You are here

Guest Editorial by Giant's JT Thompson: Yes, we suffer now. This too shall pass.

Published November 9, 2023

Editor's note: A version of this guest editorial ran in the November issue of BRAIN. The print version had to be shortened slightly for space; this is the complete version. 

I would like to take this opportunity to share our brand vision for retailers and riders alike. More importantly, I want to emphasize our belief in human connection and the retail network we operate with; plus celebrate all retailers who drive the cycling life in America.

The industry is seemingly making a panicked conversion to transactional sales. Brands (and some retailers) are influenced by the models of Amazon and Direct Brands as a potential fix. We are an experiential user-based business model and there is no quick fix for people who ride their bikes weekly.

In our opinion, riders need service at all levels when they actually ride their bike regardless of engagement level. Transactional sales are not in the best interest of the rider. If the rider is not serviced and happy, there is no sustainable business.

Most brands are or have moved to transactional sales during the pandemic, revealing their true nature! Retailers who forge partnerships with supportive suppliers are more likely to endure the culling of the herd that is taking place in all retail segments.

Retailers, especially those in a business rooted in the user experience, are largely ill-equipped to act like a distributor. The best retailers continue to educate, connect, support, and most of all service the cyclist to ride.

The retailers who do not connect are no different than Amazon. Specialty bike retail clearly can’t compete for transactional sales for the same product with the likes of Amazon or a cycling brand with direct distribution. Therefore, the sustainable bicycle retailer needs to do better and more intimately to win.

“Bicycle Retailer” defined:

• A cycling business that shares the details: educates, tells stories and inspires clients.

• A cycling business that identifies the need, fulfills the machine and gear most often from retail stock (sometimes from favored supplier stock) to provide a happy and safe ride experience. This is not taking orders. Rather, it’s selling and influencing the favored partnership which is most beneficial for retail success.

• A cycling business that services: keeps people riding their machines, inspires more people to ride, and most importantly endeavors to make lifelong cyclists.

• A cycling business that makes a difference in people's lives to improve health, happiness, improve the planet, and reduce congestion.

• A cycling store that makes money to sustain itself and focuses to work most often with supportive suppliers who do not undermine retail efforts or compete for the same customer.

We find it harmful when Giant Group is lumped in with the other brands from Wisconsin, Northern California and Europe. Let us be crystal clear: our Giant-branded stores are completely independently owned and operated; we are indebted to those key customers as they give the ultimate support to Giant Group. We have done our utmost to uplift our entire retail family (Giant Retail Partner and Authorized) regardless of market conditions.

GIANT STANDS WITH RETAILERS – Our consistent and long-term action plan:
Our retail partners come first because our retail partners’ health is our health. To say we are hyper-focused and on super-high alert to support the RETAILER in this challenging time is an understatement.

How we embody Retail Support:

• We are focused on selling retail inventory first and foremost through Workstand (formerly SmartEtailing).

• We only fulfill bike orders through our independent bicycle retailers.

• We share 100% (online) margin with stocking retailers and credit accounts monthly.

• We compensate retailers for home delivery.

• We are a top-tier realized margin brand.

• We provide premium bicycles which we make that employ superior materials to the highest quality standards in this industry for all types of riders.

• We do not compete with our retailers. Instead, we cheer them forward.

Where others are planting their corporate-owned retail footprint in markets lifted by retailers, or making action to navigate D2C, and mining the same employees and customers that support the local retailer, we continue to exclusively align with retailers who will partner and know their market best.

In our opinion, the retailers are the true workhorses of this business! Retailers weather the frontline challenges daily, and we know that’s one heck of a contest. It’s time for retail folks to stand up and stop supporting suppliers that threaten their existence.

We believe a large group of retailers have a serious case of Stockholm syndrome. Only retailers can change the transactional dynamic with their most powerful vote – their money and support. We are certainly not perfect, but one thing is crystal-clear, we are more retail-centric than all of our key competitors combined.

Retailers have the option to support brands that support retail. We think it’s time bike retailers stand up.

In our opinion, the stores that will win will have suppliers in their corner to nurture the relationship with riders and help retail thrive – that is the soul of Giant/Liv/Momentum/CADEX, and the bicycle retailer will always come first! We are riders and former retailers who serve retailers. Stand tall, be a service and experience leader.

Thompson began his cycling life at 14 sweeping shop floors and emptying the trash. After an elite-level road and track racing career, his industry jobs have included National Sales Manager stints with both Trek and Specialized. He is currently General Manager at Giant USA.

Join the Conversation