MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — No matter what the intended panel topics were on the first day of the Bicycle Leadership Conference, the discussion seemed to come back – inevitably – to retail and how brands are selling their products in an evolving retail environment. Even during an afternoon session on supply vs. demand, speakers skirted the topic of how to better forecast and adjust production to avoid the inventory swings that have prompted early season discounting.
The impact of high inventory levels on the specialty channel was felt especially hard last year. But gaining a better grasp on inventory and forecasting is a complicated issue that bike brands feel they are ill-equipped to solve quickly.
Bob Margevicius, a longtime industry executive and Specialized’s executive vice president, spelled out a few brutal truths about the industry’s supply chain model. One of the biggest challenges to overcome is long lead times on bikes. And with 95 percent of bikes sold in the U.S. imported from Asia, there’s not much that can be done to shorten long lead times.
“You’re looking at 150 days of planning and forecasting we need to do from the specialty side to service this market,” he said. …read more