How Can We Grow The Domestic Market?

by | Aug 8, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Cycling rates in the UK have risen dramatically since the pandemic. However the sale of new bikes has begun to plateau. This is something that we need to do something about if we want cycling rates to continue to grow. We are part of an industry that is able to create positive change in the world, but we can only do that if customers actually engage with our products.

What can actually be done though? Well quite a lot actually, although not all of it can be done by the industry directly. E-bikes are part of a cultural shift towards a more eco-conscious society. It needs to be treated like that too. People don’t just swap to E-bikes there’s factors that cause them to make the change. Whether it’s eco-consciousness or financial or anything else.

The big thing is that we need to be loud. It’s really easy for us to take for granted the benefits of electric bikes when we’re in the industry. Of course they’re greener or of course you get the same health benefits as cycling. But the average consumer isn’t in the industry, they haven’t read all the articles about it. Or worse they’ve read an article that makes electric bikes sound scary, that’s nearly always going to have a bigger impact.

We believe in the power of E-bikes as a positive force for our communities. Because of this we champion their use as much as we can and we’re doing our best to build the industry domestically.

Loud To The Public

As an industry- we need to keep the public educated. It doesn’t matter that we know that most UK journeys are under five miles if consumers don’t. I mean lets be honest when you go to the shop to pick up milk and bread do you say to yourself that’s less than five miles? Most of the time a consumer probably doesn’t even consider how far they’re traveling. By pushing the idea that taking an e-bike 5 miles can actually be easier than the car we can educate consumers.

It’s not the only example of things we take for granted either. How many consumers do you think understand the cost difference between charging an E-bike and fuelling a car? The cost of fuel was a big motivator for people swapping over to electric bikes- traditional bikes too but let’s focus on electric. It has always been cheaper though. Consumers just don’t always know the extent. It’s up to us to tell them.

Really what we need to do in this aspect is use our platform. Keep an updated and SEO friendly blog. It helps build your online presence and lets you educate your customers. Honestly there’s no reason not to keep it updated. Whether you want to talk about the cost saving effect of electric bikes or a full buying guide you can add it there.

Buying guides are important too by the way. Buying an e-bike is confusing when you’re not sure what to look for. By adding a buyers guide to your website you help your customers overcome their anxiety before they give up on the idea completely.

Industry Change

There are problems in the UK industry which prevent us from selling in the same quantities as our European counterparts. The EU is far ahead of us in reshoring with countries like Portugal reinvigorating their bicycle manufacturing. At the moment our industry lags behind.

Failure to reshore means two important things for sales, less bikes and more expensive bikes. People are less inclined to take the risk of an e-bike if they’re new to it at higher price points and supply chain issues mean they can’t always get the bikes they want.

Over reliance on offshore manufacture- not just in the UK either, causes a bottleneck in production. Offshore manufacturers just can’t meet global demand. Order pile up on both the manufacturers and the retailers. Customers have to choose to wait a long time, settle for a bike they don’t really want. Of course there’s the third option, give up and get back in their car.

The lack of supply also means prices are higher, plus the import tariffs and charges. The customer ends up paying for a lot more with an offshored produced bike. Some of them just don’t want to do that. Or they can’t. If the average cost of an e-bike goes above a certain amount a whole section of the population is removed from the potential market.

Reshoring allows us to get rid of importation tariffs and shipping costs. It also allows us to lower lead times and increase supply. In turn this means lower prices or the customer, an expanded market and more consistent cash flow.

Improved Infrastructure

Whether or not someone buys an electric bike is determined by the world around them. What I mean is that if the infrastructure is in place to make it easy for them to cycle they are more likely to do that. It sounds obvious but it’s something we don’t put enough work into as a society.

Our current infrastructure avours cars. Roads are primarily for cars and cycle paths are an addition. Not all roads have cycle paths either. That means that certain roads are less safe to cycle on than others. The truth is that while infrastructure is built in this way less people will cycle.

There are plenty of improvements to cycling infrastructure that could be made but I won’t go into them here. Instead let’s focus on what we can do to improve them, because a lot of them we can’t improve directly. Once again the answer is to be loud. Much like with using our platforms to educate the public we can use our platforms to push for improved infrastructure.

Whether on blogs, on news sites or social media. Taking an active role in making infrastructural change happen is helpful for the industry and the wider community. This is why groups like Sustrans are so important. If you make it easy for people to cycle they will. If you don’t then often they can’t. To encourage electric bike use people need access to cycle lanes and charging points among other things.

We Can Do Better

All of these aspects have improved over time. Consumers do know more about electric bikes than they did a few years ago. And there’s a lot more interest in reshoring these days too. Pushes for more sustainable cities often mean better cycling infrastructure. That’s all great, but we can still do better.

A lot of consumers still don’t know much about electric bikes and the information isn’t always easy to find. And when you do find it it’s not always clear and sometimes articles are contradictory. We can make access easier to find and interpret.

Many of the bikes in the UK are still produced offshore in Asia. Companies still suffer long lead times and higher prices, this bleeds into their customers’ experience. Scaring some of them away from following through with the desire to buy an E-bike. We can lower costs and lead times through reshoring.

Plenty of roads are still in need of cycle lanes, and a lot of places don’t have easy access to public bike chargers. There are areas where cycling an E-bike is just more difficult than it needs to be. We can push for and invest in change to our infrastructure.


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