Episode 81: *special episode* shifting channels in the specialty bicycle market

“[SmartEtailing] was born from a passion to preserve and grow the Independent Bike Dealer (IBD) channel, and we’re the same today.”

– Ryan Atkinson, President + Co-owner of SmartEtailing

To listen to all episodes in this  series, click here


Part 1: ecommerce solutions for independent bike dealers with ryan atkinson

In full transparency: I love cycling. I also believe that the bike industry provides a unique purview into a specialty industry that’s mid-gap jump in terms of channel evolution.

In today’s show with Ryan, you’ll learn that many independent bike dealers and bike manufacturers are still timid about committing to ecommerce as a channel – for lots of reasons. As we’ve reported in on before on Channel Mastery, you’ll hear once again from this expert that specialty businesses NEED to expand into this realm to continue to serve your connected consumer today.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to be a digital marketing expert to reap the rewards. Ryan shares today that the tools exist so that you can make all of these things happen while staying focused on your superlative customer service and cycling expertise.

As Ryan says, just putting a shopping cart on your site doesn’t mean you’re immediately in direct competition with Amazon or Competitive Cyclist. It just means you’re delivering better service for your customers, and the type of experience they want right now.

MORE COW BELL: In April and May, I’m producing a special cycling series with Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, and Verde Brand Communications, the presenting sponsor of Channel Mastery. I’ll be interviewing leaders of legacy bike brands that are working hard to evolve and to become more consumer-centric. It’s about continuing to test, learn, taking managed risk and serving your tribe relentlessly and obsessively.


Ryan Atkinson

Ryan is passionate about enhancing marketing for independent bicycle dealers. With more than 20 years of related experience, Ryan has worked in almost every aspect of the bicycle retail distribution network, from turning wrenches at the local bike shop to launching new products for Trek Bicycle Corporation.

Before joining SmartEtailing, Ryan founded Harvest Retail Marketing, a leader in marketing solutions for the independent bike dealer. His diverse background has engendered a deep understanding about the challenges facing independent retailers and the importance of implementing marketing and technology solutions to grow those businesses.


Independent bike dealers, ecommerce, bike industry, connecting point of sale with ecommerce, omnichannel sales, MAP policies and protection, click and connect, buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS), REI expansion into bike


“The reality has made running a bike shop more complex, and this dynamic and the industry is only going to accelerate.”

“Fundamentally, the IBD network has the same thing [as Walmart stores have as a competitive edge against Amazon]. We’ve got the best product distributed across the country close to consumers. How do we use technology to connect those two?”

“…The game is being won or lost right now in search. And if [bike shops are] not getting in there, then you’re just watching your business erode.”

“I care deeply about bike shops. I want to see bike shops continue to do the things in the local community that only they can do. But I believe I have an obligation to help them pull more sales through their business so that they can continue to do those great local things for years to come.”



Click-and-Connect Superconsumers Buy More In-Store,” by Dan Alaimo, (July 2018) Retail Dive

Correction to audio: 2018 YOY online sales growth for SmartEtailing was referenced as 15%. The actual number is 16.45% for YOY increase in online sales across the SmartEtailing network of independent bicycle retailers. Online sales are significantly outpacing in-store sales.

Quality Bicycle Products

Target Announces Launch of Its Curated, Third-Party Marketplace, Target+,” by Sarah Perez (Feb. 2019) TechCrunch

Interbike, the Podcast, Episode 4,” with Tom Henry of Landry’s Bicycles


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