It’s the Experience: Retail is Dead. Long Live Retail.

  • August 21, 2017
  • Scott

John Wachunas’ article on Medium is fantastic: Retail is Dead: Austin’s Cycleast And The Economics Of 5-Star Customer Service. And at the same time, captures some of the Zeitgeist of Austin.

In it, he describes the perils of retail today. But he could be talking about any business.  Organic groceries.  Banking. Restaurants. Software.  Consulting. Consumer Products. Electronics.

“Retail is dead,” Russell Pickavance tells me, without hesitation. “Literally.” There’s a brief pause as he strategically frames his thoughts within the context of the article in which they’re destined to appear.

The two of us are seated behind the front desk at Cycleast in Austin, the dog sleeping next to a nearby tool chest a testament to this Monday morning’s unhurried pace. Outside, the commanding Texas sun has just laid waste to a retreating garrison of late November clouds. As if on cue, the archaic but undeniably cool neighborhood of East Cesar Chavez creeps to life.

Russell continues: “A better way to put it would be, the internet has won the retail battle. So bike shops are forced to be what they really are anyway, which is a service shop.”

Everything turns on that last sentence.

We are all in the service business, whether we know it or not. There are businesses and industries where we can fool ourselves into thinking we’re not in the service business. Software companies are notorious for this. But with the emphasis on subscription pricing, and per-user pricing. and annual or monthly renewals… Service is everything for these businesses.  And likewise for game companies that rely on subscribers to online forums.

Also, obviously, businesses like BP3.  We’re in the service business, regardless of what percentage of our revenue comes from software.

For Russell and his team, that solution hinges on one word: love. […]

“Every single person that walks through that door is family,” he tells me, with remarkable candor. “This is why we’re winning and everybody else is losing. We love people. We especially love people who ride bikes. It’s not just a mantra on the wall: you have to actually give a [hooey] about the people who walk into your store. It has to be the truth.”

This is how we’ve patterned BP3.  Fall in love with solving problems for our clients, then do a fantastic job of doing just that.  Attendees at Driven 2017 could probably sense it in everything from the design of the program to the interactions with our team members.

Of course the unspoken fine print on this recipe for surviving is that there’s a big enough market of clients that value the extra caring that CycleEast is bringing to the table.  Luckily they’re well-positioned to capitalize on future growth of Austin.


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