Industry Strategist endorses BILT app
LAS VEGAS, NV, September 23, 2016 — When Tom Flierl first suggested a few years ago that bicycles could be sold via the internet, he thought someone “might throw a shoe” at him. Last year, when he predicted e-commerce would actually bolster sales at independent bike dealers’ (IBD) brick and mortar stores, he was met with skepticism. But this year, at Interbike 2016, he says “IBDs seem to be embracing the fact that digital is going to be part of the future of the bike industry.” He cautioned that ignoring the trend could be disastrous to both manufacturers and dealers and alerted his audience to what is looming on the horizon:
An industry “Disruption” called BILT.
“B-I-L-T, BILT. They’re here at the convention, I suggest you go find them and see what they can do for you,” said Flierl. The VP of Marketing and Business Strategy at Hanson Dodge Creative showed a 90 second clip of a Mongoose Fat Tire Bike in a box being assembled with BILT instructions. The audience reacted audibly to closeups of the 3D interactive nature of the images made from CAD with visual enterprise software. “Welcome to the future,” said one viewer.
Flierl compared the BILT app to Uber and the taxi industry; suddenly everyone is in the driver’s seat. The app’s interactive 3D instructions make the daunting assembly task so simple and user friendly, it opens up a whole new realm of possibility for consumers and technicians alike.
“Safety is paramount in the bike industry,” said BILT President Ahmed Qureshi. “By providing the ultimate user experience, manufacturers increase safety by ensuring customers have everything they need to do it right. The interactive 3D instructions on BILT guarantee a wildly better assembly and repair experience.”
In Popular Mechanics, Alexander George reviewed Brilliant Bicycle Co.’s Zappos-style approach to e-tailing semi-custom bikes. With no transportation costs or brick and mortar stores, the bikes start at $299. “That’s a lot of bike for the price,” he said, but it comes to your door in a box and must be put together at home. The DIY nature of the Brilliant brand may cause some concern, because “speed, can cause serious injury if it were to, say, fly apart.”
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a bike shop is having technicians to hold accountable for a faulty assembly or part. Although Brilliant recommends their bikes be either assembled or checked at a shop before hitting the road, George admitted he’d “never do that.” Honestly, most people wouldn’t. His ultimate recommendation is qualified with a giant caveat: “The question is whether you trust yourself to assemble it correctly. If you have some savvy, or a friend with a lot of bike knowledge, it’s a hell of a deal,” he said. But what if you don’t?
Well, then there’s BILT.
Bike Assembly Made Easy
The app has proven to cut assembly time in half compared to paper instructions. Often, manuals are written by engineers who have difficulty separating themselves from their own technical knowledge or they simply can’t write in layman’s terms at all. Even worse are manuals translated from other languages. Engrish.com has some hilarious examples, but they’re only funny when you don’t need them; it’s incredibly frustrating when you do. “Manuals suck more than root canals,” said Kyle Wiens, creator of iFixIt.org.
More than once, BILT experience experts have alerted marketing directors to errors within a brand’s paper instructions only to to find they’d never read them before and had no idea who wrote them in the first place. One company’s manuals were affixed with brightly colored stickers that directed consumers to a help page that, in reality, was a dead link. “Consumers only have so much patience with mistakes like that,” said Gina Henderson, Director of Marketing at BILT Inc. “They may get fed up, throw it back in the box, return it to the store and write off the brand.”
Saving Bicycle eTailers
The BILT app also dramatically decreases product returns, which are especially costly to online vendors. It is off-putting to e-tail consumers who may be willing to pay flat rate shipping for products, but are angered when they have to pay expensive return shipping costs and ultimately have nothing to show for it.
The BILT app is free to consumers and technicians on iOS and Android. Manufacturers may alternately opt to provide password-restricted access for their service technicians. That translates to 100% reach for training updates or new product instructions.
The BILT team talked to dozens of brands at Interbike and learned that many are seeking to increase sales online. Ironically, even though bicycle buyers, as a whole, are highly digital (they spend more money online and are more likely to make an online purchase than the average consumer) the industry has fallen behind the e-tailing curve and “needs to evolve to better serve consumers,” says Flierl. Currently, although e-commerce makes up about 8% of total retail, it’s as low as 3% in the bike industry.
As bicycle manufacturers enlarge their online presence, the BILT app can help brands provide an exceptional consumer experience in assembly, maintenance and repair, without the sticker price of a retail store. To learn more, contact us today!