LBS vs internet pricing

by thebungle   June 20, 2013  

I'm very lucky, the LBS in my new town is fantastic, decent selection, friendly staff and always happy to chat if it's quiet, my wife has bought a bike from them and I've bought a set of wheels and numerous other consumables.

My reason for posting is that when looking for a new cassette and tyres they are asking for full retail, £44 vs £25 per tyre and £54 vs £35 for the cassette, very frustrating especially as the usual internet suspects will have it to me next day.

Now I fully understand the cost of running a business having had one ourselves but at the same time when faced with giving the best part of £60 extra to the shop or keeping it in my pocket I know what I'd rather do.

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My LBS will often knock something off if asked and sometimes match internet prices. If someone is buying a decent bike they may throw in the pedals or some nice shoes for free, but it's discretionary.

You could either:

1. Buy them online in the knowledge that you've already given the LBS a good amount of cash.

or

2. Take the web prices into the shop and say "I prefer to buy stuff from you but the differences are significant. Can you do anything for me?"

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
20th June 2013 - 21:13

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And if we all did that someone would post asking where all the LBS have gone and complaining about having to shop at Halfords.

Try a bit of haggling or view the additional cost as an investment in the future for when you need some help which you can't get from the internet.

You pays your money and you face the consequences.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [619 posts]
20th June 2013 - 21:14

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Are we so accustomed to heavy discounts in the cycling world that people are shocked when shops charge the RRP for something?

posted by Jordan Gibbons [4 posts]
20th June 2013 - 22:06

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Simon's suggestion looks good. If it doesn't work out...

I had similar issue earlier. Needed new chain and cassette, LBS quoted full rrp + service fee to fix, total about £100. Wiggle price was half that. I checked with the LBS, and they declined to fit wiggle bought parts, for a fee.

Result: I bought all needed tools, cassette and chain from wiggle (Total bill £85), and fitted them myself. In the process, I now have a set of tools, skills to change a cassette and chain, and still a saving of £15. We're a 4 bike household, so those skills learnt and tools acquired are possibly even more useful to me.

So that's another way to look at things.

PS: I live in/around London, so those pleas of disappearing bike shops are not entirely dear to me.

middlering's picture

posted by middlering [41 posts]
21st June 2013 - 0:07

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My LBS will get me in parts and other things I struggle to get ahold of online because I have a recumbent, its not cheap, but its easier and because I live next door to the owner, I get a decent discount.

But sometimes I go in and I'm looking for something, they just say, you might aswell get it online because we can't even it for cheaper at cost price.

So they play fair and I keep going back

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8859 posts]
21st June 2013 - 1:16

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My LBS is fair. What I haven't seen so far is PROMOTE YOUR LBS. I ride for my LBS as well, but I try to send people there because I'm confident they'll be treated right.

They understand I'm a cash-strapped college student, and I buy about 50% from them. My mechanic told me yesterday to buy a brooks saddle online.

If you send people to your LBS, you're making them more than any petty cash they may lose to the internet.

[custom] '12 Cannondale CAAD10 - Rival

badkneestom's picture

posted by badkneestom [129 posts]
21st June 2013 - 2:40

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I prefer to use my local shop if I can. The internet can't repair my bike if there's something I can't fix. Okay, it is a bit cross-subsidizing the repair side of things. But it to make sure there's a decent repair shop nearby.

And besides, if I don't use it, it'll probably close down and be turned into a fast food / betting shop.

posted by Argos74 [295 posts]
21st June 2013 - 6:46

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I dont mind paying a little bit more at my local shop and over the years they have got to know me. This paid off because a few weeks ago two days before the surrey sussex scramble my rear hub went. Frantic call to lbs resulted in get it in here quick and we will get it repaired for you some how today. To there credit they did and I was squeezed I am sure for a being a regular because I know someone else tried to book in some work that day and were told the workshop was full. Yes you pay a little bit more but get to know the guys and build up a relationship and you get a better service and when you need them in a crisis as above they will come up trumps.

posted by Saint Mikie 41 [37 posts]
21st June 2013 - 7:26

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I stopped using a not so LBS after they quoted me a 4-5 day waiting period and 25% more than internet prices. Only for an order from one of the big internet companies to arrive whilst I was in the shop.

My main beef with LBS is that some only want to sell big ticket stuff and expect you to suck up the inflated prices of the smaller consumerables.

I may not want to buy a new £2K bike each year, however the cost of two new tyres, chain, brake pads, chainrings, energy bars and gels, cables, oils and grease, degreaser, bar tape.... very quickly adds up. I don't mind paying a little more, but being charged £1:80 for energy gels that cost £1 on the net. People often say customer service is missing from the interenet, it's short in some shops as well. Trying to sell you something you have made clear you don't want, stating they will call once in or ready but not and then kicking off because it was ready earlier. Quoting one price for a job which some how doubles plus VAT.

I fully understand that shops can not stock everything but why should customers wait longer for an item to arrive, pay more and have to drive/travel to the shop? When they can order on line often get it cheaper and within 2 days of placing the order on the door mat.

IMHO Shops generally need to change business model and aim to get more footfall and lots of little spends/customer loyalty rather than focusing on the big ticket items.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [293 posts]
21st June 2013 - 9:27

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This is always going to be a tricky one. Last winter I got a price for chain/ sprocket/ chainrings and seperate fitting fee; then proceeded to buy the stuff on line for half the price. Although I did cough up for a small tool kit, but then I fitted/ adjusted (sort of...) the stuff myself. And I have some tools for next time! For me its a question of money I have available to spend (or not), although I did not factor in my own "labour rate".

Comrade's picture

posted by Comrade [148 posts]
21st June 2013 - 12:46

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Sometimes I need parts now, so it's a trip to the guys at my LBS in the knowledge that I may pay a few quidover the odds but that's the price of convenience. Other times I can wait and know what I'm after so the internet works well.

Handily my LBS also has a website and I can check their prices against others (and order stuff from them too), in contrast to the OP they can be the cheapest! They also have a free card to get internet prices on shop stuff too, so I get the best of both!

posted by madhouse [38 posts]
21st June 2013 - 13:24

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
People often say customer service is missing from the internet, it's short in some shops as well.

It certainly is.

While I always try to support my LBSs - shout-outs here to Keep Pedalling in Manchester, Urban Cyclery in Swansea and Putney Cycles in London (I realise that's quite a geographical spread for'L'BSs, but each have been good to me) - many seem to offer a killer combination of high prices and surly/can't-be-bothered attitude.

On my sh!t list are: Harry Hall Cycles (sorry for wasting your time with my questions, which you made clear were stupid and inane), North West Mountain Bike Centre (apologies for daring to enter your shop without an encylopaedic knowledge of bicycle maintenance) and Withington Cycles ('lost' original service booking, then when actually taken in, was finished late - so two half-days of holiday wasted).

BTW, Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op and, yes, Evans have both always given me high-quality service - from staff who know their stuff - and good prices (apart from their overpriced rates for servicing). So there's space for these specialist chains as well.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1098 posts]
21st June 2013 - 13:32

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
I fully understand that shops can not stock everything but why should customers wait longer for an item to arrive, pay more and have to drive/travel to the shop? When they can order on line often get it cheaper and within 2 days of placing the order on the door mat.

IMHO Shops generally need to change business model and aim to get more footfall and lots of little spends/customer loyalty rather than focusing on the big ticket items.

I am willing to bet that you have never tried to run a small business.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1965 posts]
21st June 2013 - 14:28

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Was looking for some new summer tyres. Was just about to order them from Ribble at a great price when my conscious got the better of me.
I popped down to my LBS (which isnt very local but ive used him since i was a kid and he built my bike for me - Rick Green in Handforth - quick plug).
Told him my dilemma.
He offered my an alternative, comparable tyre - he sold them to me pretty much at cost price. I saved over £10 on the internet price i was going to pay and took the tyres home with me there and then.
Didnt have to sit on my laptop trawling the internet for the best price - didnt have to wait in for a delivery - had a little cheeky ride out - had a nice chat whilst i was there - bought some lube too.
Happy days.
He knows i will be loyal to him - i know i can count on him in future. I doubt Wiggle give a shit about my loyalty.

posted by Some Fella [762 posts]
21st June 2013 - 16:19

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Simon E wrote:
Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
I fully understand that shops can not stock everything but why should customers wait longer for an item to arrive, pay more and have to drive/travel to the shop? When they can order on line often get it cheaper and within 2 days of placing the order on the door mat.

IMHO Shops generally need to change business model and aim to get more footfall and lots of little spends/customer loyalty rather than focusing on the big ticket items.

I am willing to bet that you have never tried to run a small business.

Maybe he hasn't, but as a very rough outline for a bricks-and-mortar independent retail business model is not that bad. And some shops do seem to manage it and thrive (N.B. location is a big issue too).

I used to work in the book trade, which has been even more drastically affected by the online world; those bookshops that have survived are the ones that have done at least the first part of what Yorkshire Whippet has said.

For the LBS, it's even more about quality of service and openness to customers who are new to cycling. The shop I use does both of these well, so I time my replacement/upgrade part purchases to tie in with my thrice-yearly service, as I know they'll fit them properly (fitting cost inclusive in the service) and I'm happy to pay RRP for the parts as a result. That to me represents good value in terms of time and anguish I've spared myself of having to e.g. fit a new bottom bracket.

Arguably I should be abe to do this myself. Fact is, I'm not practically-minded, don't have the tools (or particularly the space) at home and I like the magical treat of dropping off my tired and weary machine at the start of the work day, then picking it up again at 5:30 to race home on what feels like a brand new bike.

I'm happy (ace bike), LBS is happy (sales + satisfied customer) Big Grin

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1098 posts]
21st June 2013 - 16:40

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Your Lbs is not gonna be able compete with the internet across the board on everything, but most hook up with specific wholesalers or distributers who know the value of keeping the grass routes going. Whilst they may not be able to price match a specific product, they'll probably be able to do as near as damn it on something similar. Personal acquisitions recently have been a high viz and lights that were pretty much bang on internet prices. Last year I even bought a bike through my lbs for £250 less than you can get it off the web... still. Other items have been more, but then you're also paying for the ability to easily return and pre purchase advise etc. Use it or lose it.

posted by Steveal [27 posts]
21st June 2013 - 17:24

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When all the bike shops have closed down and the Internet retailers put their prices up where are you gonna get yer cheap gear from then?.

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
21st June 2013 - 18:15

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Most bike shops around here I would not touch with a shitty stick.

However, Terrys cycles in Yate are really great. Big Grin I use them a lot. I still buy stuff off the internet. (Webbs of Warmley, seem good too)

Just for info if you live in Bristol Smile

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
21st June 2013 - 20:15

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University cycles, cambridge, charges retail for bikes, but almost nothing for servicing and close to cost for replacement parts.
Result: Happy customers who buy their bikes from the shop and return to keep in touch, to buy bits and pieces from the shop and show some brand loyalty.

This only works because he only fixes bikes bought from the shop - not useful for everyone, but does work as a business model.

posted by tao24 [41 posts]
21st June 2013 - 23:46

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