In Europe it has long been the norm for major bike companies to sell direct, offering 24/7 shopping, a custom bike configurator, and delivery of either pre-built or parts. Naturally, there are pros and cons to this, but now the industry giant Trek have announced that their bikes will be available for direct sale online as of September. This decision has sent waves through the American bike scene, and given rise to controversial discussions.

Newsflash: Trek Bikes sind ab September in den USA auch online erhältlich.
News flash: Trek Bikes will be available online direct from September

This step marks a move from the steel-like bond between one of the biggest US bike brands to local bike shops, and the potential effects of this ‘new’ sales channel on the market could be disastrous. With virtually almost every other dealer a faithful Trek stockist, this step comes as a surprise and is a first for the US market, where many brands have rejected online sales to maintain their dealer network and a reliance on traditional sales channels.

But what’s really behind this decision? Trek aren’t entirely breaking their old traditions; the online shopping will initially be limited to ordering via their own website. The customer can custom-build their bike, order it and subsequently pay for it online. Delivery of the complete bike will be arranged through a local sales partner, where the final build and set-up will be performed. So this isn’t your classic e-commerce where the manufacturer delivers direct to the final customer, and nor is it stock clearance/dumping – the bikes will cost the same as in the shop. This ensures the quality remains high and customer relationships are valued. The dealers keep their contact with the customers, and are paid by Trek for the ‘sale’ of the bike – a certain delivery and trade fee of around 20% margin loss.

Kein klassischer E-Commerce vom Hersteller direkt zum Endkunden und dadurch auch kein Preis-Dumping – Trek Bikes werden auch zukünftig nur über den Fachhändler ausgeliefert.
Not a classic case of e-commerce seeing the product go straight from the manufacturer to the end customer, and nor will there be any price dumping – Trek Bikes will still only be delivered by their dealers.

Trek justify this decision as having observed developments in e-commerce for years and gained experience. Now they see it as the time to actively take part. Customers want to buy online; the market has fundamentally changed. At the annual ‘Trek World Dealer’ conference a few days ago, John Burke, the president of Trek, highlighted that this plan was the biggest investment that the firm has ever undergone. The online sales platform, known as Trek Connect, is part of a huge investment plan with the aim of strengthening the profitability of the US’s specialist dealership in the long-term. Trek’s dealers will undergo business management education, learning new sales and marketing tools as well as special service training sessions to ensure that they remain competitive in the 21st century. Having built a learning facility in Wisconsin, it is clear that Trek are fully committed to this plan. From January 2016, 1,000 Trek employees will receive further education here. Trek will continue to invest in local bikes shops, and in their customer service in particular. And considering how important online servicing expertise for bikes can be, this is a clever approach.

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Words: Steffen Gronegger Photos: Trevor Worsey


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