|Social media sites like Facebook are rife with pages that anyone can find a good used bike on.|
I've not seen much, if any, chatter in the industry rags about how social media is cutting in on the action. I believe that social media has changed the landscape. There is a bustling business in used bicycles and parts going on right now on various social media sites, but the biggest of these has to be Facebook.
Thinking back on my time in this industry, it has become apparent that the social media era we find ourselves in was the missing link to a market place that was just waiting for the right answer to come along to its problem. Throughout the decades, there have been thousands of new bicycles produced every year. The way the industry used to work was based on enticing consumers to buy the latest thing in cycling. That may have been the safety bicycle back in the late 19th Century, or the bicycle with a freehub and a coaster brake in the early 20th Century. "Ten speeds", mountain bikes, and the ultra-lightweight, carbon road bike all had their heydays in the pre-internet world. Part of the reason why was because there weren't any other venues or ways to pursue getting a bicycle easily than the local bike shop, or "LBS", for short.
|Barely used bikes at bargain prices are listed all the time on Facebook.|
You either found them randomly at garage sales, maybe traded in at the local bike shops, or they hung in various garages, barns, and storage sheds across the nation, never to be seen again. You might have had a vibrant sporting goods section in the local newspaper at one time, but you know what happened to all of those want ads? That is right, the internet killed that off. Besides, not everyone took a subscription out to a newspaper.
There was no real used marketplace for bicycles that was easy to use for decades. However; that all started to change with the advent of e-bay and Craigslist. Facebook has just accelerated the way used bikes are traded since the ads are free and there are no fees to trading beyond shipping the goods back and forth. There is no "negative feedback", ratings, or hoops to jump through. Anyone with a smartphone and a modicum of ability can set up an ad on Facebook's various cycling pages. Facebook cycling pages are basically modern day "want ads" without any cost.
|Many times retailers will even use the various Facebook pages to close out excess inventory.|
Now I've noticed a fairly new phenomenon where a user associated with a bike shop will list discontinued, demoed, or slightly used gear from a bicycle shop on various Facebook pages. The way this is done makes it difficult to pin down who the shop behind the deal is. Sometimes the use of stock photos is a clue, or the item appears to be in a shop setting. Sometimes I've seen comments in threads under sale posts that reveal that the gear or bicycle in question is indeed bicycle Brick & Mortar inventory. I guess it is a case of "if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em."
So, the bottom line is that these used bicycle gear sites and "pages" have to be taking a bite out of the LBS's sales. I can point to a few things I am aware of that affected the shop where I work, so I am sure we are not an outlier there. This is an undercurrent of the troubles that the bicycle business is experiencing that isn't being addressed by the talking heads and so-called experts in the industry. The bicycle business based its existence on "model years" and the "latest thing" for so long that the bubble of used gear that built up has now become a flood of commerce that is happening right under the industry's nose, and the industry doesn't even seem to notice it.