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Orbea Rolls Out Online Sales Strategy

Published October 31, 2011

LITTLE ROCK, AR (BRAIN)—On the heels of its 10th anniversary, Orbea USA will begin selling its bikes online for the first time through three new e-commerce platforms slated to launch over the next three months.

Starting Nov. 15, Orbea will be available through online retailers Competitive Cyclist, Real Cyclist, Huck n Roll and Trisports.com in order to expose the brand to a wider audience. At the same time, Orbea will launch a new retail partner program allowing a handful of elite, long-term Orbea dealers to sell bikes on their shop websites. The first partner is Salt Lake City’s Contender Bicycles, Orbea’s largest single-store retailer for the past decade, and the company envisions authorizing about five more shops by the end of next year, said Tony Karklins, Orbea’s managing director.

“We’ve seen so many brands make that jump to these online-only guys and they never gave their very best IBD guys the same opportunity,” Karklins said. “We can’t make that jump if we don’t empower the people who got us there.”

In January, Orbea will also begin selling to consumers through its own website, orbea.com, for pick up at any Orbea dealer of their choice within 100 miles. Orbea’s website captures the transaction, and ships the bike to the dealer if it’s not in stock. The program is designed to ensure retailers make full margin on the sale.

Karklins said Orbea considered various online fulfillment programs, but determined handling the transaction internally would be the most fair and transparent method to all its 450 U.S. dealers. The company plans to staff a new customer service center at its Arkansas headquarters to handle consumer inquiries.

Orbea will only sell inline product on the Internet and will enforce strict pricing policies across the board. Karklins has been mulling an online strategy for several years and closely tracking the online progression of every adult brand in the IBD network. Currently, 45 of the 50 top brands have an e-commerce strategy, and Orbea didn’t want to be left behind.

“We needed it to grow; we needed it to stimulate our brand,” he said. “Ten years ago, the Internet was a nuisance to retail. Now it is a critical part of retail. We look forward to the challenges ahead and to the opportunity to lead our loyal dealers into the future.”

Karklins estimates Orbea will gain about 10 percent in sales by expanding online, but could lose about 10 percent from existing dealers that don’t want to participate in the program.

—Nicole Formosa
nformosa@bicycleretailer.com

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