New 4th Era of Bicycling: The Mobile Evolution Has Begun
Cycling Industry Gets More Mobile
-Image by: http://cycle-tech.myeweb.net/
It has been mentioned several times that we are approaching the fourth era of bicycling industry. The bike industry is indeed entering in a new evolution; one full of eBikes, workshops, deliver, specialty service and convenience galore.
As stated in a previous article, there has been a steady decline of brick and mortar bike shops in the US. The industry has seen ups and downs all over recently but mostly heading in a specific direction. Convenience. But even online retail is having difficulties sustaining itself. There are certain aspects you just can’t cater to with an online only platform. Enter the Omni-Channel. Everyone from Amazon to UPS to Competitive Cyclist and even the National Bicycle Dealers Association itself are restructuring to remain relevant in the new 4th age.
Workshops are proving one profitable wave of the future. Specifically, mechanics workshops for catered or targeted audiences. Not only do customers learn about their bikes, they become more informed about their bicycle for future purchases, upgrades and repairs. This does not remove the need for professional mechanics, it actually increases the need for certified instructors to lead these mechanics clinics and classes.
As brick and mortars struggle to stay afloat, workshops provide off season income in addition to adding a personal element which consumers have begun to expect and is right in line with the Omni-Channel platform. Education is a powerful consumer tool that is being utilized by those within the industry that see the change coming. Some repair shops are even opening workshop spaces either in addition to or in replacement of the brick and mortar retail.
An essential element of the 4th era is more mobility. Along with mobile mechanics and doorstep repairs, manufacturers have now partnered with fleets such as Beeline Bikes and velofix in order to sell professionally built bicycles delivered directly to consumers. Pon.bikes has gone so far as to purchase a Dutch mobile mechanic fleet while, Minnesota partnered with velofix to buy the franchise for the entire state. The partnership with mobile mechanics allows bicycle manufactures to fulfill that last mile service and PDI that shops without delivery and online sales and delivery platforms just cannot provide. PDI is a ‘pre delivery inspection’ that is regulated in the United Kingdom for bicycle mechanics, however there currently is not a set standard to check a bicycle before sold in the US if purchased online and delivered direct to consumers door without a professional mechanic in-between. Improperly assembled bikes, bicycles built by anyone other than a professional mechanic, can be so incorrectly assembled the that bike fails, potentially injuring the rider and eventually turning that person off from bicycles in general. That last mile service by a professional, friendly mechanic delivered straight to your front door – is just the beginning of the potential Omni-Channel customer service programs.
In fact, the mobile mechanic platform is proving to be quite successful, with velofix boasting record profits, a 300% growth in 2016.
The other inevitable frontier of the 4th era is the eBike. It has continued to see sales increase all over the globe and finally here in the US as well. There has been “up to 50%” increase in sales in 2016 with an estimated continued growth to 70% by the end of 2017. EBike popularity is gaining so much momentum that new laws are having to go into effect to regulate their use.
Previously mentioned, UPS is going with the new eBike flow. Purchasing a test fleet of eCargobikes for delivers, UPS sights that the business began on bicycles. Pon, that purchased the Dutch mobile mechanic fleet also purchased the San Francisco based eBike company Faraday Cycles. Pon, may be onto something.
However, not everyone is so sure they want to commit to the purchase of an eBike and one company has those consumers covered. Also under Pon Holdings, Gazelle eBikes now offers leasing options complete with insurance. EBike rentals are available in a wide range of locations, but the availability of leasing an eBike is another way to gain consumer retention and expansion.
What does it all mean? Well, the advances and changes are happening. The trends continue and not everyone will be able to keep up. There is a definitely a connection between the rapidly evolving mobile mechanics, direct to consumer – last mile service models and the newly founded Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association, which aims to create and regulate mandated criteria for bike mechanics. If more companies like UPS use eBikes, eCargobikes or fleet bicycles in general, they will require professional maintenance. And as the future goes faster and requires more convenience and consumer friendly platforms – doorstep service and deliver are not likely to go away any time soon. Yet seem capable of providing a much needed boost to the bicycle industry, especially local shops which can capitalize on some of these new 4th era waves.
The forth era of bicycle industry is here. Can’t stop the flow, to remain a afloat – all levels of the industry are going to need to adapt.
- by Hard Knox Staff, B. Brown
– Featured Image by: www.velonews.com/