Posted by: craw
Posted by: tashi
Yep, the distributor system is a major drag on the industry up here.
I could see how they were useful in the past but now? It's just as easy to send something for service in California as it is in Colorado so I really don't know what customers need 'em for. I think they offer a little more value to shops (warranty support and product knowledge training?) but it seems like the shops looking to survive in the future in the face of easy access to information and fast/good mail order should perhaps be looking for a way to cut out the middleman. They're customers already are, and lagging behind your customers is never a good idea.
I know way more than more most bike stores when it comes to the peculiar stuff I've been studying for weeks online. What they do offer is actual boots on the ground local knowledge of what parts and setups are working for people under various conditions, etc. That kind of information in super valuable in tempering your research and I'll always work with my local shop to get it.
I agree that I will probably have more knowledge on the specific / perhaps not 100% mainstream product that I have been examining on online than the LBS will. When attempting to discuss said item at the LBS to get real world feedback, I more often then not get met with "I havent heard of that before' or 'we dont deal with that product'. Rarely will I get 'we can look into that for you and get back to you' , but instead often get fed mis-information or biased attitude. I dont expect them to be experts on every fine detail of the crazy bike world, but some effort in understanding or continuing the conversation would make a world of difference. I was recently told while attempting to source some RF crank spacers (for a 30mm cinch crankset with a CK PF30 BB), that 'no one uses those' and that 'they are dangerous and shouldn't be used'. That is not only not true (as RF makes the product specifically for this purpose), but is also not helpful in keeping the customer engaged. I walked out and ordered them online and got them 3 days later.