Wiggle - good or evil?

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#1
I've been thinking locally and acting a bit globally lately. Do companies like Wiggle actually serve to enhance the eco system overall? or do they actually cause entropic harm by co-opting local economies? What's ur opinion?

1) What would you do if your local LBS shuttered due to lack of operational profit because they cannot keep pace with cheap online reseller?

2) Do you think large conglomerate buyers, like Wiggle, interrupt free trade, in essence, because they can corner market on certain component groups and accessories?

3) What is the solution to a viable, yet local, economy?

Wiggle - good or evil?
 
May 22, 2007
3,617
1,454
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Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#2
Hi Tim. You pose an interesting set of questions.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "eco-system" here. There's surely a perplexing environmental dilemma associated with buying a Japanese-made part from a UK retailer and thus causing it to have been shipped at least 16,000 km more than necessary.

On the other hand, if I save, say, ¥10,000 yen in the process, I'm going to take that option.

1) What would you do if your local LBS shuttered due to lack of operational profit because they cannot keep pace with cheap online reseller?
I would not shed a tear. There are two bike shops within 40 min walk of my place. One sells only mamachari and electric bikes, the other is a Seo branch that might just might have a 10-speed chain but not much else. They looked at my Mavic wheels and prostrated themselves.

2) Do you think large conglomerate buyers, like Wiggle, interrupt free trade, in essence, because they can corner market on certain component groups and accessories?
You imply that they corner the market. Is that really the case? I think it's more that they can offer the benefits of huge economies of scale in the form of cheaper pricing and consolidated shipping.

The major UK/US online retailers have been a bit of a dirty secret amongst foreigners, as they offered a way for us to circumvent inflated retail prices in Japan. Those retailers are themselves victims, if you like, of the astronomical property and transportation costs here in Japan.

Local alternatives were and still are available. Even after shipping I can and do save around 10% by buying through Rakuten, often from warehouse operations in rural Japan.

But until recently a reasonable working knowledge of English was essential for individuals wishing to make online purchases from overseas. Wiggle changed the playing field by providing a web site all in Japanese - what an amazing business decision. They weren't the first. I think maybe Lands End was the first. But Wiggle was the first for bikes and bike parts. They saw an opportunity, made the investment to do it properly and to back it up, and they are seeing massive sales as a result.

I can't say this is either good or bad. Sometimes I need instant gratification, in which case I will go to a bike shop in central Tokyo and pay what they ask. Sometimes I can afford to defer my gratification, either through sensible planning or an alternate (perhaps temporary) solution, and so ordering from overseas makes sense to my wallet.

My 2¢
 
Jan 14, 2007
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Noda
japanichiban.com
#3
I'm a good customer at my SEO and get good discounts on big purchases. Throw in the free repairs... and I'm happy to keep on going back.

If I can't get a good price at SEO I use Amazon or Rakuten.

My wife bought a lot of stuff from Wiggle but all I have is my TCC jersey. (which has shrunk due to me not riding enough).:cool:

Wiggle do offer very good value on most of their stock and a lot of my Japanese friends are buying from them and are quite protective in not letting their LBS find out. If the LBS provide an above excellent service them I'm quite happy for them to profit from it.

I'm trying to buy local with all my purchases...food especially...
 
Oct 15, 2010
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#4
1) What would you do if your local LBS shuttered due to lack of operational profit because they cannot keep pace with cheap online reseller?

For me, it comes down to three things, not necessarily in the following order:

a) Price. Given the choice of paying more money, or less money, I tend to go with the later, but there are other factors to consider. (see points b and c that follow)

b) Service. Service is usually good in Japan. There are cases where it can be shocking: taxi drivers and LBS's come to mind here. I am sure there are some good LBS's in Tokyo. If that is the case, it is unlikely they will go out of business due to Wiggle and the like, no matter what prices they charge. As for the half dozen or so around me, they are all run by gaggles of retards. I hope they all do go bankrupt so we could fill the space with something a little more useful. Seriously. I get 10 time the service buying a 100 yen ice cream from 7-11 than I have gotten from any LBS near where I am. Maybe too emotional here and I should reconsider... OK, there are two near my place that have decent staff, but both have very limited stock and always seem to be closed when I go there for something, so yah, I think I would be happy to see them all go.

c) Selection. Wiggle does not have everything. For example, I have been thinking of replacing my Carnac shoes, and they can not help there, but compared to some LBS's that carry a selection of only about 10 tires, and then only one of each, in some cases, makes them seem really rinky dink, and that, combined with their ignorance and/or ''what are you doing in my store'' attitude, usually leaves me thinking, why on earth would I pay more for this?

2) Do you think large conglomerate buyers, like Wiggle, interrupt free trade, in essence, because they can corner market on certain component groups and accessories?

see #1 above

3) What is the solution to a viable, yet local, economy?

see #1 above

Wiggle - not evil
 

timdesuyo

Speeding Up
Mar 29, 2010
138
1
38
Tokyo
#5
I'm kinda in the same place ~ I've yet to find a shop locally that lives up to being a LBS. All the places I've been into have given me worse service than Wiggle has. I have emailed Wiggle on several occasions, and always gotten a prompt answer to my question.

At Y's, and one other place I've been to however, I've been blown off and mislead (except for two guys at the Bygs Y's who treated me right). I had one great experience with me breaking a chain right in front of MAP Sports 5 minutes after close, and they lent me a chain break, and sold me a chain anyway. But since then, the people there have been generally cold. It seems like if I don't have a carbon-fiber wunderbike, they don't want to talk to me.
 
Sep 2, 2009
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#6
Focusing on Japan, the meetings I attended when the guys from Wiggle were over, with Japanese bicycle magazines, and bicycle shops, proved that pretty much none of them were willing to play along with Wiggle; none of the magazines even entertained the idea of taking on advertising, and none of the shops were willing to act as service centres.

Wiggle were very fair to the local shops and magazines of Japan, with their offers of cooperation, but none of them wanted to play along.

The only people who treated the situation with any kind of future vision were the transport logistics end of the business, which as you all know, works very well.
 
Sep 2, 2009
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#8
So did we!

Without wanting to go into too much detail, it was only the people not involved directly with cycling that we met, who were willing to entertain the idea of agreement.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#9
The thing is Wiggle is not a new phenomenon and international online/warehouse sales have been in operation for more than 2 decades. Just pick up any issue of any euro bike mag and the last 5 pages or the center pages are normally full of adverts for them.

The Japanese market has been well over priced for years now with many native cyclists complaining about the 20-30% increase on brands compared to what they pay in Europe and also the shops feel the same as the pricing is controlled by the distributors, many of them not interested in the Bike industry at all apart from the massive profits they can make on the shops.

Wiggle, CRC, Evans and a whole host of other warehouse retailers in a way has shaken this up and eating in to the profit margins of the distributors and thus forcing them to rethink the Japan price point.

Also there are certain companies that will openly protect regions; Mavic for instance will not let you import the wheels to Japan. Milani bikes also protect the retails using the same model.

As I have mentioned before the LBS can and will live side by side with the big online retailers as you will always have walk in customers , people that need that part right now or that impulse buy while they are browsing.

The good will stay and the bad ….well good riddance!

I for one will continue to support Wiggle as actually they are my LBS when I lived in Portsmouth and operated under the name of Butler Cycles. Wiggle still are Bike people, they employ people that have a passion for the sport and try to support it where ever they can.

The price you paid for the TCC jersey is proof of that, you’ll also know that I harp on about other good bike stores like Sagami Cycles and Zuki bikes and the hardcore porn shop Psy!Z

Like I said the good shops will still be around in 10-20 years time and the bad will fall by the way side.

So the question I throw back at you is do you support adistributor like Dinosaur and the likes that openly don't gave a damn about the shops and the customers and rip you off at 20-30% markup or do you vote with your feet?
 

StuInTokyo

Maximum Pace
Dec 3, 2010
1,662
62
78
#10
I've had nothing but a good experience with Wiggle, I've bought a bike and quite a few parts etc from them. Whenever I've had a question on things, they always respond quickly with good info, a couple of times they have even told me that they don't know, but will find out..... :eek: imagine that :D

I mainly go to the Y's Road in Shinjuku, I have had some great service there from two guys, one guy (can't remember his name, big tall guy works in the MTB workshop) who helped me greatly with rebuilding my old Cannondale MTB, the other guy his name is Maejima san, a little bit older guy, wears glasses and has a bit of a beard, kind of looks like a gnome (not a dig!) he has a lot of knowledge and will work with me to find a solution, he will also admit on rare occasion, that he does not know. Most of the guys at Y's road are just a tick above brain dead, they don't know much about bicycles, I'll bet most of them could not fix a flat tire!

The Y's maniac shop, just across the road from the multi floor Y's in Shinjuku has some great stuff, but as I'm not a skinny carbon fiber framed weight wiener cyclist, they don't want to see me, let alone actually lower themselves to "talk" to me, my GOD he rides a STEEL bike...... :eek::eek::eek:

The pricing or should I say gouging here in Japan is NOT limited to bicycles, I find it too in my woodworking endeavors, tools are stupid expensive here, STUPID and you often cannot even get things that are readily available in the US or Canada.

Wiggle is NOT evil :cool:
 

fredstaple

Speeding Up
Nov 1, 2009
198
1
38
Puerto de la Santa Maria
#11
Two of mine...

... something that really bothers me is walking into my local shop and having to deal with second hand smoke. The mechanic and the owner smoke in the shop, this is the last thing I want.

I just am not used to that environment in a sporting goods retailer. I think this is indicative of a bigger problem that is clear in this thread, many of the local shops are not changing/evolving to meet the new business model. Because of that, others are moving in.

I can't add much more that others have not said so much better. I do wonder though that maybe in 10 or 20 years we will see some local shops whose primary focus is not retail sales, but providing a crack staff of mechanics who gladly service the bikes bought from the large online retailers who do not offer this service. These shops would stock replacement parts for the mechanics to use in repairs or would use what a customer brought in. It would be the same business model as a large auto mechanic shop. The business opportunities abound!
 

astroman

Speeding Up
Mar 19, 2007
264
0
36
Shirokanedai, Tokyo
#12
My 2 yen

Wiggle = good.

They did a great job with the TCC jerseys and are practically a sponsor of the group. So I don't think that the company deserves to be questioned in any way.

Next question!
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#13
As a small side note - I buy quite a bit from Wiggle for many of the same reasons listed above. Personally I think the biggest challange the local dealers have are simply to evolve beyond the 'distributor' and start direct purchasing which should lower costs. Unfortunately, dealers in Japan are somewhat spoiled by clueless customers who will happily pay more, 'just because'. Things do seem to be changing a bit.

On the otherhand , I do know that large direct sellers like Wiggle practice market cornering and thus shut out smaller dealers (and other online e-tailers) from participating in the market. It is always good to have choices. With the strong yen, the local dealers are getting hammered even more - especially because their distributor agreements strictly prohibit them from sourcing the prdts outside of the distribution chain. If they are 'caught' - they are banned - and basically blacklisted from all distributors in Japan!

I would LOVE to buy everything locally to keep economic circulation vital and healthy here - but at times, it seems the LBS, distributors and mfg's themselves are doing their best to cut their own throats!

Anyway - e-tailing has changed dramatically in the last 5yrs and will continue to evolve to a more and more centralised / satellite fullfilment model (I think) , with the LBS primarily operating as knowledge and service centers.

Now then - if they'd only send their staff to mfg training schools! It's even painful for me to watch most LBS staff try to fix a flat tire, let alone anything else.
 

toledo baha

Speeding Up
Jan 20, 2009
130
4
38
Yokohama
#14
I have finally found a friendly, efficient bike shop down my way. Bought a frame from wiggle and the shop built it up for me. There was a fairly high fee involved with building it up, but since I live in Japan I do not mind contributing to this particular shop's well being.

Relationships take time to develop in Japan, as you are well aware. Now , however, I have been dealing with the same local shop for about 3 years so the owner is always very helpful. No attitude whatsoever, which I have encountered in other shops in other areas of Japan.

So, yes, continue to support your LBS, especially if they are willing to go the extra mile for you. And a little wiggle on the side.:bike:
 

Wolfman

Speeding Up
Jul 31, 2007
631
18
38
Suginamiku
#15
Good

I think Wiggle is a good service. Costs are low, delivery is efficient, pricing is transparent.

Q: Do you think large conglomerate buyers, like Wiggle, interrupt free trade, in essence, because they can corner market on certain component groups and accessories?

A: No, the market is sending signals for Japanese firms to adapt to the new challenge. This should be an evolutionary process and most Japanese retailers are failing and have failed to really learn from Wiggle's success, in my opinion.

I think you've said it somewhere before Tim, but Japanese retailers are playing a different ball game, stuck somewhere in the mid 1990s. Just look at the cycle section on Rakuten - so many retailers there require you to go through the onerous process of bank transfers because they don't accept credit cards. You have to email with them several times and then get long emails from them in Japanese, or then they tell you that stock is short. The whole process is inefficient and burdensome. Prices are then inflated.
Rakuten is an efficient aggregator of price information, but the shops themselves really are failing to adapt or change their services. Wiggle's market entry should have sent clear signals to Japanese retailers to up their game over the past few years - They've already lost it though - I haven't bought anything in Japan for years, and don't even look now. It will take a supplier who can match Wiggle/CRC/Evans' et al's service; stock range, information scope and shipping efficiency to take on the challenge. As it is most of them are quite happy to plod along offering lousy service or as others have sometimes noted, turned custom away because of language difficulties or other issues.

Also, in classic free trade terms, by saving money from buying Wiggle's goods, we have more to spend on other things, such as taking our wife or girlfriend to a nice Japanese restaurant. More and more waiters will be former bike shop owners, unless they up their game.
 

astroman

Speeding Up
Mar 19, 2007
264
0
36
Shirokanedai, Tokyo
#16
One more thing

I wanted to by two valve extenders for my deep dish race wheels. 1,280 yen each at Nalshima (5 min walk from my office) or 600 yen each plus 650 yen shipping from Evans. So of course I went with Evans. Ordered on Monday and had them on my desk on Friday. Agree that it is all the middlemen that cause the grief in Japan.

Then last week I need to by a CO2 inflator. 1,200 yen online or 1,200 at Nalshima complete with 2 gas canisters. So it does pay to shop around some times.

K
 
May 22, 2007
3,617
1,454
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Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#17
Oh yes I'm still ranting.

On the subject of Japanese online retailers. I'd forgotten (because it hasn't happened for a while) just how incredibly frustrating it is when their web site allows you to order something and then they come back to you days later to say they can't get the stock.

It's as if they simply put the entire Shimano, Topeak, etc. catalog online and hope for the best. I wish there was some way to get them to pay me for the lost time and annoyance they've caused me. But of course Japan doesn't have a functional Trades Descriptions Act, so there's nothing to stop people from advertising products that don't exist in real life.

Aaaaarrrrgghhh! :mad::mad::mad:
 

BCBorn

Cruising
May 11, 2011
25
0
11
Tokorozawa
#18
They are taking a while to get my most recent order to me.

My first order with them was for about 12,000 yen and it shipped with a tracking number and got to me in about 4 or 5 days.

Most recent order was for 9,500 and it was shipped with no tracking number and it has been about 10 days since I placed the order.

Is this common? Do they change shipping type depending on value of order?
 

laz

Warming-Up
Sep 2, 2009
61
1
0
Tokyo, Mitaka
#19
I am one of the Wiggle shopper, so far I am please with their service. Their price is good, speak English :p and door to door (almost free), it is hard to find any local bike shop can provide a same service.

I do try my best to find local bike shop that can provide me some good service but disappointed. Most recent example was I want to set up my new 11sp group set and I would like to try using SRAM power lock link for my chain. I went to my nearest local shop at Kichijoji, and I found one, but they charge crazily! A pack of powerlock should have 4 pairs and selling around 12 pounds, even in SRAM Japan distributor site say that should selling 2100yen. But that shop putting 1 pair of lock and asking 1560yen! What a "special" service!
 
Oct 15, 2010
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#20
I had been a loyal Wiggle customer since the beginning of the year when I first found out about them. Then yesterday, a pair of Tifosi sunglasses arrived and they looked like they were bought through an on-line auction or a flee market for a few quid - nowhere near the 4,500 yen I paid. There was a hair is in the paint in the sunglasses and damage to the paint in another part of the frames. I told Wiggle and they immediately apologized and offered to send another pair that was in new condition. Perfect solution, since what was delivered is usable, and I can rest assured that new condition sunglasses are on the way. Sure would be nice to have some sunny weather this summer.... Ha!