What Fits You Best?
Clothing and helmets are both high turnover P&A categories within the bicycle industry that also offer dealers the potential of high margins, but not without challenges.
On the plus side, you can stock and display a large amount of product in a relatively small floor space, so the margin per square metre and therefore per dollar of rent that your paying, can be much higher than that of complete bicycles.
On the other hand, this same high value for small volume equation makes these categories prime candidates for mail order sales.
We spoke to some dealers and wholesalers, ‘off the record’ to get a general feel of how these markets have been going and what are some of the current trends.
The main headwinds with clothing are the fickleness of fashion trends and the need to carry a full size range which is always problematic when trying to match stock purchases with the actual demand for each size.
It’s mainly larger shops with better foot traffic that can generate the volume of sales to reduce these challenges. Therefore only a minority of shops still carry full ranges of stock line jerseys, but even if you’re one of those that don’t, there’s still lower hanging fruit to pick from the clothing tree.
Standard black knicks and plain MTB shorts never go out of fashion and you can carry a much smaller range to cover the market.
Another growing market, quite literally, is kids cycling clothing. With the Covid-19 seeing more families taking up cycling, be it MTB or just leisure riding along local paths, many families are spending serious money on a full set of bicycles. It’s not surprising that they’re also prepared to spending money on cycling specific clothing. And as the kids grow, that gives you the perfect opportunity for repeat business.
Then there’s shop kit. Depending upon the nature of your, store these can be strong sellers. You get to control the design and the breadth of how much shop logo product you offer, starting from a basic short sleeve jersey through to a full head to toe outfit from socks to caps with everything in between.
Not only can you get good margins, buying straight from the custom clothing supplier, but your customers become rolling billboards for your business.
Why not work on regular summer and winter orders and promote pre-orders via your social media to help optimise your sizing and order quantities and give you a quick cash turnaround with the new season’s shipment arrives?
Regardless of how much or little clothing you choose to stock, it’s amazing how many shops fall down on the basics of selling clothing.
You need a clean, uncluttered, private changing room for your customers to try on before they buy. Over the years I’ve seen many shop change rooms used to store the shop vacuum cleaner or a stack of overflow stock.
Next you need a full length mirror, preferably a couple, one inside the change room and another outside, for those who are happy just to hold something up in front of them.
Colours and details are important with clothing so you really need good light to make the garments pop. And although it does take some more space than side on, displaying the clothing full face on, particularly for jerseys, gives them more impact.
Australia is one of a very small handful of places worldwide where bicycle helmets are compulsory for all cyclists of all ages in all types of cycling.
The debate about whether this is a good idea will continue, but, as I’ve been in cycling media since before they became compulsory, I have no doubt that our sales are way higher now than they would otherwise be.
Here’s two ideas to help you increase your helmet sales. Firstly, right next to your helmet display have at least one mirror (in addition to your clothing mirrors) that’s at eye level so people can see what each helmet looks like when they try it on.
Second, make sure that you train all your sales staff, including your weekend casuals and new team members, about how best to help customers regarding sizing and fit.
This is not just a sales issue, you could be saving someone’s life. We’ve all seen people riding along with the strap buckled but dangling so loose as to be useless or even completely unbuckled helmets. Or helmets being worn like a beret, perched way to the back of the wearer’s head.
If customers feel like they’re getting good service and advice, then they’re more likely to make a purchase rather than walk out saying, ‘I’ll think about it.’
Clothing & Helmet Product Distributors in Australia
The Latz Report YearBook lists any organisation that supplies goods or services to retailers, or interacts with them in some bike industry related way.
For summaries of clothing and helmet product distributors, please follow this link to our Yearbook and use the Search function or Direct to Page option, to find: