Factories re-open with sharp increase in orders from dealers; labor and logistics issues are impacting sales.
A tale of Switching Professions:
Sachit Kocchar had a successful Travel Agency business in Delhi before the nationwide lockdown was implemented. The novel coronavirus shut flight operations, cancelled holiday plans and brought tourism business to a halt.
Having suffered revenue losses and with no sight of recovery in the Travel category anytime soon, Sachit collaborated with two friends – Ajay Mittal who ran a Plywood business and Neeraj Gupta, an Interior designer to open a Cycle Shop. One of the partners owned a spare space in west Delhi, which the trio converted into a multi-brand store called ‘Cycling World’.
Sachit says “Our shop was inaugurated on 15th August and in just 2 months, we have got an overwhelming response. Being new into cycle trade, we had never anticipated such hectic days buzzing with crowds”.
Cycling World is primarily focusing on Indian brands and promoting business through relationship marketing. Every Sunday, members from cycling clubs gather at the storefront and do rides with adherence to all safety guidelines.
Sachit, who himself has been into cycling since last 15 years reveals “The connections made in the process are helping me now; we are getting a lot of business via referrals”.
The shop owners are providing perks and value added services to clients such as complimentary breakfast on Sunday rides, a coffee machine in the shop, seating arrangements, and a ten-minute compulsory training on a Indoor Trainer – explaining ‘how to use gears’ to every buyer. Test ride facility is created in the lawn so that customers are fully satisfied with the product.
Sachit adds “We are in the middle of a huge transition in public lifestyle behavior and lucky to be a part of the ongoing cycling revolution. Cycling World delivers on all the small nuances of consumer journey, which I personally felt devoid-off as a customer”.
Limited choices in the market:
When Prajesh went to a shop in Mumbai to buy a new cycle for his daughter, he had to struggle to find one of her choice. “I was looking for a particular hybrid geared cycle and visited several shops but it was out of stock. I made an advance payment to the shop owner, and he called me two weeks later and suggested couple of models out of which I had to settle with one” says Prajesh.
Cycling industry is witnessing an unforeseen demand as more people are exploring outdoor activities. Even though Gyms and Clubs have resumed services, people are remodeling their training plans.
Manish Natekar, a media professional in Mumbai who started cycling during Unlocking phase explains “I was always a Gym freak and spent 2 hours a day, 6 days a week in health clubs during Pre-Covid days. But seven months of lockdown restrictions and closure of fitness centers compelled me to rejig my training program. Cycling has added a lot of variation to my training needs and allowed me to be outdoors and de-stress from home sickness”.
A global surge in demand, coupled with factories yet to operate in full capacities, labor shortage and rise in exports has added to delay in supplies.
Meanwhile, bicycle sales in India have jumped two-fold in last five months.
Aman Preet Singh from Kota, in Rajasthan booked a cycle in October and is expecting to receive the delivery by December.
Likewise, Srinath Gupta in Bangalore booked a Hybrid bike in September and if everything goes well, he should be able to ride it by end of the year.
Another aspiring cyclist from Mumbai, Rishabh Bhojania booked a Trek FX1 but he will have to wait longer as the delivery date is shifted from December to February 2021.
Siddharth Vohra, owner of Kohinoor Cycles in Mumbai explains “We have an extraordinary peak in daily footfalls and customers are proactively willing to pay advance however, there are unexpected ambiguities emerged at manufacturers end on account of insufficient availability of components such as group-sets. We have stopped accepting bookings because of ‘Commitment crises’. Now, even single speed bikes are flying-off bicycle racks”.
A new found craze in cycling and rise in cycling groups on social media is resulting into peer influence. People who had a bicycle lying unattended for years in their corridors are now queuing up at shops to recondition them.
Siddharth adds “I have a 15 day waiting period for servicing and a number of bikes for repair in my warehouse. To handle a huge list of service requests, I had to hire new technicians and even sponsored their flight tickets to come and assist me”.
Jasmheer Sahni, Owner of ‘Sardar Cycles’ in Mumbai, a 1944 family run cycle shop disclosed “There is massive demand for geared Hybrid bikes. Last week, I received a shipment of Schnell and the entire stock got sold out within 48 hours. Customers coming-up with specific requests are being advised to wait”.
In the case of Daniel Paulson, getting home an adult size Schenll bike for himself was like hitting a jackpot. Daniel explains “I took up cycling in lockdown and was using my sister’s B-twin. My friends pointed out to me the hazards of using a wrong frame size” he said. Daniel reached out to dealers for a Trek Dual Sport 2 as his 1st choice. “I was told the waiting period is 3 to 4 months. So, I switched my preference and inquired about Firefox Roadrunner Pro D which again was out of stock. Finally, I got in touch with a dealer in Ahmadabad city, and he shipped the bike to Mumbai by road transport”.
Shimano restructuring Supply Chain:
Yozo Shimano, President of the 99-year-old company in its latest financial statement spoke about realignment of supply chain structure in the wake of factory shut downs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking alongside the release of its Q1 results, Shimano had told local news agencies in Japan “The factory shutdowns have forced Shimano to rethink its supply chain. While much of the company’s products are made entirely at a single plant, production that required cross-regional work was impacted during the pandemic. “Like all the other manufacturing companies, we want to take this opportunity to revisit our supply chain,” he said.
Commenting about the surge in uptake of bicycles in the US and the Europe markets, Shimano added “People are realizing how effective a bicycle can be. They are moving away from crowds and looking for space, even in transit.”
Even though Shimano took a hit to production when factories in Singapore and Malaysia shut down, the CEO said he’s optimistic of a recovery later in the current year.
Author: Vijay Malhotra Mumbai