"Because riders place such a high priority on helmet comfort and fit, many manufacturers are discouraging the sale of helmets at locations other than at licensed dealerships, including on the Internet, so customers are assured a proper fit by trained salespeople, Crewdson said."
Please don't do this! I think I speak for a large number of riders who would rather spend long hours sliding naked on a bed of razor blades than spend anymore time than absolutely neccessary in the dealership showrooms. Alright maybe the razor blade thing is just me. But the dealerships here in the Northeast are generally full of people with far less knowledge than the average motorcyclist and all they want to do is hit your wallet as hard as possible and get you the hell out the door so they can rob the next guy! We need whatever competition we can get to try to keep these crooks up here honest.
Agree strongly with YZF. The dealers in my area have such a mark up on the good helmets, its a money motivated sale. Pathetic.
For so many riders that ALREADY KNOW what they need for fit and sizing, why discriminate against them (Arai) by not allowing Internet sales? If they are so worried about fit (?) and that's the reason Arai is trying to prevent Internet sales, have a disclaimer form to accompany their Internet sold items.
I think the dealers have clout, and the issue is more about maximizing the income and preventing competition through other forms of sales.
If one knows what he wants, is knowledgeable about size and fit, allow us to purchase products where we want to. What happened to free trade and competitive marketing?
I think that the companies that limit or or prevent items from internet sales will drive consumers to other brands.
.... furthermore, here in Mass, the dealership selection universally SUCKS for motorcycle gear, ESPECIALLY helmets.
Frankly, the helmet I wanted was simply NOT available in dealerships when I was ready to buy. Sorry Arai, you're lying or stupid if you think that turning off Internet sales is for my benefit.
The only half decent store I've found for riding gear at all was the Vanson Leather's factory store. IXS is distributed from this state, but do you think I can find a fully stocked dealer? No. Do you think they have a factory store? No. Do I enjoy spending more time in bike stores than I do on the road? What do you think?
I, like many people here, wear an Arai and think it's a great helmet. However the limitation of internet sales may be somewhat more insidious than a first reading implies. Most dealers cannot stock more than one or sometimes two high end helmet manufacturors plus some lower ones. I have been told that Arai is also resisting dealers who just want to stock a few of their helmets, forcing them into an all or nothing situation. This puts dealers into a difficult situation and by doing this Arai seems to be attempting to monopolize this market. My guess is this will only drive the prices up.
Whether this is good long term marketing is altogether another question.
(BTW. I already know my model, helmet size and cheekpad thickness for Arai, better than anyone else can tell me.)
The most disturbing part of this "impartial" survey is when an acutal JD Power employee spouts Arai marketing party line re: internet sales. Makes me wonder: how many actual Arai customers did they really survey? Was the survey pre- or post-Arai non-internet-sales-only announcement? And, most importantly, where did the majority of those surveyed buy their helmet, online/mailorder or in a shop?
Does JD Power conduct this survey for free? My guess is no. Is Arai a heavy contributor to the "2002 Motorcycle Helmet Satisfaction Study"? I dunno, but I'd be willing to bet they are...
Funny thing--I just popped over to the JD Power website and the quote about internet sales is not part of the actual press release. Hey, MO, where'd you get your info from? Also, there's no chart tracking sales telling who bought what from where--can you ask them what the trend in interenet sales of motorcycle helmets is (or was, before Arai pulled the plug)? Anyone willing to bet that e-sales were skyrocketing and Arai caved to dealer pressure?
As far as customer satisfaction goes, I can't wait to see the 2003 survey of 2002 sales. Anyone willing to be Arai is no longer tops? No? Didn't think so...
Wears a Shoei, nothing against Arai, plenty against the opining of supposedly objective parties...
I tried one on yesterday at the local Honda dealer, and yep, the Quantum/f is an amazing fit. I already can't afford one, and their new no-internet sales policy is going to make it that much more difficult. So I bought an AGV ARC off of EBAY for $81 and it fits 90% as well as an Arai for 1/5 the cost.
I feel for you North Eastern folks, here in Northern California I can walk into almost any shop and have the pick of the litter. Or at bare minimum they will have one of each style and size then you can order the color you want. Still I would never by a lid without wearing it around the shop like a dork for at least 20 minutes. Of course then I would probably pop online and order one cheaper. But sight unseen forget it. Unfortunately my Arai of choice was the previous years model and I had to track it down. So of course I got soaked for full price being that it wasnt an "on the shelf closeout". Still I wont ride with any other lid, just got that shape of head I guess.
"Because riders place such a high priority on helmet comfort and fit, many manufacturers
are discouraging the sale of helmets at locations other than at licensed dealerships,
including on the Internet, so customers are assured a proper fit by trained salespeople,
God what a sack of bullsh it. Who needs 'trained salespeople' when you already know your helmet size??? Arai is just responding to the whines of all the dealerships who've lost sales to the Internet dealers and their drastically lower prices. Case in point: I was quoted almost $500 for a Quantum F from my local dealer; MAW used to sell it online for $390. And come on, who believes for a second that a dealership would do ANYTHING (other than saying "try the next size up") that an online dealer wouldn't?
It's too bad I love Arai so much. Otherwise I'd be shopping online for my next Shoei.
It's not just in the Northeast that lacks these theoretical well-stocked helmet shops staffed by highly trained professional fitters. As I wrote to Arai when they first announced their no-internet-sales policy (and never received a response) I bought an Arai helmet online not because it was my first choice but because it was my only choice. I could not then (about 3 years ago) and cannot now find a shop that stocks my head shape and size in the Chicago area. Most shops that do stock Arai have maybe four or five helmets on the shelf. I don't know what is behind this policy but it sure isn't customer needs.
Yeah, but did they ever try to change the face shield? Shoei has 'em beat hands down in that department. Even when I was shopping and bought an Arai, none of the counterpeople at several dealerships could change shields easily, and I ended finding that removing the side plates was the fastest way. The Arai demogeeks at the trade shows can do it in their sleep, but then they only do it, oh, 2000 times every day. I changed from a Signet to a Shoei XSPII and have not been disappointed.
I agree that Arai's policy of limiting mail order sales is a bad move. Most retailers charge "MSRP" for Arai helmets, which in most cases is several hundred dollars more than mail order.
On the other hand... where would we be without local shops? Ever gone to a shop for a last minute parts purchase or servicing? Better yet, how many people really know what size Arai they wear without trying one on first? I recognize the value of having a relationship with my local shop - I also recognize that their overhead is much higher than a mail order firm. They need to sell at a higher price just to break even! In my case, I mentioned to the dealership that I would like to buy from them, but could not ignore the $200+ savings on a new Arai. They recognized the loyalty I've shown them, and came within $25 of the mail order price. They also come really close on tire prices, so I purchase those locally as well.
To summarize, we all are going to need a local shop at some point. They cannot sell all day long at mail order prices and stay in business - there is a happy medium if you and your local shop are willing to work together. I understand why Arai has this policy, but I don't condone it, and don't think it will keep Arai out of mail order.
By the way, the remark someone made about 19 year old squids at the counter made me laugh - my last trip to the parts counter, I was met with a spiked- bleached hair earring wearing tattooed squid with a two-word vocabulary: "dude and cool". Oh, and a "Starboyz" video was playing on the telly. At 42 years old, I sometimes feel out-of-place in the sport bike world...
JDPower helmet satisfaction survey, gimme a break! These folks will do anything to make a buck. They basically force companies to buy their studies, than get heavily compensated for ad claims. If the helmet fits....
Customer satisfaction? Jeez! Next they'll be spouting off about their committment to excellence and all the other TQM blather. Oh, I bet they are ISO 9XXX compliant, too!
I'd like to add a note from L.A. (Lower Alabama), where there are no "dealers". ARAI told me they were working hard to expand their dealer network. Please, Sir; may I have another? If they ever get someone around here that can afford one of each of their helmets, let alone one of each color, I'll perform an unnatural act on the manager, and give them time to advertise it in the paper.
How about this? ARAI, if you really care about Customers, have a program where customers can order a hat from your Daytona warehouse. Let them wear test it. If it fits and they like the color, they send it back (free) and you issue them a coupon that allows them to buy the hat from Chaparral or MAW (my favorite), or HelmetShop. Or their local bike shop. Charge them $20 for the program. If you want to see such a program work, check out the RunAmerica Club at RoadRunner Sports.
If you don't want head mung in the hat, enclose a paper cranium condom.
You'd reach a lot more customers, and you'd probably not spend a heck of a lot. What is the Net on a $500 hat, 70%? Besides, you could sell the "demo" hats when you're done with them, maybe at shows.
Couldnt agree more. My local shops are good guys who look after me really well - so they get some loyalty from me. They wouldnt if they just treated me as potential $$. I dont mind paying a bit extra because if I support them, they will be around in the long term, and I cant get a close look at race stands, gloves, jackets, helmets, boots, tank bags, etc etc over the internet! I need them to service my bike, give me advice on maintenance and modifications etc. I'm honest with them, and let them know if a price is too high for me. I know I win overall by keeping a good relationship with these local guys.
Many good points - most notably about many consumers not having a local shop to purchase from. I remember some high end bicycle companies tried to ban mail order, until they realized they were effectively alienating a large percentage of consumers who lived 100+ miles from their nearest dealer.
I don't think margins are as high on helmets as they are on other apparel - I'd guess more like 40% at full MSRP. Keep in mind that the high volume stores get volume discounts and early payment discounts. I suspect most mail order firms are profitable on a 10% margin, whereas most local shops probably need a 25% margin just to break even. Where the local shops can compete is in service.
This is what I like about MO - and Burns' columns - great input from readers. Minime - it would be nice if you could get a spokesperson from Arai to respond to readers' concerns about their new policy. If we could be interactive with not only MO staff and other readers, but the manufacturers as well, we'd really have a voice. Thanks, all.
I've used Arai for years - and it's good stuff and saved my head from some race crashes - but I'm tired of the damn ATTITUDE of many of these companies. I have an AXO offroad helmet and a Shoei full cover and a Shoei custom paint to offset my Harley - I almost understand Arai but again I'm just feed up with this kind of crap. Probably bought my last Arai too - Joins up with bought my last Harley as well
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