Best Buy is diving into the electric mobility space with the announcement that it plans to sell e-bikes, scooters and mopeds both in stores and online. The retailer gathers some of the best-known names in lightweight electric vehicles, including Unagi, Bird, Segway-Ninebot, Super73 and swft.
Customers who want to buy something now can visit BestBuy.com to scroll through the selection of the company. And as of October, 10 Best Buy stores in nine locations: Austin, Texas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York; Orlando, Florida; Puerto Rico; San Francisco; Seattle; and Tampa, Florida – will start stocking e-bikes and scooters.
It’s a huge step from a big box store that should help drive more customers to e-bikes and scooters, especially because the pandemic has led to a boom in sales. Best Buy clearly sees an opportunity to dominate the space, especially in a market saturated with similar products with little to distinguish them apart from brand names and price. Amazon sells a variety of e-bikes and scooters, but it lacks a physical presence where customers can physically interact with the products.
The question is how Best Buy’s emergence as a bicycle and scooter retailer will affect supply chain bottlenecks. Bike shops across the country posted record sales in the months following the lockdown, with many completely sold out by the summer. Manufacturer warehouses also had large amounts of empty shelves. Year-over-year, bicycle sales for the 12 months ended April 2021 were up 57 percent, to $6.5 billion in both large-format and specialty stores. according to NPD. Nowadays, ordering an e-bike or scooter online usually means waiting 3-4 months for delivery at best.
Many bicycle and scooter companies, especially those that only deal electrically, sell their products directly to consumers, usually through their own websites and often with all kinds of extras, such as mounting instructions and accessories. Best Buy allows customers to compare prices and products, especially as their product list grows longer and more varied.
It remains to be seen whether Best Buy can establish itself as a trusted brand in the micromobility market. Sending e-bikes and scooters to customers by post is a fraught business, as VanMoof’s top executives recently admitted in an interview with The edge. The Dutch brand is plagued by delivery issues, with many customers reporting wear and damage to their bikes that occurred during transit.
Additionally, Best Buy offers home e-bike assembly and fine-tuning through its Geek Squad mobile services for $99.99. Those services include adjusting brakes, seat heights and steering. The arrival of e-bikes and scooters is just in time for Best Buy’s Labor Day sale, where customers can save up to $300 on select e-transportation products, the company says.
“There has been incredible innovation in e-transport and we know that more customers are looking for ways to commute efficiently and sustainably,” Frank Bedo, senior vice president at Best Buy, said in a statement. “As we expand this selection, we look forward to helping customers find the right products to meet their needs and supporting them as they get back on the road safely.”
This will certainly put more pressure on local bike shops, which were struggling to compete with Amazon’s cheap offers before the pandemic. People with local bike shops often have more knowledge about e-bikes and scooters than employees of big-boxes. And they offer maintenance, tuning, and a variety of other services that stores like Best Buy don’t typically offer.