Enhancing the Digital Aftermarket Experience [Commentary]

FleetPride's Darren Taylor emphasizes that the company's e-commerce effort is more than just setting up a website. File Photo: William_Potter

User experience, digital transformation, and search and product information management were the three key pillars FleetPride included when it began its e-commerce efforts a little over a year ago. "We knew it had to be relevant and simple for our customers," says Darren Taylor, senior vice president of marketing and digital at FleetPride.

Taylor emphasizes that the company's e-commerce effort is more than just setting up a website. "It is really about transforming the whole company," he says. This includes everything from training branch employees and sales reps to implementing an order management system to enabling shipping directly from distribution centers and branches.

"It's a significant change but is highly beneficial to [aftermarket] customers," he says. For those customers "it means higher availability and more delivery options." Given supply chain issues, higher availability is a big plus as fleets scramble to find parts needed to get their trucks back on the road. Prior to the change, FleetPride customers could order online from their local branch or go to the branch to get the part.

Now they can get parts shipped from all over the country. Even though the site is relatively new, FleetPride has already broadened its offering and now has 410,000 parts on its e-commerce platform. After talking to customers, the company realized it needed to have a broader portfolio of parts as part of its e-commerce offering.

"It includes everything from filters to brake shoes, brake drums, PTOs, accessories, suspension system parts, etc.," he says. Taylor sees fleets using e-commerce to "help them get their job done" and adds that fleets are using e-commerce to make planned, routine purchases as well as for truck-down situations. He believes the pandemic accelerated the growth of e-commerce for truck parts.

Enhancing the Digital Aftermarket Experience [Commentary]

Denise Rondini

"Parts ordering shifted online quickly, and we were uniquely positioned to take advantage of that because scale matters," Taylor explains.

The tools and data management needed to be effective at e-commerce are expensive and complicated. In addition, you have to have the inventory, people and data to scale. "We are perfectly positioned between the local experts who can help customers, but we also have a national footprint and the scale to have a large inventory of parts," he says.

Taylor says the parts experts who provide customer service to online parts purchasers have experience selling parts, which he thinks is an advantage over other websites. "You can teach someone how a website works, but you can't give them the 20 or 30 years of parts experience our people have," he says. FleetPride is continuing to fine-tune its e-commerce platform and is working on more improvements in the customer's search experience.

Since our interview, FleetPride has added a customer rebate program for e-commerce purchases that has "no cap on the amount customers can add back to their bottom line." Given all the stress fleets are under, he says, they are "looking for a tailored solution to their business." "What we are doing is not just adding another piece of functionality on our website, but it is bundling solutions for them -- and that includes integrating with the salespeople and the branches in order to have more availability and more reliable solutions to get their trucks back on the road," he says. 

This commentary first appeared in the May 2022 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.