It’s been not quite three and a half years since Trek announced its Trek Connect program, where the company sells its bikes direct to consumers via the internet and ship them to buyers’ local Trek dealers for assembly and/or delivery. With the opening salvo “We play offense!” Trek president and longtime Packers fan John Burke told retailers and media in August of 2015 that the initiative was fully supported by the company’s network of nearly 2,000 local retailers, and that the whole shebang would be up and rolling by the end of September. It took a little longer than that, but Trek has been taking customer orders for bikes on its website and shipping those bikes to Trek retailers ever since.
Industry response at the time was, ah polarized. Some foresaw the imminent death of brick and mortar retail. “Now is the time for all Trek dealers to drop them!!!!,” one retailer opined in the BRAIN Comments section covering the announcement. “Walmart, here comes trek[sic],” insisted another. Others predicted a shining new era in which direct-via-retailer sales would inoculate top-tier bike brands against competition from discount online resellers.
None of those things actually happened, of …read more