Customer Journey: Buying An Ebike

Recently I’ve been looking into buying an ebike. I’d like to start commuting to work a few days a week and the 30 mile round trip would be a lot less painful with a little electrical assistance.

Gtech Ebike

I’ve done a huge amount of research on ebikes and i wanted to pick that research apart to see what can be learned and what my customer journey has looked like so far.

Ebikes aren’t cheap and I don’t make big ticket purchases lightly. In fact I’m yet to buy one but I think there are still useful insights from my approach.

It rarely start with brands

The first place I start my search is with list posts. I’m looking to get an idea of budget. How much does an ebike cost and which is the best value? I could do this by visiting a retailer’s site like Halfords or Evans but I prefer a good list post (more on this later). My search will typically be something like ‘best budget ebikes 2019’ and maybe I’ll throw UK in there too (depending what comes back).

Here I’m more interested in looking at specialist bike sites and blogs rather than those that sell the products themselves.

So why do I favour list posts on specialist bike sites over retailers sites? There are a few reasons, firstly the bike site list post will give me some idea of which is the best value and the recommendations won’t be limited to a few brands (like they would with a retailer). Secondly, although I’m well aware most of the list posts do contain at least some affiliate links (on poor websites it can be 100% affiliate links), I tend to trust them slightly more than the retailers who will always push the products they want regardless.

From searching a few list posts at different sites I’ll then have an idea of which ebikes are in my price range and are considered to be good value for money.

The Field Is Narrowed

I now have a budget in mind of £1,000 and the names of two bikes: The Gtech Ebike and the Carrera Vengeance E (Halfords’ own brand). Time to find out what they’re like.

Aida Ebike Purchase

Ebike Reviews

All of the major bike retailers have reviews on site which is great, unfortunately unless you’re Amazon it’s likely those reviews are pretty useless. When I’m about to spend £1,000 I need more than a single sentence from a user that has had the bike for a day.

Ebike Retailer Review Example

For retailers the challenge with high ticket items like this is getting in-depth reviews from users who have used the product for a good length of time. 6 months plus is what I’m after. I want to know what it’s like after some serious use. Without a strong incentive this type of review is quite hard to get and there aren’t enough retailers doing a good enough job of offering incentives in return for quality reviews.

Hours Of Research On Youtube

And so I visit YouTube. I’m looking for real users that have had an ebike for a good amount of time. I’m not looking for a polished video, I’m looking for real. Sure it’s great to see the bike in 4k with stunning cinematography but it’s the words that I’m here for.

I want the good and the bad, the tricks and the tips, the workarounds, the regrets. The truth.

I’ll spend tens of hours watching people use and review the products, they don’t even need to have big view counts. There are two things I don’t want though: videos produced by the brands themselves and influencer videos.

Brands Struggle With Youtube

Videos produced by brands are little more than adverts. Even those that are taking a more content marketing focussed approach struggle with this. This is where a lot of the bigger brands fall down with YouTube. They’re not real, you get all of the good and none of the bad. It makes sense, why would any business that has invested huge amounts of money creating a product tell you about its flaws? That said, in 2019 maybe it is time this changed. Consumers are way more savvy now and if you’re not giving them what they want and need, they’ll find it elsewhere.

No Trust For The Influencers

On to influencers. Influencer content has been so tainted by marketeers that I simply don’t believe it any more. The influencers are either getting free products or paid handsomely (sometimes both) to position the product in a positive light and as a result their content becomes completely untrustworthy.

Youtube Comments Are A Goldmine

I pretty much consume every piece of real video content that I can. I want to know everything. It doesn’t end with the videos though, the comments are a goldmine too. Here you’ll find other people that either own the product you’re interested in or are considering a purchase themselves. Not everyone out there wants to create a video, so the comments section offers those that don’t a good opportunity to voice their opinion. Note to the manufacturers and retailers here, responding to comments on user generate content is a great opportunity that is rarely leveraged. In fact, I haven’t seen a single instance of this whilst researching ebikes

Decision Made

And so I’m leaning towards the Carrera Vengeance E. I’ve learned about it’s feeble connection to the battery and also the fact that it’s known to cut out. I’ve also found some workarounds to those problems.

So now I’m at the point where I’ve chosen an ebike and I’m saving up the money to make the purchase.

Finally, I Look At The Retailers and Brands

At this point I’ll start to look at the retailers and also for the first time in the process I’ll take a look at the brand’s website. What I’m looking for now are things like warranty and return information and possibly even a deal. A big factor when it comes to the ebike is, if it goes wrong what happens? But there are plenty of other questions about servicing, batteries and more to be answered too.

What I’ve found interesting in this process and the reason I started writing this post is how little value I place on the brand and the retailer in the early stages of the customer journey (take a look at my simple diagram using the AIDA model above to illustrate this). Without doubt brands and retailers could be doing a lot more in this space to make their products known to users and to allow them to get a deeper level of knowledge of the product. Better on-site reviews, responding to comments on UGC, working with real product users are a few ideas to being with.

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