Guest editorial by Fred Clements, executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association. Interbike is a full partner and funding resource for the NBDA.
From Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, August 15, 2011, page 38.
Numbers don’t lie: Dealers still find Interbike relevant
Despite the many options dealers have today to see new products, the majority plan to make the journey to Las Vegas next month. That’s the takeaway from the latest survey by the National Bicycle Dealers Association. In fact, 85 percent of dealers said they find some or great relevance in Interbike. The online study, conducted by Harvey Research, elicited 1,100 responses.
In its 30th year, Interbike continues to be the biggest single trade event in North America for independent bicycle dealers. When Steve Ready started Interbike in 1982, regional trade shows were common and there were usually at least three annually. After consolidation and some turmoil, Interbike emerged as the one big show that would meet a dealer’s needs at a convenient time and place.
And Interbike remains their first choice today, even with options like consumer events, some with a trade component, niche trade events, and private company events produced by Trek, Specialized, Quality Bicycle Products and others.
Why so much support? Why do 71% of past attendees call Interbike a “must attend” event, and 62% call it “a highlight of my business year”?
According to the survey, dealers come in such large numbers to:
- See new products, equipment, technology and services. Of the retailers surveyed, 92 percent gave this as a reason. Interbike is either effective or very effective in this regard, with 80 percent of the respondents saying so.
- Keep up to date with industry trends (78 percent). Interbike allows all companies to exhibit and gives dealers free reign to explore the marketplace without any one company or agenda running the show.
- To see existing suppliers (79 percent).
- Maintain and build relationships and networking (78 percent).
- Find new suppliers (75 percent). A surprising 50 percent report that they have a major problem with “suppliers whose actions and policies are not in the retailers’ best interest.” Another 35 percent consider this a minor problem, but still a problem. Finding partners whose values align with yours is a central task for any independent business. Interbike “consistently draws the major players,” giving dealers options, according to 75 percent of the respondents.
- Compare competing products (54 percent). While it is important to understand the products in your store, knowing the competition can be a big help in the sales process.
- Access education and training (49 percent). There are more and a greater variety of seminars and tech clinics at Interbike than at any other industry event.
- See or participate in product demos (45 percent). The Outdoor Demo has added a dimension that allows direct comparison of bicycles in the field. This goes well beyond spec and speaks to the experience itself.
- Meet with vendor executives (45 percent). Working with sales staff is fundamental. Engaging upper management allows more strategic issues to be addressed.
- See new products first reviewed online (45 percent). A majority of retailers also said that Interbike helps them “stay ahead of the consumer” (76 percent).
- Make purchases (36 percent). Even with many companies pushing for earlier ordering commitments, only 22 percent of dealer orders are finalized prior to Interbike. More than half of respondents (59 percent) said Interbike is important for confirming their final mix of preseason orders.
The numbers speak for themselves. Interbike is still perceived as a smart investment by a majority of dealers. And attendance figures back this up, with thousands spending their own time and money to attend every year, voting with their feet. As one Northern California dealer recently told me, “I do think of Interbike as our show.”
Still, there is no show without dealers. So, I urge every independent bicycle dealer to make the trip to Las Vegas this year. It’s a good use of time and money.