all its varied manifestations. I too was poisoned - before I even knew what the word meant! Knowledge, experience, expertise and friendly advice is what I am buying when I walk into a LBS. I found it in abundance in Singapore.

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    1. Yes indeed. It it the personal touch which will help swing the "votes" to LBS and rather then buying from the internet. And as the relationship grows.. ur bicycle fleet grows too.. haha.. tell me why I know:)

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