How Bicycle Retailer Primeau Velo Boosted Sales 27% in Declining Market

The century-old bicycle retailer needed to dominate the digital race.

The year 2016 will be remembered as an uphill struggle for bicycle shops. Since 2001, the number of stores in the US had fallen 39.5 percent, as cyclists abandoned brick and mortar stores in favor of pure play eCommerce juggernauts. These Amazon-like competitors were selling bike components at deeply discounted prices, and shipping them for free anywhere in the world. Worse news was to follow, when Bicycle Retailer reported that “suppliers shipped eight percent fewer bikes over the first nine months of 2016 compared with the year before.” This put the overall bicycle industry in decline.


Instead of bracing for impact and preparing to weather the storm, the cycle company Primeau Velo did what any bike racer would: they went “all-in for the win”. The retailer decided they needed to reboot their entire infrastructure and commercial approach by going totally omnichannel. It was a risk, but if they could connect with their passionate customers everywhere, they could even win the race. They had to play to their strength, which was relatability, an element overlooked by its mass market competitors. This century-old local bike shop needed to go global. 

Going all-in with omnichannel was a turbulent but necessary change. Let’s be clear: we literally changed everything.

Eric Primeau

President, Primeau Velo

Magento delivered a seamless, on-brand experience at every customer touch point.

Primeau Velo worked with Magento Enterprise Partner Absolunet to combine the omnichannel commerce potential of Magento with the agency’s market-beating digital performance marketing expertise. Together, they created a unique omnichannel experience, connecting Primeau Velo with their customers on every touch point, including the website, messenger, LiveChat, in-store, phone, and more. The sheer technical complexity and implications of this transition were carefully evaluated and planned. And once deployed, it took their business into the 21st Century.

The Primeau Velo journey was an eCommerce marathon, including rebuilding everything from the eCommerce site to social media, to ERP, and accounting. They integrated LS Retail’s POS systems and Microsoft’s Nav ERP solution, which all worked with the InRiver PIM system to feed product information. At the heart of this multi-level transformation was Magento, delivering the famous Primeau Velo in-store experience on every channel—while promoting the heck out of it. 

A 27% sales uplift in year one.

The omnichannel plan started paying off almost immediately. Primeau Velo saw a 27 percent sales uplift in year one—without increasing payroll. Their customers’ hunger for pre-purchase information became an opportunity to connect: Research found that visitors who initiated chat sessions had 30 percent higher conversion rates. Statistics also showed that 20 percent of their in-store visitors had chatted with a Primeau Velo associate before their visit. And most interestingly, one-in-three in-store visitors had a phone in their hand with information about their desired product.

Here’s a secret: 75 percent of a bike retailer’s sales all happen in the Spring, when customers are looking to buy a new bike or parts to fix up an old one. Last Spring was a record season for Primeau Velo, but that’s not all. Boosted by a dynamic SEO, SEM, newsletter, and social media campaign, the retailer also saw uplift in the slow season. Their September sales literally doubled compared to the prior year. And today the retailer is already using customer insights from those interactions to customize their offers for next year. For this famous retailer, it was “do or die”, and the Magento Effect really paid off.

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As an entrepreneur, few things are as satisfying as realizing that you have made the right decisions and chosen the right partners.

Eric Primeau

President, Primeau Velo