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On 11 January 2016 at 10:01 | updated on 10 February 2016 at 20:24

Skating Brand Online Shops: The Heralded End of Specialized Shops?

Skating Brand Online Shops: The Heralded End of Specialized Shops?

Rollerblade has announced on its French blog the launching of its online shop. The event may seem insignificant but this brand strategy could have considerable effects on specialized shops and on the overall skating market...

By  Alexandre CHARTIER

For or against?

It's easier to find spare parts online

Roller ShopAt first, as a consumer, you see the fact that it's easier to find the spare parts of a specific model without having to worry about stock availability. Often, shops don't have all the collections of all brands in stock, they order one by one, otherwise the freezing of their treasury would be too important. It's particularly hard now to find a few old models of rubber brakes for example (even if some shops still have collector parts).

Online shops compensate for the lack of local shops

It's also handy to search for a shop online when you don't have any physical shop around or if the local shop doesn't distribute the brand you're looking for... But that would be forgetting that most shops already have online shops that do that very same job.

Online shops compensate the weakness of the distribution network

Sometimes, some brands are not distributed in your country. In that case, online selling is an interesting option for the brand, because it doesn't have to build a physical distribution network. For the customers, they can buy products that are unavailable in their countries.

Specialized skating shops are already online

In France, for shops like Hawaii Surf, Pierre Qui Roule, Nomade shop, Moana or Clic-n-Roll, creating an online shop is an investment of several tenths of thousands of euros, with the website development, animation, updates, etc. They can only be amortized after several years. Then the arrival of a brand offering bargain prices online can very well shake up the economical balance of those shops.

Jobs generated by online shops

Pierre Qui RouleAs mentioned above, specialized skating shops invest and create jobs to maintain their websites: developer, designer, webmaster...

Lower prices for the customers?

Today, specialized shops buy their stocks from the distribution networks of the big skating brands. For example, Powerslide is distributed in France by Trident, CCM by SGE Pasquier, Fila by Templar and Roces by Eurotop Saico. The distributor buys from the brand, applies its profit margin and resells to the shop, which also applies its margin before selling to the client.

Then, if there are less go-betweens, prices should drop... if the brand doesn't make the most of the situation in increasing its margin without benefit for its clients, of course. For spare parts like wheels, the price of which have become so steep, it would be welcome.

A brand can also make the choice of not changing the public price not to create competition with its existing distribution network. It would potentially enable shops to offer slightly more attractive prices, but they will have to squeeze on their margin... Contrary to the brand who will alway sell to the price.

A distorted competition

When you look to the future, what could be the consequences for shops of the spreading of skating brand online shops? What would happen if all the brands chose to sell online?

Without any go-between, brands can even lower their prices to a point where not a single specialized shop could follow, since they would still have to buy from the brand or from its distributor. Whatever happens, shops will always sell products at a higher price than the brands that made them. They are then at the mercy of their suppliers, which have become their most dreadful competition.

Consequences of the disappearance of shops on the market

Even if there are not many physical shops left (in France), their disappearance would have significant consequences. Physical shops makes customer relationships and human connections easier, and highlight the notion of service, that is not available on the Internet.

In a shop you can try products from different brands

With a local shop, you can try different models from different brands in a single place. You won't be disappointed to find out that your skates are too small, too large, too tight or to feel pressure points in opening the package you have ordered on the Internet. Buying in a shop is a better place to compare and limit the risks of being disappointed. You don't have to ship your skates back and wait for another pair to arrive.

Shops know the products from different brands

Florian Masoni chez MoanaMoreover in specialized shops, you can benefit from the experience of the sellers. Most of them are passionate skaters, even competitors. They will know which model to recommend you according to your needs if you hesitate.

Specialized shops make customized set-ups

A specialized skating shop can offer personalized set-ups in mixing parts from different manufacturers... A brand would obviously never put forward products coming from other brands!

Shops: Trend spotters and advisors

Shops are often the driving forces of the market, they know how to spot models that will meet success and those that will have a hard time making a name for themselves. They know the needs of their local customers, which is something a brand can't sense. Specialized shops pass on the feedbacks of the skaters to the brands, which can be taken into account (sometimes) for their next collections.

Shops are always ready to help you out

Who never went back to the shop where they bought their skates to change a buckle, a wheel, or bearings? Specialized shops provide local service that can't be found on the Internet. If you don't know how to change a part, the seller of the shop will often take the time to help you out. That's true client relationship.

Shops: Mains announcers on OLS

More than half of the budget of the online-skating.com association depends on them! They have been the main announcers on the website for 12 years. They have always believed in us. Few are the brands who have done the same. Without the shops, OLS wouldn't have the size it has today, maybe the website would even be dead by now...

Private sales: Presages of virtualization?

Le rayon roller de Hawaii SurfMany brands already use private sales websites to destock their unsold articles, reaching a broader customer base than that of specialized shops in the blink of an eye. A brand told us in confidence that they had sold more skates in a single online sale than on the whole shop distribution network in a year. It's more interesting for a brand to sell with a small margin or sell at a loss than keeping old stocks forever.

Private sales match this logic: Clients get low prices and brands sell their stocks. Of course, when you know the products, those knock-down prices are very attractive... But what will the customers who don't know their equipment do when they have a VAS problem? Who will they turn to to repair their skates?

Buying: a militant act

The act of buying has become so common that we forget how much we weight as consumers. Buying bio, local, buying online, buying in shops, or not buying... All those little details accumulated can create storms at the other end of the planet. You're free to choose the values you stand for... 

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Released  on 11 January 2016 - Read 7121 times

By :
Fondateur et webmaster de rollerenligne.com. Alexandre est un passionné de roller en général et sous tous ses aspects : histoire, économie, sociologie, évolution technologique... Ne le branchez pas sur ces sujets sans avoir une aspirine à portée de main !

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