Online parts selling tools, when properly set up and utilized, can perform like a counter person that only costs about $3/hr, but the key to getting the most out of these platforms is to effectively integrate them into the parts department. Whether your dealership already adopted an online solution or you’re in the initial phases of finding and implementing the right platform, here are a few tips to help your team successfully launch an online parts sales solution and to make sure you’re using it to its fullest potential.
Put effort into the setup to enjoy the output
As a member of the parts team behind the sales counter, especially if you’re the parts manager, you know you wear a lot of hats and have a ton of responsibilities. There’s always a lot to do and there are only so many hours in the day. In fact, it’s not uncommon for parts managers to say, “I don’t have time to set this up” or something like that… when talking about online solutions. However, it’s important to understand that if your team puts the time into the setup and implementation process for the online (known as eCommerce) tool, it will be well worth it, and you’ll likely recover all that time – and then some – over the long haul.
Think about it, when you hire a new counter person, you need to take the time to train them, get them up to speed, show them the ins and outs of the parts department, and so on. Whether you’re selling collision parts, mechanical parts, or both, getting your parts sales solution up and running isn’t much different (it’s likely going to be much quicker and easier) and it averages out to only a couple bucks an hour. This is especially helpful for smaller dealers with fewer people on the staff.
When you’re tight on resources, especially people power, the right online parts ordering tools, once launched, can really reduce the stress on the team by:
- Limiting non-revenue generating phone calls
- Allowing shops to be more self-serving
- Condensing orders, reducing the necessary processing
- Driving greater efficiency and helping your team multitask
- Lowering costs
The key, though, is getting the solution up and running properly. The work you put into the platform upfront will come back to benefit you in the end and the benefits will drastically outweigh the initial effort.
Interested in how shops and dealers connect using online tools? Check out this video!
Take advantage of the available resources
While it’s critical to take the time and put in the effort to launch your online parts sales solution, it’s also important to understand that you don’t have to go at it alone. Managing a parts department and processing customer orders is a lot of work, so take advantage of the resources that are available to you for setting up your department’s eCommerce tools and helping your team use the platform effectively.
If you’re looking to start using online parts sales tools, it is important to consider what resources are available to your dealership to help you succeed. If you’re in the research phase of your decision-making process, check on the support and training opportunities that are available with the different solutions. If you’ve already launched your solution, consider looking into the training programs or supplementary materials that may be available to your team.
More often than not, your parts sales solutions will provide a few, if not all, of the following options to help you get up and running. See if your team can take advantage of:
- Training Opportunities – Customer support teams are typically available to guide you along the adoption process and offer support after any initial training
- Online Knowledgebase – Self-service, online resource libraries are an excellent way to get the info you need quickly and are often driven by common questions other users have asked when using the tools
- Free Webinars – Learn tips & tricks that will help your team use online platforms more effectively and accomplish your ultimate goal: selling more parts
- Marketing Materials – Sales collateral and other useful resources are typically available for free and are designed to help your team connect with shops to encourage them to order parts online from the dealership
Dealership Performance Coaching Solutions are also available. Interested? Learn more here!
Take action using the available insights
Want to know one of the key benefits of establishing your online parts ordering solution and getting it up and running? The customer insights! Once you’ve put in the work – with the help of eCommerce experts – to launch your online parts sales tool and utilized the available resources designed to make you an online parts sales whiz, you get the added advantage of using the insights you get into your customers and their behaviors.
One of the more interesting pieces of information that you can access with these tools is a look at which customers are using the platform to browse – or even start a cart – but not moving along to the actual purchasing phase of the transaction. With this insight, you can reach out to the customer and encourage them to complete the process to ensure they’re getting the full benefits from the program.
By communicating with more precision to your shop customers, you can remind them of the advantages that these online platforms provide, including:
- Being cost-effective with many available for free to shops
- Saving time by providing a self-service option (reducing phone calls and time spent on hold)
- Condensing orders by helping shops get the parts they need in fewer orders
- Increasing accuracy and ordering the right part the first time
A side note: If you notice shops are reviewing parts or starting but then abandoning carts, they may be encountering something that you weren’t aware of, and then you know to make adjustments, maybe to the pricing formula, to encourage or correct the online experience for your buyers.
Ultimately, the online tools and the available insights allow you to access more information on customers, provide buyers with the knowledge they need to buy parts from your dealership and have fewer but more specific customer conversations. Online parts sales doesn’t mean you’re never going to speak with your customers – parts sales is still a relationship business, but with the right tools, the conversations you have with customers can be more targeted, direct, and productive.
If your parts department is really into business analytics, business intelligence tools are available that provide extensive, in-depth customer and sales data. The leading parts sales platforms, however, do provide basic insights, (mentioned above) that allow you to get a feel for business and customer data analytics and how they can help your sales performance.
Understand the available integrations
When your dealership adopts an online parts sales solution, it’s important to understand the integrations (the other products it works well with) that the solution includes and are available to help your dealership. Integrations are designed to make the job of the parts team easier, but there are some common misconceptions about how products work together. These integrations are important to understand, since they are often misunderstood and, while many people believe that their current tools don’t work together, the truth is actually the opposite: not only do many online dealership tools work together, but they’re also easy to integrate, making your job easier. These integrations include:
- Estimating systems – The leading online parts selling platforms work well with existing estimating platforms and they’re really easy to integrate (just a few clicks of a button)
- Delivery solutions – On-demand delivery solutions are commonly underutilized but are integrated into a few parts sourcing platforms and, especially in a time of tight resources (meaning parts department employees), having a parts delivery option available is huge
Online parts sales & setting yourself up for success
Online parts sales tools are designed to help your parts department – and customers – work more efficiently, provide better insights and training, and, ultimately, grow your bottom line. It is important, however, to set expectations with your team and know what needs to be done to be set up for success. Also, understand the resources available to help your parts department maximize the platform. Right now, resources are tight, especially trained employees and time. The leading parts sales platforms take the burden off your team (in a cost-effective way) and allow you to use your time behind the parts counter more productively while also helping shops serve themselves online – a win-win for everyone.