Are Specialized bike sales going direct to consumer in US & UK?

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As early as next week, you may be able to go online to the Specialized website, pick out the bike of your choice, and have it delivered straight to your doorstep… direct to consumer. Well, maybe? Specialized has apparently announced some new ways that cyclists will be able to buy their bikes in video calls to dealers earlier this week, proposing two all-new options that will ship a new bike straight to your home.

But from talks we’ve had with Specialized dealers, the new direct-to-consumer program may be quite limited at first, with the possibility of expanding over time…

Specialized bikes go direct to consumer

Specialized kids bike, direct to consumer

c. Specialized, lead photo by Wout Beel at last year’s TdF

Reported overnight on BRAIN, BikeBiz & CyclingIndustry.news, amongst other trade news platforms, word in the bike shop is that Specialized is expanding their current online purchase/in-store pickup program to allow for new home deliveries, in addition to similar home delivery service already available to parents purchasing a Specialized Kid’s bike in the US.

A Specialized dealer we’ve spoken with confirmed that this was the news as delivered earlier this week via a Zoom call with Specialized. In fact, we’ve been told this will start in a very limited manner with only one or two adult bike lines available direct, as Specialized tests the waters to dial in their assembly process and consumer-direct bike box. As we’ve seen with other brands, the ability for a consumer to simply open the box and get riding with a few simple adjustments is key to the consumer-direct process running smoothly.

specialized headquarters factory tour - mountain bike design and development center

New bike buyers will ultimately be able to still buy a bike conventionally by dropping into their local Specialized dealer. Or they can still pick their new bike out online, and find a nearby shop with it in stock, for an in-person sale. You can also purchase the bike online, to be shipped to a local Specialized dealer for setup & pickup, as is also currently available. New to the options is the ability to buy the bike online for home delivery. The bike will be pre-assembled by Specialized, who will then likely just remove the front wheel, handlebar & seatpost to pack it into a box for delivery. Buyers will get a ‘mostly assembled’ bike like they would from most consumer-direct bike companies, with minimal additional setup required. Or lastly, buy the bike online, and have it delivered fully set up, ready to ride in a  concierge-style service provided by a local Specialized dealer (like many mobile bike shops offer for smaller bike brands).

The rumor is that both new home delivery options will cost the same for the end-consumer, with the only difference being if your local bike shop gets paid for that sale, setup & service.

If you need warranty service, your local Specialized bike shop will still be the go-to, for which they will be reimbursed from Specialized. Then, the local shop can also handle future regular maintenance needs independently. For one of the dealers we spoke to, this was actually their biggest concern though—having to provide the warranty service for bikes purchased online with less-than-adequate rates in their opinion. However, in the same time frame as the DTC announcement, Specialized also introduced their new “Specialized Service Charter” to dealers which intends to standardize labor rates with retailers to keep both the customer and the shops happy.

Consumer-direct home delivery is expected to first be made available in the US & UK markets. And it’s not clear when it might be expanded to more bike models or more markets.

While it’s likely a bit of a surprise for your local bike shop, the writing has been on the wall for some time. Specialized is really just responding to pressure from both the growing crop of consumer-direct only brands and other traditional bike companies that added direct-to-consumer sales on top of conventional in-store sales.

specialized headquarters tour

We’ve also reached out to Specialized for more information on how the process will work, when exactly it will take effect, and how it will affect different levels of independent bike dealers, Concept shops, and Specialized-owned locations.

We’ll share more details when we know more.

Specialized.com

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