One of the most common questions in any bike shop — right behind “Can I get some air?” and “Will you match this price?” — is “Where’s a good place to ride around here?”
The bike shop is where we all go to find the best routes. By “we” I mean self-identifying cyclists who know that trick. Bike shops retain a unique position in the the community this way. They are a repository for local ride knowledge.
When I travel, the first place I go to find out where to ride is the local bike shop. If I have a great experience riding a route or trail suggested by the shop, I feel a connection with the shop. And it often inspires me to make a purchase, share something on social media, or suggest them to my friends. More and more, it’s the intangible value additions that make retailers successful.
Not long ago, I was in Denver on business and went to lunch with my old friend, Nick. Since he was the local, he picked the spot. It wasn’t a place I would have picked; not because it was too dirty or scary, but because it wasn't dirty enough! The restaurant was nestled in a shiny new strip mall in the suburbs and, when I pulled up, the line was out the door. It was, without exaggeration, the best BBQ I’ve ever had. And it wasn’t just the food, it was the whole experience. It was the backstory on the chef, the impressive heft of my plate of meat and napkins, and the temporary abandonment of facial hygiene. The next time I go to Denver, I will ask Nick where I should eat. He’s the local. He knows. He has knowledge of the place that makes it special.
Another example of this is the local fly fishing shop. They have plenty of products for you to buy (or resist with all your willpower from buying), but the "goods" are in the heads of the shopkeepers. They know the where to go and when to go. A few words from them could save you hours of hiking, casting, and testing flies. That's valuable knowledge up there in those heads.
Nick didn't cook the food in Denver, but sharing the local knowledge and curating the experience made him the authority. The anglers at the fly shop didn't put the fish in the river, but they've accrued the knowledge over time.
We love the idea of making local knowledge profitable, so we've designed our tools to help bike retailers and brands use their local knowledge to add value to their products and customer experiences.
As more and more products are available online at more than competitive prices, it's the experience that will drive local retail. Bike retailers need to share knowledge and provide experiences to deliver something beyond the commodity. It's the "outfitter" mentality. Riders will feel taken care of if you can predict and provide everything they need.
Our tools make it easy to take that knowledge and make it work for you. We make it simple to get customers out on good routes having great rides. New riders will feel confident and be able to enjoy their new bikes and associate that pleasant experience with the bike shop. Avid riders will discover new places and look to the bike shop for more. These are powerful tools making use of your existing knowledge to add value to your products.
So what are you waiting for? Let's see those routes!