|Soon to be available on-line|
This has caused quite a tizzy amongst the cycling nerdom out there. First off, it must be said that this isn't what it appears at first glance. Trek isn't going all "Bikes Direct" on you. No, you still have to have a dealer involved in the process, but make no mistake. This is a monumental shift in the landscape of bicycle business in the USA.
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....
So, what does this look like for consumers then? Basically, not a whole lot different in terms of pricing. In fact, it may not be as good as haggling with a dealer. You will pay the set price, pick which dealer in your area that will have to assemble it, and depending upon whether said dealer has opted in with Trek on the program fully or not, you may get it delivered to your door, or you may have to go pick it up at the shop. Basically, it is "special order" 24-7. Of course, this raises another set of questions......
The "Whys": You know, like "Why would anyone buy a bike this way? No test ride, no fitting, no real pricing advantages.
- No test ride- No big deal. This goes for fitting as well. Think about it for a minute- How do companies like Bikes Direct and Canyon Bikes stay in business if this test ride and fitting thing kills online sales? Obviously, it doesn't kill the online sales model. In fact- it doesn't matter. Not like many bike nerds think it does. Folks buy bikes for reasons that go beyond fit and test rides don't even enter into the equation. Some online companies have a return mechanism in place in case something doesn't fit right, or feel good. Trek probably has this covered as well. The point is, this isn't the stumbling block that many make it out to be.
- Pricing- Well, it may not be an advantage to Trek customers now. But don't be at all surprised if that's how things end up going. Trek sees fewer bike shops every month in the USA. (As do all brands) This means less opportunities to sell Trek product, and that trend of the shrinking local bike shop base isn't showing signs of abatement any time soon. Online sales open up "new territories" that are not covered, or serviced well by dealers. Those folks won't mind paying retail now, since many maybe cannot even get to a Trek dealer now. Plus, the "online store" is open 24-7. Once more big players come into doing online sales, and they will, then the pricing wars will heat up.
|Local bike shops are destined to become "service centers"|
Of course, this won't happen overnight, and many of us won't notice diddly squat difference in the coming months, or maybe years. But I believe a sea change is coming. Look- the way things are now in the bicycle industry is not a sustainable business model. It has to change, or it won't last. I may have it totally wrong, or not. Whatever happens, it won't be the same as it is today anymore.
Also, I believe when one thing moves, there will be a separate reaction to it that counters that move. Will the big brands consolidate their dealers into "service centers" and make way for smaller brands to come in and make a new "independent bike shop" model that we cannot even imagine now? Possibly. Who knows, but I wouldn't be surprised if something of that nature happened. Time will tell. Trek has cast a stone into the calm waters, and the ripples that come out from this will be changing the way bicycle business is done in the future. That I am pretty sure of.