There were three very interesting things that came out of the interviews with Storm/Ivars at the Demo Days Event last Sunday
1) He has said that he might have one container of 300 bikes shipped to Southern California for people to pick up their ebikes. This video at 22:57.
2) He said the Sondors electric bike would come with a 30 day warranty but did not say what parts it would cover. He also said it was on the website (it isn’t yet). This video at 4:22.
3) He said that the bikes would come out of the box and ‘just the handlebars would have to be turned sideways’. This video at 5:37.
I want to address my concerns about each of these three things individually in practical terms.
1) Importing the bikes directly from China and having them shipped out UPS or Fedex by a distribution warehouse is a smart system that makes a lot of sense. Storm/Ivars mentioned having warehouses on the East and West coasts (Long Beach California and NY this video at 1:00) which will save the consumer dramatically with shipping costs. Having a single container shipped to Southern California so that some people don’t have to have to pay full price for the bikes shipped to them seems like a recipe for disaster. Dealing with a shipping container full of hundreds of bikes and handing them out to people is not something that you would normally just ‘do in your backyard’. These containers will most likely end up at a distribution warehouse which are huge operations with giant warehouses that move thousands of pounds of boxes a day. The last thing a distribution warehouse wants is consumers poking around and trying to pick up packages. They load stuff off of trucks and they load stuff back onto trucks. I’ve done a bulk purchase of 24 Standup Paddleboards from a distribution warehouse and I can tell you that the last thing they want is you at their door picking up a single bike. It’s way too much of a hassle. They just want to push boxes and all they want to deal with is truckers and delivery people.
So is he going to distribute the bikes himself? Will a bike shop do it for him? Someone has to be there to hand out bikes and have people sign for it. The whole idea seems a little off base. I honestly have no idea why he is suggesting it at all. Maybe because he wants to be a ‘cool guy’ and lots of people are asking for it because they don’t want to pay the full shipping costs. Can you blame them? Is that fair to everyone else?
2) Offering a 30 day warranty is an incredibly risky move. What Storm/Ivars Sondors and his crew need to do is to make sure they can provide the highest quality bike to people for the lowest cost. If you offer any kind of warranty with it people aren’t going to hear the ’30 days’ what they will hear is ‘lifetime warranty’ and will expect to get their broken ebike stuff replaced for free forever. They would have been a whole lot better off if they had never used the word ‘warranty’ in connection with the Sondors electric bike. Because the price on this bike is so low, so are people’s expectations. Don’t go out of your way to raise people’s expectations of your product. They will already be disappointed when they don’t get anywhere near the 50 mile claimed range.
3) I have bought at least 8 of them online and spend a lot of time in bike shops and I have never seen a bike shipped in a box where you just had to ‘turn the handlebars’ and you had a bike you could ride. When Walmart sells a bike and ships it to your house you better believe that MOST of the cost for that $130 bike is the shipping. Almost always the handlebars are detached and so are the pedals and the front wheel. With the front wheel left on you get a box that is 30% bigger than when it is removed. It just doesn’t happen, no one does it that I know of or have ever seen.
The sample bike from China that Storm/Ivars received seemed to really please the current campaign backers. The bike the customers receive should come packaged the same way the bike that Storm received as a sample from China came packaged. Storm/Ivars will need to do everything in his power to cut the costs on this bike if he want it to succeed. One of the bigger costs of the bike will be the shipping. Trim your costs to increase your profits, don’t increase your shipping costs by 30% so people don’t have to deal with the hassle of putting the front wheel on themselves.