I Know Nothing

Because I’ve been obsessing over ecommerce for 8 years I often erroneously start believing I’m an expert.  I’m not.  Case in point— on my virtual stroll through ecommerce stores I stumbled on bikesdirect.com.  Please stop reading, visit their homepage and return in 10 seconds.  I didn’t take bikesdirect.com seriously because it was obviously a “small” site with a “1995” look.  For laughs I checkout out their compete.com visit stats (https://siteanalytics.compete.com/bikesdirect.com)—

Bikesdirect.com_Traffic

In 5 seconds flat my smile was gone.  Please help me understand why this site has so much traffic.  And if they have so much traffic what could have convinced the owner to never redesign?  I mean, at first look it seems like the site has tons of “friction”.  But maybe I’m totally wrong.  Maybe the owner of bikesdirect.com understands something about online shoppers I never well.

PS: Their customer service email ID is bd4servicecenter@aol.com.  I would never buy from a site where their customer service ID was bd4servicecenter@aol.com.  But I guess that’s just me.

8 thoughts on “I Know Nothing

  1. Just because their visit numbers are high doesn’t necessarily mean that they are getting sales, a re-design would still be sensible. But a very interesting observation all the same.

  2. They are an interesting case.

    In the bicycling industry, most brands forbid online sales. Trek and Specialized and Cannondale, for example.

    So it is pretty hard to buy a new bike online.

    These guys went and got a bunch of second tier brands that don’t care about online sales like Motobecane and Kestral. They sell them cheap and can still make large profits because bike shops mark up bikes with an incredibly high artificial margin because the major brands don’t allow real competition.

    Since it is hard to buy a complete bike online in general, it would not surprise me if these guys are banking in spite of their outdated design.

    For a minute, I thought you were writing about biketiresdirect.com, which is also an interesting story about some guys who started small. I buy tires from them quite often. They are very regular about emailing deals and updates to remind you to buy something else.

    • Lars said: They sell them cheap and can still make large profits because bike shops mark up bikes with an incredibly high artificial margin because the major brands don’t allow real competition.
      Rishi: But doesn’t this hurt manufacturers (bike shops taking all the margins)? Wouldn’t manufacturers benefit by allowing virtual bike shops to sell their bikes?

      Lars said: Since it is hard to buy a complete bike online in general, it would not surprise me if these guys are banking in spite of their outdated design.
      Rishi: That’s probably what’s going on. Still, a redesign couldn’t hurt. At the very least don’t use bd4servicecenter@aol.com as your customer service email address.

      • I think from the manufacturer’s perspective, most bike shops are small businesses that aren’t particularly well run. They need that margin to survive.

        Without a network of bike shops that are financially viable and able to do service on the major bike brands, the manufacturers would be in trouble in the long term. Bike shops are extremely important because of the service issue.

        And selling online and crushing margins will almost certainly put a lot of shops out of business.

        Bike prices actually keep going up to an insane extent. There is a giant number of $8K and $10K bikes that you can see at a lot of bike shops, and people are actually buying them.

    • Lars said: Without a network of bike shops that are financially viable and able to do service on the major bike brands, the manufacturers would be in trouble in the long term. Bike shops are extremely important because of the service issue.
      Rishi: That actually makes a whole lot of sense.

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