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Affiliate Sector Spotlight: Cycling

Affiliate Sector Spotlight: Cycling

At Affiliate Window we've been focusing on several niche sectors with the advertisers we work with. The aim of these reports has been to shed greater light on the nuances seen within these specific advertisers, who quite often differ from the typical retail, travel and finance affiliate trends, and to provide sector-specific actions for programme managers.

This series looks at variety of sub sectors, taking into consideration online market reports in tandem with typical affiliate reporting metrics such as conversion, AOV, growth/decline curves and device sale splits. This report analyses the UK cycling market. 


The UK cycling sector has gone from strength to strength in the past five years, with increasing demand for products across the country. According to figures from the ONS, sales of bicycles in the UK grew from £35 million to £60 million between 2013-2014 alone. 

The sector has been largely recession-proof, with growth seen even in 2010; bucking general economic consumer trends. Growth has been especially prominent in London, where the number of commuters has doubled in the 10 years up to 2014, especially in the 30-34 age category. Coupled with overall industry growth, decisions such as bringing the start of the Tour de France to Yorkshire, and Chris Froome’s 2015 victory in the tournament, have aided a sharp rise in British-made bicycles, with sales of these up 70% in 2014.

The cycling sector is becoming increasingly competitive and online retailers will need to continue to work hard to attract customers as well as differentiate their brands. Several advertisers are working hard to maximise returns with basket-level add-ons to boost cart values; combining usual extras such as helmets and Hi-Vis clothing with wearable technologies, which are proving their popularity in the sector.

Looking at the affiliate portion of the cycling sector, we’ve seen continual annual growth at Affiliate Window, with sales growing 65.87% from 2011 to 2015. For the same period we’ve seen revenue grow by 44.18% and overall commissions by 28.79%.     

Trends over time: The graph below indicates the monthly sales trend for Affiliate Window’s cycling advertisers: 

Key performance indicators

Average order value (AOV)

Over the past few years the AOV for the sector has dropped from £106.12 in 2011 to £86.64, likely impacted by increased competition and advertisers broadening their offering from core, high-value cycles.  

Conversion rate

The average conversion rate across the cycling sector has improved consistently over the past three years, growing from 3% in 2013 to 4.73% in 2015. The conversion rate for tablet devices has also grown significantly to 6.11% this year from 3.86% in 2013.

EPC and commissions

Alongside growth in conversion rates, earnings per click have also grown in the sector - rising from £0.18 in 2013 to £0.35 this year. With AOVs dropping we’ve also seen the average commission per order drop from £3.05 in 2013 to £2.80 in 2015.

Mobile Performance

We’ve seen a fairly consistent share of sales from tablet devices from 2014 to 2015, with these devices holding 17.87% of sales this year. The AOV for tablets is currently at £82.36 in 2015 following the overall decreasing trend, and down from £86.76 in 2014. Smartphones on the other hand have seen notable growth in 2015, up to 11.74% of sales from 8.65% in 2014 and just 4.30% in 2013. 

The AOV for smartphones also bucks the overall trend, growing to £77.43 this year, up slightly from £77.11 in 2014. 

Tools for affiliates

Typically most cycling programmes will offer a feed to affiliates, standard banner creative and text links. Some programmes also have various voucher codes and promotional offers. 

Affiliate mix

In the chart below, we’ve broken out the percentage of affiliate transactions by publisher type. Results for each promotional type have remained fairly consistent across the past four years. We have seen a gradual increase in cashback use, accounting for a 36.27% share of sales in 2015 versus 34.48% in 2014, whilst loyalty has dropped to 5.23% this year from double the share in 2012. Discount codes have increased slightly to 33.34% in 2015 from 31.32% in 2012.

Finally, we've put together some niche sites to consider for the sector:

Jamie Birch

Jamie Birch

Jamie is a data analyst at global affiliate network Affiliate Window. 


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