The pandemic threw the world out of sync and for many industries, the problems this created are persisting with little sign of abating. The cross-industry problems caused by the global shutdown include shipping delays, raw materials shortages, and components shortages. These are a few of the issues, amongst others, specifically affecting and severely disrupting the ebike industry. An industry that, despite these issues, has begun to flourish.
If this is news to you, or if you just want a refresher, you may want to read our State of the Industry piece from March, as well as our May Update. In these pieces, we explain the different factors that have cumulated in the frustrations both you and the bike industry are feeling related to the shortage of products and spare parts.
In this post, we want to address a question posed to us by some members of the Aventon community regarding the seeming disparity between the availability of Aventon ebikes online and in our partner stores. Currently, this stems from the above, pandemic derived problems but that is not the full picture and, in order to keep you informed, we have to delve into how we organize our inventory.
What's the Question?
The question that has been asked of us and our partner bike stores by some members of our community is:
Why do I have to pre-order my ebike -and therefore wait for it- with my local shop
because they're out of stock, yet I can see the same ebike is available for immediate purchase online?
The answer has many layers and the first is the above-mentioned pandemic born problems; if these weren't there then this question probably wouldn't be asked at all. The next layer is how we distribute our inventory to ensure that every person across the USA has fair and equal access to an Aventon ebike. It also allows customers to shop through their preferred channel, be it online or in-person via an Aventon ebike dealer.
The 50:50 Inventory Split
Since the inception of Aventon we've focused on being a customer-centric business; after all, without customers what is any business? We designed ebikes, then took public feedback and improved on those designs. We've done this, again and again, to ensure that our products keep to the high standards which our customers expect from Aventon.
When considering how we were going to sell our ebikes we knew that, in today's world, you need both an online and physical presence in order to be accessible to as many people as possible. We found a few independently owned and operated bike shops who loved our product and wanted to stock them, and we agreed to supply them our ebikes.
We made the decision early on that we would split our inventory 50/50, between the physical, independent stores selling our ebikes and our online storefront. This is to ensure that we are not favoring one sales channel over another and that everyone who wanted an Aventon ebike could get their hands on one; whether they be just around the corner from one of the independent stores that stock our products, or hundreds of miles away with access only to our online storefront.
So, when we distribute our inventory we do so as fairly as possibly. We keep 50% of it to ship out to our customers who order their ebike online from aventon.com, and we equally distribute the other 50% between all of the stores that stock our products. This ensures that no one receives more or less than anyone else and that everyone in the nation has equal access to our products.
Our Partner Stores Are Independent
We do not own any of the stores that sell our products. These stores are all independent, some fiercely so, and we support them in every way possible. We provide them with the inventory and parts they need to sell and service Aventon ebikes, as they do for other brands of ebike.
While we support these stores, keep an open line of communication, and help them support Aventon customers they are not linked to our online store and should not be seen as a direct link to Aventon in any other way, than being an Aventon approved dealer.
Some stores may have more Aventon ebikes than others, simply because they haven't sold all of their inventory. Therefore, if one store is out of stock of your desired model another may still have it.
We also know the impact the pandemic has had on the industry doesn't just impact our Factory and our corporate business, it also affects our local partners. Because they are feeling so much of the pressure directly, we have also done what we can to support them by offering customer service and warranty support at the corporate level. What does this mean? It means that customers can get support for their Aventon products both from the local shop they purchased from or via our corporate customer care team. When bike shops are just too busy and cannot service a customer, they can call us at the main customer support line and get the same support that an online store customer would get.
Our Online Store
While there are many stores that stock our products, these stores are not omnipresent across the continent of North America and there are vast swaths, more than 50%, of both the USA and Canada where you won’t be able to find an Aventon ebike in a brick and mortar store within a few hundred miles of you. The 50% of our inventory dedicated to our online store is meant for those who can’t get to a store to purchase their ebike or for those who prefer to shop online.
Benefits of Shopping Online or In-Store
You can choose to purchase your ebike wherever you want and each avenue comes with its own benefits. While the problems rooted in the pandemic have made our products a little harder to find, the benefits of each method have not changed.
Benefits of Purchasing Online - If you purchase any product online you have the ultimate convenience of being able to shop from your couch and have your product dropped on your doorstep; but it's not as immediate as it sounds, you still have to wait for it to arrive!
When purchasing an Aventon product from aventon.com you deal directly with us for any service queries you may have. Our customer support team will help you with any queries you may have about your ebike, from walking you through assembling your ebike to referring you to one of our partner stores, to sending you replacement parts and walking you through fitting it yourself.
Benefits of Purchasing In-Store - If you head into one of the Aventon independent dealers to purchase your ebike then you’ll find many benefits waiting for you there. You will have an expert to talk you through the process of purchasing an ebike, helping you to get the best possible fit, and the great benefit of test riding one or many models before making your final decision.
Another great benefit of purchasing a product in-store instead of online is that you get to take it home that very same day (in most cases)! You can also have an expert assemble your ebike for you, and you will have someone you’ve already met to refer back to if you have any questions.
Last, and by no means least, you’re going to be supporting a local business! Many independent stores offer incentives for you to purchase your product from them, one example being free adjustments for a year after purchase.
If you think that shopping at a local store is right for you then enter your zip code into our store locator and find your nearest Aventon dealer.
As a side note, we’re working to further expand our dealer network so as to stock our ebikes in more stores across the nation, provide a greater level of service to our existing customers, and to open up the in-store purchasing option to more customers. We’re also building in the infrastructure to better monitor our partner store’s stock levels, which services they offer, and also to give you greater clarity on when you can expect your pre-ordered ebike to arrive in the store. We’re also building the capability into our website so you can select a partner store near you who can receive your ebike and assemble it for you!
Last Word: The Customer is Our Priority
We chose this method of distributing our inventory because we believe that it is the fairest way of doing so. This equal distribution and availability of our ebikes allow customers to explore both avenues for purchasing their Aventon ebike, and to make a choice without any pressure to purchase from Aventon directly online or in-store from an Aventon ebike dealer.
We want to say that this is a temporary issue! Once stock availability returns to a healthier level we will be able to provide our partner stores with special orders i.e. the model that you want when they’re out of stock will be expedited to the store. We’ve also significantly increased our warehouse crew and, as a result, our fulfillment process has vastly improved. In addition, we are expanding our warehouse locations to offer faster fulfillment for both online and in-store orders.
We do realize that the situation created by the global pandemic has put stress on the availability of the in-demand products that we sell, however, we still believe that the way we organize our inventory is the best way to serve our customers across the whole of North America