Mike Welch, the founder of tyre site Blackcircles.com,is turning his hand to the industry in the US, unveiling a new online portal designed for brick-and-mortar retailers of the product across the Atlantic.
Retail entrepreneur Welch, who pioneered “click and fit” tyre retailing in Europe, has founded Tirescanner.com to serve the market Stateside, where replacement tyre sales reached $39.6 billion (£31bn) in 2017.
He has invested an initial $1 million plus of his own money into what he claims will be “North America’s first online portal for brick-and-mortar tyre retailers”.
The Florida-headquartered portal is expected to launch fully early next year and has already received commitments from a number of retailers and manufacturers, said Welch.
It is understood that Tirescanner will engage with all tyre brands, aiming to launch with more than 60,000 tyre sizes, three million prices, 60 retailers and a handful of key manufacturing partners.
Welch said: “We have a very simple focus to provide drivers with the ultimate tyre choice, availability, price and booking options at the best brick-and-mortar retail outlets across the country.
“We have many thousands of tyre retail outlets in the US and, unlike in Europe, it is impossible for customers to check all of what is available to them. Tirescanner addresses that problem head on.
“Our goal is to deliver an easy-to-use, whole-of-market platform for customers and a low-cost, high-performance solution for retailers to ensure they protect and grow their share of the market in the face of growing online competition.”
Welch sold Blackcircles.com, which has offices in Edinburgh and Peebles, to tyre giant Michelin for £50m in 2015. At its peak, Blackcircles claimed an online conversion of 8 per cent, with a net promoter score of over 90 and year-on-year growth of more than 50 per cent in the years before the sale.
Welch also founded and chairs Edinburgh-based online fashion retailer Atterley.com.
He added: “I have learnt in the last 20 years running online tyre businesses that it is the proposition that provides choice, price and service that wins, not price alone.
“Great online is not about driving down price, it is about reinforcing and showcasing to customers the value propositions of our partners. We have created a real strength in numbers opportunity for the traditional retailers.”