MORGAN HILL, CA (BRAIN)— Specialized president Mike Sinyard is warning the company’s retailers to beware of Amazon.com’s incursions into the bike market.
Sinyard sent a letter to dealers Tuesday evening to bring their attention to Amazon’s Price Check app, a smart-phone application that allows consumers to scan a bar code from a product in a store and then order it immediately from Amazon. It raises the specter of customers trying on shoes in a bike shop and then buying them, presumably for a lower price, from Amazon.
“Who loses in this situation?” Sinyard asks in the letter. “Certainly not Amazon. And — at least in the short term — not the cycling brands selling through bike shops and Amazon. But what about you?
“By buying product from brands that severely undercut you, you are supporting your competition. Why finance your own demise?”
Sinyard said Pearl Izumi, Shimano, Louis Garneau, Giro, Bell, Fizik, Sidi and CatEye all “participate” in the program. Representatives from those companies were not immediately available to comment, but their products are available from Amazon.
Amazon's public relations department did not respond to multiple requests for comment. BR&IN did speak last week with Paul Calandrella, who left Specialized last month to join Amazon.
Calandrella, who doesn’t start at Amazon until January 9, said that Amazon saw cycling as “a growth area.”
“Cycling is still on the uptick for them and they see more opportunity out there across the board … I don’t have the sense that they are targeting the bike market; the company is growing in general, there is a fair amount of hiring. The focus is on the consumer and the goal is to represent the best products and a broad selection of products.”
A video demonstration
Sinyard also sent dealers a link to a Specialized video about the app. In the video a bike shop employee helps a young man try on a Bell helmet. The man then scans the helmet's bar code and orders it from Amazon.
Specialized and Bell have a particularly rocky relationship lately. Easton-Bell Sports (through its Giro brand) sued Specialized earlier this year, alleging unfair business practices, then dropped the suit.
Easton-Bell Sports’ senior vice president of global sales, Bernie Doering, said he had seen Sinyard's letter and the video. He declined to comment but said a company representative would release a statement later.
Amazon’s complete bicycle selection includes brands that are typically sold through sporting goods and department stores, including Diamondback and the Kent International GMC brand.
Amazon’s parts and accessories offerings, however, include brands that independent bike retailers stock, including Sidi shoes, Bell and Giro helmets, Pearl izumi clothing and Shimano parts.
Watch Bicycle Retailer & Industry News for more on this story this week.
— Steve Frothingham