By John Marsh, Editor & Publisher
The bicycle, e-bike and bicycle parts and accessories industries have banded together to form the World Bicycle Industry Association (WBIA), in part to give the bike industry a voice in discussions over technology allowing communication between vehicles.
Founding members are the Bicycle Association Japan, the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, based in the U.S., the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry and the Taiwan Bicycle Association.
“Vehicle-to-vehicle communications are advancing rapidly and as an industry we were kept out of the discussion because we did not have a worldwide association,” said Moreno Fioravanti, the secretary general of the European Bicycle Manufacturers Association and an executive at Accell Suisse AG. “Now we do and we will be participating in these discussions going forward as e-bikes and light electric vehicles need to be a part of these discussions.” Fioravanti was the driving force creating the world group.
The discussions Fioravanti is referring to are taking place in Europe but involve issues and planning that may well migrate to the U.S. and elsewhere around the world. Namely, the European Union is progressing toward implementation of its Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) – which is slated to employ information and communication technologies in traffic management and enable various groups to use transportation systems in a safer, more coordinated, and smarter manner.
“While we don’t have a similar system to ITS in the U.S., we know that many things developed in Europe get adopted here in one form or another. So it’s important for the U.S. industry to know how things are developing,” said Larry Pizzi, WBIA’s second vice president. Pizzi is managing director of Raleigh Electric and serves as the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association’s vice president and chairman of its e-bike committee.
The association’s website is www.wbia.ch.
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Felt Launches New Online Sales Program
Joining other well-known bike brands including Giant, Felt recently announced that it has launched a new online sales program, dubbed Customer Connect, that allows buyers to spec out their bikes online and take delivery at their local Felt dealer.
Felt’s new program also includes a Buy Local Now option through its website that allows a purchaser to see if the bike they want is in stock at their LBS.
Felt said that when considering options for online sales, it felt strongly that local bike shops remain a vital part of the value proposition and the purchase process for the Felt brand.
“We think the IBD is an integral part of the business model,” said Adam Micklin, Felt VP of global sales and marketing. “We looked at programs out there. We felt that if a Felt customer wants a bike they need to have access to it, but it still needs to be consistent with our business. It needs to be the right bike with the right fit, and that happens through the dealer.”
The company said its program research showed that less than 1 percent of total bikes sold in North America are sold online. However, Felt realized that customers do a lot of their own research and shopping online.
“The fact that they’re researching the product online and if they choose to purchase it online we don’t want to say, ‘You can’t,'” said Tyler Meyers, Felt’s international sales manager. “We want to have a program and operational support to deliver the bike consistent with their expectation. It’s removing barriers to access but also saying, ‘We want you to work with the retailer because that’s where you get the best fit, or if you have questions or need service,'” he added.
It seems a near certainty that, following Canyon launching its direct-to-customers sales program in the U.S. last year, all the major bike makers will be watching closely and determining the best online sales programs for their brand(s).
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