Bike Shops - Selling to Women

Last Sept. at the Bicycle Industry mega-show, Interbike, I stole away a few minutes’ in-between appointments to attend a seminar, “The 7 Deadly Sins of Selling to Women” with Bridget Brennan.
Bridget Brenan is the author of  “Why She Buys” an in-depth look at women shoppers, they’re buying habits, what’s important to them and why women should be important to companies out there. She also owns and runs a consulting firm exclusively on marketing and selling to women.

The seminar was based on bike shops. The room was about halfway full of shop employees, sadly very few men.  Bridget had gone to multiple bike shops and had shopping experiences from a beginner cyclist point of view. And as you are probably guessing, her experiences were not great.  But, let’s not dwell on what some bike shops are not doing right, let’s look at what shops can do to make their store more appealing to women. I've mixed Bridget's recommendations with my own retail experience and knowledge of what bike shops have the ability to do.
·      Greeting – say Hi.

1.     Welcome all patrons when they walk in the door. Eye contact and quick hello within the first 30 seconds someone walks through the door go a long way. If your busy with a customer, even a head nod and smile let’s people know, “Hey, I work here, I’m friendly and willing to help you.”

·      Good Customer Service - This is the most important and vital thing you can do to keep returning customers and obtain word of mouth for being a great place to go for everything bike.

1.     Start a conversation with your customers. Use open-ended questions, questions that cannot be answered with a yes or a no.
2.     Make a connection with people. Finding out how experienced they are in cycling will determine how to communicate and sell to them. Someone who considers himself or herself an “experienced” cyclist is going to have a good idea of what they are looking for and probably have specific brands they love. A "beginner" will need a little more time and possibly a checklist of what they should obtain today and what they should consider in the future.
3.     Go that extra mile for the "beginner" or the "intermediate" rider. Encouragement and being comfortable in a new environment can build a lifelong customer, and get you referrals of new cyclist.
4.     Make her feel smart about bikes and her purchase
5.     Give an experience that cannot be obtained online
6.     Add-ons. I've noticed most shops don’t take advantage of the register add on. Examples; patch kit, a magazine, a hydration mix, water bottle, etc. Think small dollar items, like the candy and magazines at your local grocery store.

·      Ambiance – The atmosphere of your shop can quickly deter women and people in general from getting past the threshold.
1.     First and foremost, cleanliness! Most people do not care to enter any kind of store where they are afraid to touch anything, especially the bathroom.
2.     Good lightning. The dungeon look is not appealing.
3.     Friendly, kid appropriate music. Basically no heavy cussing.
4.     At least 1 woman on staff!
5.     Have posters and marketing materials with women in the photos.
6.     Organization. Allot a space for women specific products. Don’t make them have to dig to find what they are looking for.
7.     Have a dressing room, with a chair in it. The bathroom is not a changing room. Gross.
8.     Have a safe place for storing purses or bags while on a test ride. If it’s going behind the counter, you will have to show through staff customer service that they are trustworthy. (This ties into selling to.)

·      Don’t Ignore Kids or Companions –
1.     It’s an up-selling opportunity. Moms want their kids to be safe on bikes (helmet, bells, lights) and kids bikes now are amazingly cool compared to the bikes we had as children. Yes, they are more expensive, but the quality is so much better. Hand-me-down and re-sell opportunity is part of a kid bike investment.
2.     If the shopper’s companion is bored, ignored or anxious, the sale will likely be stopped and they will leave.
3.     Accommodate them: have a couple chairs in the store, free water dispenser, coffee and free wi-fi. If you want to really make a Mom happy, have a kid corner with some toys.

·      Emphasize service – “are you aware we offer…”, A lot of this can be done via E-News.
1.     Pick up/delivery/ house calls
2.     Tune-up reminders
3.     Rides/Clinics
4.     Free bike fitting
5.     “Family Plan” for bike maintenance
6.     Free kids tune-ups on bikes bought in the shop
7.     Frequent rider club, track 1,000 miles on your new bike with Endomondo (example) and you get 10% off your next purchase
8.     Ask for the preferred method of communication; email, snail mail, text for tune-up reminders, or ask her if she’d like to sign up for E-News about events, etc.

·      Appreciation & Follow-up – this simple step will build on the returning and loyal costumer.
1.     Thank her and every customer who leaves the store with or without a purchase; “have a nice day”, “see you later”, “cheers”
2.     Welcome her back anytime
3.     Recommend a tune-up date.

I worked in retail management for 8+years, I take pried in everything I learned within that environment. How something as simple as making people feel comfortable in their surroundings can have such an impact on sales. There are many factors into running a successful store; hiring right, training, knowing what product to provide to your customers, scheduling, etc. The Bridget Brennan seminar hit all the key points to visual and service standards. In this blog post I dissected a bit of what Bridget was saying to focus on what bike shops already have and can be easily improved upon without spending a bunch of money.
What bike shops and many other companies are starting to realize is the buying power that women have. They average women buys for their kids, their in-laws and often their spouse. They also have "Veto Power", meaning if they are not happy about a possible purchase or customer service, more than likely it will not happen. Women have the potential to help us grow cycling and they often start by walking into their local bike shop.
Does your local bike shop excel at all the above?  Or should you forward the staff this blog...
Happy Riding!


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