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Felt rolls out Customer Connect online sales program

Published December 12, 2017
Company says it wants to remove barriers to purchase but keep retailers involved in the customer experience.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Felt Bicycles rolled out its Customer-Connect online sales program to dealers on Monday. The Southern California bike company, purchased by Rossignol Group early this year, said customers will now be able to purchase a bike on the Felt website, which will be delivered by their local Felt retailer.

Buyers will have two options on the Felt site: To go the Buy Local Now route and see if a local shop has the bike they want in stock on Felt's website, or they can purchase it from the Felt website and Felt will ship the bike to their local dealer, who will assemble and deliver it.

The company found that less than 1 percent of total bikes sold in North America are sold online

Felt will provide credit to a dealer's account immediately upon purchase of the bike. The company also said that any bikes purchased through Felt's site and delivered through a local dealer will count toward that store's annual product commitments or preseason.

Felt notified retailers about Customer Connect through a dealer letter Monday. Felt sales reps also notified dealers by phone last week. All authorized Felt dealers will be listed on Felt's website as local delivery stores for online purchases.

Felt VP of global sales and marketing Adam Micklin said the company analyzed various direct and online sales programs to determine how to model its program.

"We think the IBD is an integral part of the business model," said Micklin. "We looked at programs out there. We felt that if a Felt customer wants a bike they need to have access to it, but it still needs to be consistent with our business. It needs to be the right bike with the right fit, and that happens through the dealer."

Felt dealers will earn a commission for every bike sold on Felt's website that they deliver to a customer. The tiered commission structure benefits gold level dealers over silver and bronze and standard dealers. The bike buyer pays a flat fee to ship the bike to the retailer.

According to Felt's research in preparing to roll out this program, the company found that less than 1 percent of total bikes sold in North America are sold online. And most of those bikes are under $500 suggested retail.

However, the company said Customer Connect is a way to break down barriers to buying for customers who are researching online and to provide access to product.

"Customers vote with their dollars," said Tyler Meyers, who conducted analysis for Felt in preparation for the roll out and who has since joined the company as international sales manager. "The fact that they're researching the product online and if they choose to purchase it online we don't want to say, 'you can't.' We want to have a program and operational support to deliver the bike consistent with their expectation.

"It's removing barriers to access but also saying, 'we want you to work with the retailer because that's where you get the best fit, or if you have questions or need service,'" he added.

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