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Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 7 Feb 2011, 12:53pm
by redamy100
Hi Folks
I'm not sure i can do this on this forum but here go's.
It's a bit of market research really, the shock of redundancy has overcome me and instead of
hurtling back into the print industry i had an idea. I have many years experience of touring and
thought about starting a website, perhaps leading to a shop, selling quality adventure touring gear.
With the emphasis being on lightweight top quality equipment.
There are obviously many commercial websites around but i can't find any dedicated to cycle
touring only. So i just thought I'd try and get some general opinion from like minded people.
What do you think ?

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 7 Feb 2011, 2:45pm
by al_yrpal
There's a lot of competition, with SJS and Spa, as well as all the specialist mountain people with tents bags etc, and these cross over onto even bigger players. But... if you can come up with a lot of niche stuff....

I know how it feels and it turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. I was almost forced into starting my own business which I sold after 15 years to retire early.

Good luck!


Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 7 Feb 2011, 6:21pm
by snibgo
Cycle touring is currently ill-served in the UK. I reckon there is a good market opportunity for a website with informative articles, blogs and so on to attract readership, with a shop. The website needs to be kept alive, with new interesting material, to keep people coming. People will read your articles and recommendations, but will buy cheaper elsewhere is they can.

I know far less about the other side: you need to source "lightweight top quality equipment" at a price that allows you to compete with the big boys.

You need to be clear about the market you are aiming at, although it will probably change. It might be (for example): people who have already got bikes, hope to do a week's tour in the UK but aspire (dream of) something major in SE Asia.

Beware of defining a market that is too small.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 7 Feb 2011, 7:48pm
by vernon
I think that you will have to give some very careful thought to setting up your e-shop.

Who/what exactly are you aiming at?

UK Tourers?
European Tourers?
Seasoned tourers?

Folk wanting to buy their first set of gear?
Folk wanting to upgrade their gear?

Sleeping bags and mats?
Cooking gear?

Are you aiming to acquire franchises?

What are you competing with?
What can you offer that your competitors can't?
What can you do better than your competitors on the customer service front?
What sort of stock to you aim to carry and where will you keep it?
Can you deliver within 24hrs of receiving the orders?

How are you going to attract customers?
Where are you going to advertise?
How else are you going to generate income while you build your business?

I had a look at setting up an online business to generate part time earnings and after examining most of the questions or ones closely related to them - it was non cycling goods, I decided the ends definitley wouldn't justify the means. I'm not poo pooing your idea but do urge you to be cautious especially in this financial climate.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 7 Feb 2011, 8:29pm
by scottg
I don't think you can build a business just selling zip ties, P-clamps and duct tape. :D
Tourist are by far the stingiest of cyclists, most are quite proud of the fact
the have spent less than 100 quid on their complete touring rig.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 7 Feb 2011, 9:25pm
scottg wrote:I don't think you can build a business just selling zip ties, P-clamps and duct tape. :D
Tourist are by far the stingiest of cyclists, most are quite proud of the fact
the have spent less than 100 quid on their complete touring rig.

That's the old school tourist. There is money in them who want titanium and teflon.
It could work, but will need substantial effort to define your shop from the competition.

Bear in mind that we did have Gearshift, who were strongly tourist orientated, but what happened to them? I did like their gear selection (sorry :wink: ) though and made several purchases in my early touring days based on a perception that they knew their stuff. So from that point of view I think selling to the (quality) entry level market hooks you up to a new customer base, some of whom are likely to upgrade in the future. If I had a good experience with the basic stuff I would come back. Sticking to the top level stuff denies you that market segment.
And of course their is a strong cross over between walking/camping gear and cycle tourist stuff. It make sense to allie the two together.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 8 Feb 2011, 3:37am
by mattraisin
You seem to be approaching this the opposite way round to most online shops. You talk of becoming a sort of online magazine for tourers and then maybe branching into a shop. If you look at most online shops they also have blogs which they developed after becoming predominately a shop. Making money out of an online magazine is hard work. I am a blogger myself and have been maintaining a mildly popular satirical news blog with no effort to make money but eventually I decided to run adds (the only way a blogger makes money) and it simply doesn't pay even once the audience is there. The hardest thing is getting and maintaining audience which requires a serious amount of dedication. You would need to write or pay people to write a large amount of articles that make you a place to go consistently not just go once and not come back (return viewers are the key not new one off viewers). This can be very frustrating as when new you have no revenue to advertise yourself you can spend ages waiting for the audience to increase. And even adverts don't guarantee audience. There is always one rule of the web, without good content you don't get an audience, however good content does not guarantee an audience.

My advice is social networking, you want your site to be on facebook, twitter, digg, reddit, stumbleupon and any other social market you can think off. You want to be encouraging any would be audience to tweet, facebook, digg, stumble, like and share your content as much as you can and in this way an audience for one article at least can grow by ten times in the space of a few hours. Once you have an audience start floating the idea of a shop, maybe start off as a place people can come to trade goods before eventually selling your own. That way the audience for buying goods is already on your site hence stopping the possibility of buying in stock and having no one even on your site never mind buying from you.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 8 Feb 2011, 12:10pm
by patricktaylor
snibgo wrote:... you need to source "lightweight top quality equipment" at a price that allows you to compete with the big boys ...

Exactly right. The hardest bit. It is possible to compete with the big boys on Google but almost impossible on price. The big boys can sell a Brooks saddle for less than an LBS pays wholesale. I doubt if a would-be online trader can even obtain Brooks saddles wholesale.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 8 Feb 2011, 1:01pm
by TheBrick
Sounds like you would like a biking equivalent of most equipment is interchangeable between the two. MTB bikepacking with frame bags for short bivi trips is taking off and I believe there is a gap in this affluent market. If you could get some bikepacking style bags manufactured at reasonable cost that would give you your edge. The only problem is that most frame bags are custom made due to the variance in frame shape. The other bags could be mass produce.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 8 Feb 2011, 2:49pm
by nmnm
You might consider starting writing a blog of your trips and advice just on a something-to-do basis, even if you don't "monetise" it. You might find commenters are constantly asking about one or two things and that would give you ideas about where to focus any commercial effort.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 8 Feb 2011, 7:58pm
by willem jongman
The snag in the UK is that whereas cycling touring in the US or e.g. Holland is something for the well educated and affluent, it is far less so in the UK. So there isn't really the kind of market that is tapped e.g. by Bicycle Quarterly in the US. Just compare what people here think is a reasonble price for a bike or a tent with what US or Dutch cycle tourists are prepared to pay. When we have a club ride with the Dutch world cycle tour club about half ride bikes with Rohloff hubs and sleep in Hilleberg tents. In Holland, the higher your income the smaller (and lighter) your tent. :) In Holland it is also something for young families, which again is uncommon though not completely unheard of in the UK.
This is an important social and cultural difference. If people have to cut costs it is hard for a small supplier to make money. Moreover, there is also the competition from highly competitive German on line retailers.
But good luck, think of a niche market.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 8 Feb 2011, 9:24pm
by rualexander
In terms of a physical shop, I think there would be scope, in the right location, for an outlet that stocks and sells the quality brands that other shops don't. I'm thinking of things like Carradice, Busch & Muller, Surly, etc. All the shops around here only seem to stock the usual stuff like Altura, Cateye, etc.
I think you would have to combine it with a different market such as commuting, or perhaps 'adventure travel' type backpacking products.
As for online shopping, that pretty much comes down to price I think.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 9 Feb 2011, 10:44am
For many people a long tour is a "one off" or something that only happens every few years. The initial outlay is considerable particularly for a family group. Perhaps you should consider a "a touring bike and equipment exchange". This would enable beginners to purchase perhaps a bike and full kit for a tour at a reasonable secondhand price. Some would want to "Upgrade" for another tour.
You would obviously have to be able to make a living on the margin of the turnover. This sort of thing may suit an individual but would be too much hassle for large outfits.

Re: Dedicated to touring ??

Posted: 9 Feb 2011, 6:44pm
by Ptolemy
If outdoor gear shops do not cater to cyclists only, there may be a good reason for it. Perhaps appealing to a wider market is the key in some places. I have completed many very long bicycle tours. I really like it. However, I don't really know anyone else who does what I do.

All bike shops where I am from are simply bike shops, and that's all. For quality dedicated outdoors equipment suitable for serious cycling I would have to order through the internet or travel to a distant city. Wal Mart and K Mart and Target are useful options for some things, but these stores are very limited where the needs of the long-distance bicycling tourist are the matter.