Could Google Succeed At Running A Bike Shop?

I’m a big fan of heist movies, and one of my favorite heist movies was from 2001 and appropriately named, Heist. It starred Gene Hackman, Danny Devito, and Delroy Lindo. The writing in Heist is worth any movie ticket price and one of the best lines comes from Hackman’s character after being asked how he solved a problem. Hackman said, “I tried to imagine a fella smarter than myself. Then I tried to think, ‘what would he do?’.” The line is playful and a bit silly but I’ve often referred to it when trying to predict an outcome or solve a problem I felt was beyond me.

When looking at the future of bike retail I pull the Hackman Heist line pretty quick. When trying to think of a person or business smarter than me I landed on one of the smartest companies operating today; Google. Then I ask myself, “How would Google run a bike shop?” Here is my conclusion.

1. Relevance rules. Whenever you use Google your results, docs, and mail are all relevant to you. You are the center of the Google universe and everyone who interacts with Google feels the exact same way. If Google ran a bike shop the customer would be at the absolute center of everything and every experience in the store would revolve around the customer experience.

2. Keep it simple. Google has been known for one of the cleanest and most minimal home pages on the web. When Yahoo and AOL were in their heyday they were covered in stories, links, and photos. Google came in and changed the game with a simple and clean format focused on one goal, search. In 2008 Marissa Mayer wrote a blog asking the question, “What comes next in the series? 13, 33, 53, 61, 37, 28…?” She was referring to the number of words on the Google homepage and their constant strive to make it fewer and fewer. In Google’s hypothetical bike shop they would have a very focused offering, dedicating their time and energy to what they do best. If Google saw themselves as the bike shop for mountain bikers, there would be nothing that didn’t relate to mountain bikes.

3. Test everything. Google exhaustively tests everything they put online. Product teams, service teams, and engineers are all committed to testing and recording the their findings. No software application makes it to the customer without a thorough vetting internally. In a Google bike shop this mentality for testing would carry through to the product selection, merchandising, pricing, and services offered. Nothing would make it to the customer without a strict testing process first.

4. Track everything. When you perform a Google search for “Books by Donny Perry” Google will record your preferences and remember your search. Next time you pluck away the word “Books” you will see you past search for books that I’ve written. This would work in their bike shop as well. Google would keep detailed data on their customers in hopes to help them predict their needs in the future. When someone at a Google bike shop buys a tire, Google would know when the tire needs to be replaced.

5. Competition is broader than you think. Google’s competition includes Bing, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and even Adobe. But their competition goes even further than that, Google is also competing with AT&T for directory assistance, Kodak for photo sharing, and much more. Google would recognize that competition for a bike shop is more than other bike shops and online retailers. A bike shop’s competition will encompass any business or activity that can take the attention of potential customers. It may not appear as immediate competition but a bike shop is at odds against the yoga studio, the movie theater, and even staying at home and reading a book.

6. Future-Proofing. Google deeply understands the three Vs of data: velocity, volume, and variety. Velocity is a measure of how fast the data comes in, volume measures how much data, and variety is a metric gauging how many different sources this data comes from. To demonstrate how well they understand these three metrics, a search for “Bike Shop” yields over 200 million results in less than a half second. But Google a step further and adds two more Vs to the equation: viability and value. Nearly any bike shop can tell you the velocity, volume, and variety of their business but very few will be able to tell you the viability and value. Google’s bike shop would demonstrate great viability by showing the potential for positive growth in the community and value by being one step ahead of their customers in predicting their needs.

Google has built a great framework to their business and there are many more businesses like them. All with an idea, strategy, and execution we can learn from. We just have to think about someone smarter than us and ask, “What would they do?”

Thanks for taking the time to read this far. If you found value in this piece would you please consider sharing it on social? Thanks again. Donny