A consumer direct portal selling products including shoes, pedals, cleats, and other accessories directly to consumers has now gone live on the website of Shimano USA. American brand retailers have expressed their dismay upon learning this week via email.
It appears that many brands are boosting up incentives for customers to buy right before the holiday season, making them far from alone in the practice.
However, according to Dominic Langan, head of Madison UK, who also spoke this week on the CI.N podcast to recap what has changed in the bicycle industry in 2022, what is alarming bike shops stocking Shimano accessories over the Atlantic is unlikely to be replicated here in the UK and probably not in the EU.
When asked about Shimano’s behavior, Dom responded that it “definitely isn’t happening here in the UK and (I’m) quite confident not anyplace in Europe either.” Dom was referring to the consumer-facing portal moving stock without shop involvement.
The news has been received differently on the opposite side of the Atlantic, with some stores quickly growing accustomed to being bypassed on specific commodities and others furious that their enterprises were ignored.
One retailer who addressed the issue in the bike industry’s Facebook group “Cycling Industry Recovery” chose to photoshop banners onto the Trek and Shimano websites, demonstrating the belief that it would be simple to identify retail partners as a nearby and practical source, as opposed to delaying mention of this in the Festive promotions until near the checkout.
Which direct-to-consumer advertisements, mine or theirs, do you prefer? questioned the poster when identifying the brands in the comparison photo sets.
This merchant explained to CI.N why he had built the alternative Shimano and Trek websites, saying: “I think it is time for all vendors who have been built by the IBD to have it front and center to point customers to us first, and have the direct to consumer option only if a local dealer is unavailable in their area or unwilling to order from them.”
As margins have shrunk and some products’ profitability has decreased, the trend in the bike industry for distributors and manufacturers to establish a consumer-facing portal has turned into one-way traffic. As a result of the current glut, some products are now being sold outside of stores since they are unable or unable to get rid of the excess inventory.
When a customer cannot be asked to choose a local stockist during the checkout process, wholesalers frequently sell directly to customers. Due to the convenience of online purchasing, it has become a contentious topic in the industry and has led several stores to drop long-standing brands.
The tendency of bike shops allocating more floor space to the workshop, where they have better control over pricing and margins, has been largely influenced by this. This was the second-largest obstacle for retailers to overcome, trailing only the unpredictable nature of inventories, Amazon rivalry, and the difficulties with imports brought on by Brexit.
The connection between stores and Shimano has long been a contentious one because Shimano is the largest and most widely used bicycle component brand in the world. Back in 2016, one of CyclingIndustry.News’ most popular articles featured a shop who vowed to cease stocking the brand until it improved its supply to retailers who had been able to beat local distributor pricing by procuring from rumored gray sources and subsequently selling to consumers.