It used to be that buying mountain bikes was only possible by going to your local store and checking out your available options. Simply put, it has always been a direct-to-consumer transaction if not, a purchase from an authorized retailer.
Nowadays, you can browse through a myriad of options online like many products. And with just a click of a button, you could already get yourself a MTB, but should you buy one online?
In general, only buy a MTB online if you know exactly what you need. Beginners should go to a local bike shop to make sure the bike fits. The right geometry varies per person and only experienced riders know which MTB fits their needs.
Top mountain bike manufacturers such as Giant and Trek have joined the e-commerce bandwagon, lending more credibility to the online buying method. As such, the list of bicycle companies selling digitally continues to grow.
Price is one of the main reasons why consumers will opt for the online route. With middlemen out of the picture, it makes it possible for you to find lower prices when you shop online. In fact, nearly 50 percent of Americans have done their shopping during the holidays last year, according to a recent national survey.
From small, mundane items to major appliances and devices, almost everybody has turned to online stores to give them better deals. And the future seems to shine much brighter on the digital marketplace with more shoppers relying on its selling concept.
Obviously people, at least half of them, will still choose to buy the old-fashioned way that is, going to a brick and mortar store to check out the goods. However, we are living in a digital era, and the bike business cannot exclude itself from this reality.
That’s why Giant and Trek maintain a hybrid sales channel with both physical and online shops, not to mention dealerships as well. At this point, there are more than 20 cycling brands that share the same sales model.
There are digital bike stores like Chain Reaction Cycles that carry their own labels such as the Vitus bikes. Similar shopping sites would even have exclusive selling rights through a partnership deal with certain manufacturers.
With large bike manufacturers making the transition to online sales, this indicates that the industry is willing to make the change to stay ahead in the game. Those who choose to stay behind can easily be overtaken by smaller companies who are aggressive enough to realize that this is the future of retail. Given more buying options, the shopper can score the best deal possible.
Let’s face it, how many times have you found yourself comparing the item you bought online versus the same that is sold in the department stores? You often end up getting more bang for your buck with those that were purchased from the website.
Buying a mountain bike in a digital shop has the same benefits. Your local store would sell a similar bike at a higher price because of the cost of running their establishment, which includes rent, payroll, electricity, and other operational expenses.
Many retailers have realized that they will still be able to address the needs of their customers, even if they sell it considerably lower through an online marketplace. One benefit to them would be significantly fewer overhead costs and a much bigger, albeit a more competitive market.
As a consumer, you have everything to gain from the expansion of bike companies to the digital world. You will enjoy bigger discounts in the process. Online stores also have promotional calendars by offering holiday discounts and clearance sale events.
Deals are further sweetened by waiving shipping fees and sales taxes, especially if you have bought big-ticket items such as bikes. In the end, online shopping provides even more savings to an already happy buyer.
How does buying a mountain bike from your couch sound? You don’t only save money when you do your purchase online, but time as well. You can make the transaction anytime you want, without being restricted by a store’s business hours.
You could be a licensed professional such as a surgeon who barely has the time to go to shops to buy what he wants. You can squeeze in that purchase during those short breaks. And in practically no time, you’ve just gotten yourself a fancy trail mountain bike without skipping your all-too-important lifesaving surgical operations.
There are no intrusive and smooth talking sales agents to pressure you into making a purchase right away, except maybe if it comes with a time-sensitive discount that forces you to grab the deal at that moment. In any case, you can do it at the comfort of your home in your lounge shorts, workplace after a meeting, or wherever you may be. You don’t have to dress up and drive to the store as well only to realize that they don’t have what you want.
Furthermore, a number of online stores allow flexible modes of payment with purchase. Aside from major debit and credit cards, you can also pay through a cash on a delivery arrangement, personal check, money order, cryptocurrency, among others. In case you are uncomfortable sharing your card details online, most digital shops have a toll-free number which you can call to process your payment.
Turning to the internet to shop for that bike that you can no longer find at your local store is also why we are making a case for online mountain bike buying.
For the retailer, warehousing their inventory in a central location allows them to sell the product longer without affecting their profit margin. They have less quantities of the current bike models in-store so that they can refresh their items regularly with updated ones. Once again, the customer is in for a significant discount, especially if they are not particularly after the latest trail model, for instance.
When you opt to buy online, you are likely to grab a bike that may not be locally sold in your state. You can also find many cycling accessories available that enable you to make that bundled purchase. And this will only result to even better deals for you.
Despite what others may perceive a lack of customer service when it comes to online shopping, there are a good number of reputable digital stores that are able to provide excellent communication with their shoppers.
You will notice that aside from a toll-free customer hotline, there are open contact channels through chat and messaging facilities. Well-trained customer representatives are available during business hours, if not 24/7 for bigger online operations to put buyers at ease in order to make a confident purchase.
There is an automatic-response system for frequently asked questions, and an after-sales communication, which will help you in solving any problems even months following your transaction.
Policies are often laid out clear as day on the website so that there will be less confusion among buyers. Return and refund procedures are about the same as the one provided in-store.
Meanwhile, buying digitally is obviously not without its shortcomings, like being unable to feel the item as an example. As such, here are tips that can minimize some of the potential issues.
Visualize Your Purchase
Not seeing the mountain bike of your choice before buying may be a disadvantage of online shopping, but “showrooming” is the way to go about it. This is a common buying practice among digital buyers where they go to the brick and mortar shop to see the product but make the purchase online. If there’s one thing you should never do is visit your local bike shop, test a bike and then buy it online.
Not only is it unethical, that shop probably will refuse to maintain your MTB and righty so. Showroom all you want, ask questions but stay decent.
Pick the Right Type, Size and Fit
Many would recommend that first-time MTB buyers should forego the online method and instead, buy it in-store. If you’re new to mountain biking, you may not be able to buy the right one for you, especially when you cannot grasp what cycling terms such as drivetrain, full-suspension, etc. mean. However, those in-the-know will benefit more from this endeavor. The incredible price and convenience are too good to ignore in this case.
Learn About Your Bike Assembly Options
Most bikes are shipped partially assembled, which should not be a problem for those with the technical know-how. Some like Trek would have local partners where they will drop the order off so that it will be assembled before being picked up by the customer. Of course, you may also have the choice of having the bike fully assembled when delivered to your doorstep. Remember that these options may come at an additional cost to you so you should forget to factor this in when computing for your total purchase price.
Make use of the available communication channel with a customer service representative and ask all your questions, no matter how silly they may seem. Inquire about the bike details, warranty, refund and return policy, to name a few. The important thing here is for the buyer to make the right purchase.
Should you buy your mountain bike online? After considering our discussion here, the answer is yes but only if you know exactly the type, geometry and size you need. Buying your bike from a local shop may have its own advantage. Especially with the staff who will be ready to help you with your ensuing maintenance needs, giving more value to your purchase perhaps
But the question is, do you need that extra value when going online could literally save you at least a few hundred dollars and get excellent customer service just the same? I guess we already know the answer to that.