Workstand Blog

The online selling conversation is happening

By Ryan Atkinson

SE_BlogPost_OnlineSelling18_670x445SmartEtailing was invited to join discussions with Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and Interbike on the topic of online selling. I recommend that retailers read the article and listen to the podcast.

The podcast features insights from Tom Henry of Landry’s Bicycles and Woody Smith of Richardson Bike Mart about the role their websites play in their businesses.

Tom thinks that over 90% of his in-store business happens after a consumer interacts with his website. And Woody points out that his website is the number one way his business reaches new customers.

According to survey results cited in the Bicycle Retailer article, 60% of bike shops don’t sell online. If you are in that group, listen to what Tom and Woody have to say and then ask yourself whether you have confidence in your strategy for business growth.

Listen Now

Bicycle Retailer and Industry News cover story

Bicycle Retailer surveyed more than 1,000 retailers to get a snapshot of the role online selling plays in their businesses.

Perspectives on online sales

Survey results show that more than half of respondents are doing less than 5% of their overall business through ecommerce. This is consistent with what we see with our retailers, large and small.

In the Interbike podcast, Tom Henry points out that 1-2% is nothing to scoff at. Those are real dollars that can make the difference between growing and shrinking in any given year, and that 1-2% can have a multiplier effect. These are new customers that a bike shop can win over and turn into loyal buyers who generate referrals.

Most business owners pay careful attention to a growing revenue stream, even if it’s small. Electric bikes are a good example. Three years ago the industry started to pay attention when this relatively small category began growing at a faster rate than the rest of the market. Today, most retailers are adapting to capitalize on the category, which includes shifting resources and investing in product to remain competitive.

In 2017, online sales across all SmartEtailing clients saw double digit growth, outpacing growth in most physical stores and certainly the overall market. As with the e-bike example, retailers who have invested in this category are experiencing the biggest gains. Our most committed retailers are selling more than $1,000,000 on their SmartEtailing websites.

Not all retailers recognize the online growth opportunity yet, but I think that is mostly because of uncertainty and confusion about new categories or styles of business.

More than online sales

Most of our clients see the primary role of a catalog-enabled website as a tool for local shoppers to discover in-stock inventory.

In today’s market, a website is a tool for attracting search traffic to a retailer’s business and helping shoppers make informed purchases. 65% of people view online search results as the most trusted source of information about a business.

According to Retail Wire, 88% of people say they webroom online before ever stepping foot in a physical store. One survey found that today’s consumers spend an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase. If a retailer’s merchandise and in-store services aren't easy to find online then potential buyers never connect with local retailers.

Overcoming roadblocks to enter the market

There is nearly an equal split between retailers already selling online and not, with 20% of retailers on the fence about whether it is right for their business.

The biggest barrier for retailers not already selling online are concerns that it doesn’t align with their business model. I would argue that consumers don’t see online shopping the same way traditional retailers do. Consumers don’t see a difference between the two ways to buy from a business.

Ecommerce and physical retail have become much more intertwined than many retailers realize. According to a recent study by Deloitte, $0.56 of every dollar spent in a physical store is influenced by some type of digital interaction.

Tom Henry drives home that point in saying that he looks for every opportunity to meet a shopper. Any bike shop owner that visits Landry’s would respect the exceptional brick-and-mortar retail experience the business delivers. It’s hard to look at their business and say that online selling is incompatible with being a great local bike shop.

The next biggest roadblock for retailers who are not selling online is, “inability to invest in implementing and supporting.” That is the very problem that SmartEtailing solves.

If a retailer is going to overcome the daunting task of building an online catalog, integrating it with their local inventory/pricing, and maintaining the system, it can be prohibitively expensive. With SmartEtailing, a retailer just pays a monthly subscription to access industry leading content, integrations, and functionality.

Roadblocks for current sellers

Retailers already selling online have a different set of barriers. Nearly half of respondents see competing with established ecommerce retailers as their biggest barrier.

There is no getting around this challenge, but that’s precisely why SmartEtailing merged with a marketing company. We have an entire team helping retailers win local search and merchandise their websites. Our marketing specialists are constantly researching new digital trends to help our clients succeed.

On the product and infrastructure side, we are improving site speed, mobile functionality, organic search performance, ease of shopping, and integration with Google Shopping. These developments specifically target the issue of competing.

I get that local bike shop owners find this world of competing for online search and sales a roadblock. That’s why SmartEtailing is in business, so a bike shop owner can simply partner with an expert in the field and let the platform and the professionals handle the digital website marketing component of their business.

Want to learn more?

I highly recommend that you take the time to read the Bicycle Retailer digital issue, and if you don’t currently get the magazine for your store, sign up for your free subscribe. Bicycle Retailer continues to be the best source for information about this fast changing industry.

To hear thoughts directly from two of the nation’s best bicycle retailers, check out the Interbike podcast, Click vs. Brick: How bike shops are tackling e-commerce.

Listen Now


If you have questions about SmartEtailing or anything you read here, please contact us today to learn more.

Topics: Websites Bicycle Retail Insights