4 Ways Smart IBDS Use the Web to Grow Local Sales

If your website isn’t actively generating sales, you’re doing it wrong

Words by Ryan Atkinson

The right website is an investment in your business. Here are 4 ways a good website should be helping your bike shop grow local sales.

1. Visibility: More Customers Can Find You
The shopping journey today starts with online search. A cyclist wants to buy something, and they start the process of discovering the right product by using the internet.

Some consumers will go directly to the local bike shop when they want to buy something cycling-related. This is the ideal scenario for a bike shop with a simple website and/or a Facebook page. In a world where consumers physically go to a local retailer when they want to make a purchase, this less sophisticated solution works. These bike shops can be discovered by a shopper who types “bike shop near me” in the search bar. Unfortunately, only a small number of consumers shop this way.

Most shoppers think about the product they want first, not where they are going to get it. They type “electric bike” or “bicycle floor pump” into the search bar. This is where a more advanced website can help to attract local customers. With an optimized website, you empower your business and the products you sell to be easily discovered by consumers in your local market. More consumers seeing your brand and interacting with your website increases your ability to convert more sales.

2. Convenience: It’s Easier to Buy From You
It’s no surprise to hear that consumers want convenience. This was true when Sears Roebuck started their catalog business in 1896, making a huge selection of product accessible to America’s growing population with convenient mail order and home delivery. It’s, of course, accelerated with the advent of the internet, online shopping, and Amazon.

Today, shoppers want to pull their phones out of their pockets and be a few quick taps away from buying precisely what they want, and then have it in their hands whenever they want.

Ten years ago, bike shops worried that online shopping was going to make bike shops irrelevant. But the online retail world is changing, and the advantage is shifting back to physical retailers who have products in-stock or available for free in-store pickup.

Click-and-collect shopping, buying online for in-store pickup, is one of the fastest-growing categories of online sales. The nation’s largest physical retailers are using this strategy as a competitive advantage over Amazon. By finding inventory locally, consumers win in several ways:

  • Immediate gratification with in-stock local product

  • Efficient shopping trips

  • Cost savings by avoiding shipping

  • Eliminate risk of package theft

  • Spending money locally

Today, a bike shop like yours can use your website to put a virtual cash register online. Shoppers can buy from you however they want. If they need to rush in to grab something on their way home from work, or send a spouse in to pick something up, they can purchase from your website and have the item waiting for an efficient visit to the bike shop.

If your local customers don’t have time to visit your shop, no problem, you can enable local shipping and deliver qualifying products straight to their home or office.

Local cyclists want to buy from you. They know the value of supporting local businesses. They see what you do in the community to get more people on bikes and create opportunities to ride.

3. Choice: Expanded Selection
More and more, you’re under pressure to reduce your local inventory, or even reduce your physical footprint, even as consumers have come to appreciate the vast selection available online.

Fortunately, your website doesn’t have the same limitations as your physical store, and you can display an expanded selection of product from your suppliers online. Does your website make it easy for consumers to toggle between in-stock and in-warehouse, down to the individual SKU level? It’s a feature you see when you shop with retailers like Best Buy or Target. These retailers want shoppers to see everything available for purchase. Consumers have become accustomed to expanded selections, and appreciate knowing that the local retailer they trust can provide them with the product they want, regardless of whether it’s in stock now or in an offsite warehouse.

4. Sales: More Effective Marketing
This is the piece that is often overlooked by bike shops. You should be using your website to display new products, seasonal categories, and promotions in order to encourage shoppers to interact with the product that’s most important to your business.

What happens now when you put the latest full-suspension mountain bike on your sales floor? Do you send an email to your customers letting them know? What’s the call to action? Are you asking your customers to visit your store to learn more? Or, instead, are you linking your customers to a bike brand’s website, where that shopper may choose to buy direct or from a local competitor?

Regardless of your responses, here’s what you should be doing: Build emails that link your customer to your bike shop’s website where you display your newest inventory the same day it is released by the manufacturer. That way your customers can see images, study product details, and read consumer reviews right on your website, and shopping with you is always at their fingertips, wherever they are.

What about online advertising? Do you use Google search, display, or shopping ads for your business? If so, where do your ads link? If it’s just to your homepage, that’s not good enough. Consumers expect to get the information they want in the fewest clicks possible.

Key Takeaways

  1. Your local bike shop will benefit from making it easier for local cyclists to find your business and buy from you (that’s an obvious one, right?).

  2. Consumers are going to continue evolving how they shop, and will have increasingly higher expectations for information, accessibility, and ease of purchasing.

  3. National retailers are leveraging the power of having physical inventory in-stock locally, and they’re using integrated websites to get that inventory into the hands of local buyers.

  4. You can make these .

This post was authored by Ryan Atkinson, President and Co-Owner of SmartEtailing. SmartEtailing provides website, marketing, and data solutions to help independent bicycle retailers compete in an evolving retail world.