Steve Smith Walks Us Through the Value of the Endless Aisle
My name is Steven Smith and I’m the president, CEO, and board chairman of GCommerce Incorporated. We’ve been in the automotive aftermarket for 21 years and are the EDI connected supply chain solution for the entire North American automotive aftermarket. One of the biggest things that occurred, due to the pandemic, was this entire shift towards e-commerce. This is why it is important to discuss eCommerce order fulfillment in the automotive aftermarket now.
I have been in the industry for 35 years and 20 years ago no one would even be talking about online sales. But during covid, the online channel grew 33% which was an unforeseeable shift in our economy. 10 years from now the online channel will probably be among the largest channels of sales in the entire automotive aftermarket.
How Did The Automotive Aftermarket Trend Continue to Grow Online?
We operate in all segments of the automotive aftermarket, including the heavy-duty market, SEMA, the traditional market, tools and equipment, and PBE. We have nearly 3,000 different companies that connect through GCommerce from Mexico to Canada. We’re seeing that eCommerce trend across every geography and every segment of the automotive aftermarket.
One of the biggest things we’ve done for our clients in the last 21 years is to implement what we call purchasing automation. We are removing paper from the transaction process, which is important for reducing back-office costs and improving efficiency. Along the way, we also saw a need for helping people with their inventory of auto parts and by filling in the gaps in the supply chain, we created The Endless Aisle of Inventory. This seemed like the logical next step for our business and yours.
Automated eCommerce Fulfillment is a Reality
We discovered several things we could help clients and partners with, like shipping and automated eCommerce fulfillment functionality. We would get questions all the time on: How do I fill an online order? And what we discovered was that eCommerce requires Distributors and Manufacturers working together to succeed.
In eCommerce you can only list for sale the product that you know is available. So a distributor is limited to the 300,000 parts they have in stock, for example. But if you combine their inventory with that of their manufacturers’ millions of parts, you are getting closer to boasting an endless automotive aftermarket inventory.
Interesting Stats On Endless Aftermarket Inventories
One very interesting statistic we found on an endless aisle inventory; we saw about a 5% increase in sales transactions and a 21% increase in the average value of the order (AOV). That’s largely because consumers can locate hard-to-find items that may not have shown in a distributor’s inventory before the manufacturer integration.
Also, since more expensive products are more visible and available, things like a diesel injector kit, engine rebuild kits, and other types of parts and components that typically a distributor wouldn’t stock due to size or inventory costs, can now be drop-shipped from the manufacturer. This creates a seamless transaction for an end-user/client while you are working with that distributor to fill the order.
The Future of eCommerce Fulfillment Automation is Here
Where is this headed? The entire automotive aftermarket is collaborating so that they can fill the needs of the brick-and-mortar channel as well as the e-commerce and online channels. Large online marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart want to have a direct relationship with the manufacturer. Three things are critical for this to be a success:
- Great Aftermarket Auto Parts Content: People used to scrape product content from websites but now the marketplaces are where the clients go to research and order aftermarket parts online. Manufacturers need to supply content directly to the marketplaces and control their brand image online with fitment date, product images, 360 images and more.
- Inventory Visibility: Every available part – millions of SKU – has to be available through a combination of local distributor stock and drop ship fulfillment by manufacturers
- Nationwide geo-vending: Manufacturers don’t have 100 distribution centers across the country. But their distributors do. By partnering with distribution and backing them up with eCommerce fulfillment orders can be shipped from the closest geo-location, keeping 2-day shipping costs low.
This is where the puck is going. At GCommerce we provide eCommerce fulfillment solutions for both the brick-and-mortar channel and online automotive aftermarket channel. GCommerce has a connected supply chain for everything from online order management to inventory solutions and an absolute eCommerce order fulfillment software package. By connecting automotive warehouses and distributors to brand owners and retailers we can create an endless aisle for online automotive parts shoppers and alleviate the headaches of the ever-dwindling inventory.
Helping Aftermarket Auto Parts Stores Succeed
Helping online auto parts stores and everyone in the supply chain succeed in the current digital age is our goal. Growth, upgrades in technology, and the improvements in product data make this a very exciting time for the automotive aftermarket.
I’ve been in this industry for 35 years. I grew up around this industry and since I was five years old, there’s no other place I’d rather be than the automotive aftermarket. We aim to support this industry in the best way we know how so we can come out of this pandemic strong.
Change is scary for a lot of companies, so they need to work with someone that they know and trust. GCommerce is a trusted broker that’s been doing business for 21 years. We are a trusted ally of the automotive aftermarket manufacturers, brand owners, distributors, retailers, and buying groups. Everyone who is working with and trading some type of data or eCommerce orders through the GCommerce network knows if they have a problem with eCommerce order fulfillment they need to solve they can contact us at 515-288-5850 and trust us to help bring their vision into focus.