Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Product Strategy - Retailers and Manufacturers

Bicycle retailers continually face the challenge of what products to carry and why, especially when first opening a store.

There are many things to consider including your store location, region, proximity to competitors, what your competitors carry, and of course who your customers are. There may even be some businesses or services which a shop can work with in order to create its own personality and give it credibility in the community. Services should certainly be considered in your product lineup as they can help to round out what your company/brand is all about.

Manufacturers similarly face the dilemma of exactly which products they should make. This should fall back on what the brand is about and the brand's position. All products designed and manufactured should be in line with a particular goal. For instance, a brand which specializes in electronic hardware should not up and decide to make nutrition products. As well, a hard goods manufacturer would not be best suited for all of a sudden putting out a clothing line. I can think of a couple in the industry who have done this and although it might not cause the demise of a company, it is by no means the most efficient or effective way to do it.

So, back to the retailer. Should a bicycle specific shop start carrying running shoes? For the most part, probably not, but again it depends on a number of factors including location and your clientele. For instance, your bicycle shop is located by a running trail, your clientele is made up of a high percentage of triathletes who use that trail for training, and there aren't any good running shoe stores in your area. Then perhaps you should look into it. Next look at your retail floor space and how much you have to offer for the new shoe section. If you only have a couple styles to chose from, your customers probably won't feel like you know what you are doing or are committed. To that end, you'd better have someone on staff at all times who is VERY knowledgeable in running to sell the shoes, otherwise you risk losing credibility.

I've seen a lot of retailers "try" to get into selling other specialty products. There is no try or try not, it IS do or do not. But always keep in mind your location and who/what your competitors are.

Still need more detailed information about your particular direction?
Darren Zielinski

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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