Online Vs. In-Store
You spotted it on the bike parked next to you on the rack at work. Or maybe you saw it while in the bike lane, or online, or in the pages of Momentum Mag. It’s an accessory that would be a perfect upgrade for your daily ride. But where do you buy it?
Accessories and bikes for everyday riding are grabbing the attention and imaginations of riders everywhere. With the growth of online retail and direct sales from brands, bike shops are dealing with customers who have greater product knowledge and the tools to quickly compare prices.
When searching for your next bike or accessory upgrades where should you go? What are the pros (and the cons) of shopping online versus in a local bike shop?
AT THE BIKE SHOP
Bike shops are home to experts in bicycles, parts, and repairs. Shop owners and their staff proudly wear their “bike nerd” statuses. Their experience and insight into finding the right style or size can be invaluable.
In a shop you can compare and try different models, getting a firsthand feel for that upright bike or secure new lock. Shop employees can answer your questions and often help by pointing out the differences between two similar products. Many shops also offer free tune-ups and adjustments while your bike parts settle in.
However, finding a shop that specializes in supporting everyday people that ride bikes for transportation can be a challenge. Many shops focus on sports and recreation with a very limited number of lifestyle products, or none at all. Finding a local shop that fits your needs can require traveling long distances or be completely out of reach.
Good shops are places where you feel comfortable shopping and trust the sales and repair staff to taking care of your needs.
The online marketplace is dominated by one thing: pricing. Whether buying directly from a company or through an online shop, cutting out the middlemen makes it possible to find lower prices.
Shopping online is also becoming more reliable as retailers provide more information, photos, and even videos about products. Online reviews can help take some of the guesswork out of deciding on the right product if you trust the sources.
While you may find savings initially when buying online, when it comes to returns the time and cost of shipping a product back can start to offset the initial bonus. Cross-border shopping can also include additional duties and fees and is another hurdle for customer service.
Shopping online can help you in finding products not stocked in local shops while saving you money if returns or warranty issues don’t arise.
ONLINE PROS & CONS
- Lower prices
- Wider selection
- Detailed reviews
- No travel needed
- Returns and problems can by costly
- More guesswork in sizing
- Unreliable customer service
- Duties and taxes when cross-border shopping
- Driving down prices in brick and mortar stores and potentially threatening the success of local businesses
IN-STORE PROS & CONS
- Face-to-face interaction
- Get a firsthand feel for products
- Chance to compare products directly
- Service and warranty
- You can feel good for supporting a local business
- Many shops have a lack of expertise in transportation cycling
- Limited stock
- Inconvenient locations
- Difficult staff
- Cluttered shops and unfriendly retail environments