Coming from a background in brick and mortar retail, Yelp has been an omnipresent consideration since they rose to the top of review sites. Many retailers complain about the challenges of working with reviewers, and the semi-opaque rating system. As I’ve pivoted to focus on the data side of retail, I became curious what data there is to substantiate or refute some of the claims of retailers. Thankfully, Yelp provides a well documented API for interacting with their services.
After signing up for Yelp’s API access, I was able to check for batches of bike shops in cities around the country. Overall, I checked the top 1,206 most populous cities in the country, looking for the key work “bike shop” within 25 miles of the central coordinates. By approaching it this way, there is a lot of overlap, so I then filtered for duplicate listings.
However, since in the US, Yelp’s categorization does not break out bicycle shops as a dedicated category, I looked in the general “bicycle” category, with the stated keyword. In total, I found 7,654 unique listings. There may be some businesses operating multiple DBA’s, but the total number is close to the figures reported by Georger Data Services of the number of bike shops in the US.
Within these numbers, we can see some interesting niches within their names:
- 261 references of rent or demo ( 3.4% )
- 73 references of tour ( 0.9% )
- 179 references of repair or service ( 2.3% )
- 480 references of ebike, e-bike, or electric ( 6.3% )
- 53 references of mobile ( 0.7% )
- 163 references of Pedego ( 2.1% )
- 289 references of Trek ( 3.8% )
Overall, most of these businesses are highly regarded on yelp, with nearly two thirds of shops being rated a 4.5 or 5 stars. If we bring in rating of 4, we exceed 80% of all businesses. This flies somewhat in the face of conventional wisdom that yelp is challenging to navigate with customer reviews. Very few shops are rated at the bottom of the yelp scale (2.5 or below). Overall, this shows an alignment between the consumer perception of the importance of these ratings to businesses, and the scores that are used in these calculations. It should be noted that Yelp does have a business friendly policy when it comes to removing listings. In particular, references to employees individual names often fall under their privacy guidelines.
Ratings by State
The following map shows the average rating of these businesses around the country. Originally, I had the lower bound in red, but when this turned out to only be slightly below 4.0, it felt disingenuous to show it in red, as it might mislead people to think they are worse than they are. Nearly all states fall within a narrow range between 4.2 and 4.4. The outliers below 4.1 and above 4.6 generally have lower numbers of bike businesses, indicating that as the number of businesses increases, the average rating regresses to the national mean.
Overall, it seems that Yelp can be a good source of finding bicycle businesses in the United States. In addition, most of these businesses are highly regarded on the platform, with only limited outliers. For the genuine frustrations that retailers feel with ratings systems like Yelp, they may not deserve the villainous light that people often cast on Yelp. At least not in aggregate.