The heavy-duty truck parts industry slowly has been warming up to e-commerce. It wasn’t long ago that parts providers feared Amazon was coming to siphon off sales and crash the business. Others in the industry felt Amazon could compete on price but not on the customer service and face-to-face interaction that have long been the foundation of traditional parts providers.
The evolution of business, along with a kick in the pants by the COVID-19 pandemic, is changing the industry’s approach to parts sales and its relationship to the Internet. Websites that first existed as virtual line cards grew to include inventory lists, YouTube tutorials and even online ordering portals.
The most recent step has been to not merely cater to a parts provider’s local area of service with preexisting customers but also open up its parts availability to anyone around the country — or world — with just a credit card.
Creating such a site might feel like diving into the deep end of the pool. However, some parts sellers have taken the plunge.
Online value proposition
After nearly two decades selling truck parts at brick-and-mortar locations, David Seewack founded the FinditParts e-commerce site in 2012. He says the move to online sales made sense at the time when he determined as much as 20 percent of his revenue from physical locations came from parts his business didn’t have in stock.
Furthermore, he says ordering parts from a brick-and-mortar store can be a “clunky” process, with counter staff calling around trying to find the part, which has to be shipped and then ultimately gotten into the customer’s hands.
Seewack says the way people shop is clearly migrating online and the trucking industry will follow suit.
A joint e-commerce purchasing survey released by FinditParts and MacKay & Company in 2017 revealed 55 percent of respondents said they have purchased a Class 6-8 truck or trailer part online, with their main reasons being affordability/price (75 percent), availability of parts (69 percent) and convenience (62 percent). Of the 45 percent of respondents who had never purchased a heavy-duty part online, nearly half (47 percent) said they would consider doing so in the future
“Just like all of our behaviors are changing, I feel that online is just the way truck parts is going to go,” Seewack says. “I thought there was so much business out there, I wanted to be able to capture as much of it as I can, whoever the consumer.”
FinditParts allows anyone to order from the site and it enables the company “to cast a larger net,” he says.
“The value is I want to be able to break down any barrier to make it as easy to do business with me as possible without requiring hardly anything of you. I’m not differentiating between my end user,” Seewack says.