We’ve worked hard to make ShowMeTheParts as easy to use as possible not just for users, but for clients as well. That means quick, easy parts management that allows new parts to be added to the database in days instead of the months required of most parts systems. Now we’re adding a new feature to speed up turn-around times in your business: “near” real time inventory and stock status updates. By automating inventory updates, processing times can be streamlined, and customers can see inventory levels directly from SMTP-based databases while they’re looking for parts.
How does it work? This new feature can be set to download inventory information from an FTP site that is hosted by the client company (DIY) or by us (DIFM.) The update interval time and frequency can be set to match the needs of the company from once each night after closing to multiple times per day. This information is matched up with the SMTP database, and the results are shown as part of the parts information in a column alongside other categories like application notes and quantity of parts needed per vehicle. For the end user, finding a part in stock is as simple as putting in their vehicle information and checking the inventory column to see which compatible options are available. Put that together with other SMTP features like photos, data sheets and 360 images, and the customer can be sure they can get a part that will work for their application.
Now, automotive aftermarket companies can easily add ShowMeTheParts catalog lookups to WordPress websites with a new WordPress plug-in created by Spork Marketing and Vertical Development, Inc. Combining our ShowMeTheParts’ massive aftermarket parts database with the world’s most popular website platform makes bringing parts information to your customers easier than ever before.
The first company to use this new tool is GMB North America, Inc. On the previous GMB North America website, customers had to leave the site to check parts information on ShowMeTheParts.com. As part of developing a new website for GMB, Spork Marketing created a WordPress plug-in that integrates GMB’s ShowMeTheParts catalog directly into the WordPress website system, so now customers can find what they need for their vehicles immediately. The results are now live on GMB’s website, www.gmb.net.
“Our new WordPress plug-in leverages the ShowMeTheParts’ API, which allows any parts seller or manufacturer to add a full suite of catalog lookup tools to a WordPress website,” says Jason Lancaster, president of Spork Marketing. “As perhaps the most popular website platform in the world, WordPress is already a reasonable choice for any auto parts or accessory manufacturer’s website. Our plug-in makes WordPress an even better option.”
“e-Commerce” may be starting to sound like a tired buzz word, but make no mistake: the growth of online sales is nothing to take lightly, even in the aftermarket parts sector. As the data comes in for the past year’s sales, we’re getting a better picture of how the online marketplace is changing. More than ever, buyers are turning to online tools to help with shopping, whether they’re ordering items at home, on the go, or even making decisions inside a store. Most of that growth has centered around smartphones, making it more important than ever to have a solid mobile presence.
In the past year, the biggest growth area in e-commerce has been focused squarely on growth through mobile devices. There are over 125 million smartphone users in the United States, and 62% of these people have made online purchases from their phones in the last six months. What does that translate to for overall sales? Last holiday season, shoppers used smartphones for 1/3 of all online purchases.
For those businesses with a physical location, e-commerce is still important. Last year, 40% of sales for Black Friday at brick and mortar stores came from online sales. Even when buyers are coming to your stores to buy, over 80% used smartphones in-store to look up product information and reviews or to search for other locations where they can find the products they need.
Recently, Aftermarket Business World shared an article detailing Gorlick’s Distribution Centers and ShowMeTheParts’ collaboration, modernizing Gorlick’s B2B ordering system. This was a challenging endeavor given Gorlick’s volume and variety of inventory. Read here how we were able to tackle the challenge and work with Gorlick’s to create an easy-to-manage system for the company and a simplified buying process for its customers by leveraging the power and scalability of ShowMeTheParts and integrating the database and shopping cart into Gorlick’s existing website.
Self-Driving cars are getting a lot of press, whether it’s Google cars roaming the streets, GM’s purchase of Cruise Automation, or Uber’s plan to put a fleet of self-driving Ford Fusions to work carrying passengers around Pittsburgh. How will this shift to self-driving vehicles affect parts management for fleets when their use becomes widespread?
What makes a self-driving car or truck different from a regular vehicle? To make a car self-driving, a system is added that uses a series of sensors to make judgments about driving conditions and react accordingly. A lot of the interface is already in the modern vehicle with systems like throttle-by-wire, adaptive cruise control and the steer-by-wire system recently introduced in some Infinitis. In other words, from a purely functional perspective, this just adds another small set of electronics to today’s electronically complicated systems.
In practice, there should be a major difference in how and when parts fail. Replacing human drivers with electronics means a consistent driving style across the fleet, and that should lead to fairly consistent wear patterns. Parts like brake pads and suspension components may wear with such consistency that they can be put on a maintenance schedule just like oil and filter changes.
Vertical Development, Inc. and GCommerce Inc. are launching a new product collaboration called “ShowMeTheParts B2B GCommerce Edition.” The new business-to-business e-commerce tool integrates GCommerce’s Virtual Inventory Cloud (VIC) system into websites powered by our ShowMeTheParts (SMTP), adding drop-shipping and special ordering capabilities.
Download the PDF and read more about the exciting new B2B e-commerce solution from Vertical Development, Inc. and GCommerce Inc.
ShowMeTheParts B2B GCommerce Edition is the capstone to a system that addresses every aspect of parts ordering between mid-market manufacturer/suppliers and their direct channel partners. With SMTP you can give your customers an account to see their own prices at log in. Since it leverages the SMTP database, buyers can see information including compatibility, attributes, data sheets and even photos of the part before placing an order.
“Partnering with Vertical Development to create ShowMeTheParts B2B GCommerce Edition leverages the best of both companies to contribute to increased sales,” shares Scott Luckett, Vice President, Industry Strategy of GCommerce, Inc. “In our more than 15 years in the e-commerce business we’ve built the largest network of trading partners serving the vehicle aftermarket. Combining the scale of our e-commerce system with the power behind the ShowMeTheParts database is game changing for mid-market wholesalers and distributors in the aftermarket industry.”
Do you know what size or type of air filter or brake pads are on your car? Unless you just had them replaced, there’s a good chance you don’t know whether you have cylindrical or flat paper air filters or semi-metallic or ceramic brake pads or what size you need.
If you were to start shopping for either right now, you’d probably walk out to your vehicle, take apart the air box or take a wheel off to find out, and type the information into your smartphone. A recent study by Google shows a massive increase in tire-related searches using mobile devices. Like air filter and brake pad searches, it’s just one facet of a growing trend toward mobile aftermarket parts sales.
Unlike other forms of advertising like TV and mass mailing, online advertising effectiveness can be measured with extreme accuracy, down to each individual click. Google’s latest report on Adwords advertising shows a major shift toward mobile access when it comes to finding aftermarket parts. As the single largest starting place for car part searches on the Internet, these results are nothing to sneeze at.
When SOMS Technologies wanted to create an online catalog for its line of microGreen Extended Performance Filters, its team turned to Vertical Development for help. Using the API from our ShowMeTheParts (SMTP) database, together we created a searchable catalog that integrates seamlessly into microGreenFilter.com.
microGreen filters are designed to help fleet managers and consumers reduce maintenance costs by providing higher filtration performance in a package that’s a drop-in replacement for conventional filters. This extends oil life, decreasing oil change intervals for material and labor costs over an engine’s life. microGreen filters are designed for a wide range of equipment from small engines to larger gas and diesel engines.
To help make the transition from conventional to microGreen filters as simple as possible, SOMS Technologies worked with us to develop a catalog based around the ShowMeTheParts database. This catalog allows customers to find compatible microGreen filters using either vehicle information or parts numbers. Using our APIs, SOMS Technologies was able to seamlessly integrate the catalog into their own website, giving customers access to parts information from computers and mobile devices.
ShowMeTheParts.com started out as a stock 2006 Ford Mustang. Over the past ten years, we’ve made many improvements. One year, we swapped out that V6 for the V8 and added a hood scoop. Another year we threw on 19” rims and gave her a nice paint job. These improvements attracted more and more customers over the years; growing our client list and our database. However, expansion and innovation hasn’t come without a few growing pains.
Through the years, we’ve dealt with browser incompatibilities, database downtime, changing Apple and Android requirements — you name it, we’ve seen it. No matter the problem, we always worked hard to tackle them head on and remedy them as fast as possible. More importantly, we’ve learned from each problem we’ve faced.
It’s the knowledge of our past that drove us to our greatest upgrades to date.
The upgrades began with a new server infrastructure that is faster, more reliable, and easily scalable to keep up with demand. The new system has real-time monitoring; it tells us immediately if a server goes off-line so we can work on getting it back up and running as soon as possible. In an effort to be more transparent and accountable for our service reliability, we plan on releasing monthly uptime reports in the near future.
On the software side, we’ve upgraded our applications to use the latest web technology and allow for centralized roll outs. With new versions of browsers coming out almost daily, our team is constantly testing our software to make sure it works perfectly on all major platforms and browsers. By switching to a centralized release system, we can push changes to our customers immediately, so everyone using our products will always have the latest features. That means reliable results across the more than one million application lookups per month — no matter how end users are accessing the database.
To put it in car language, most novices are only concerned about making the engine fast. But if they don’t put the same time and money into the brakes, steering and suspension, they will have a car that is fast but unstable. Just like with the Internet, fast but unstable is likely to cause a crash. Our recent upgrades give you both speed and stability.
The added performance gives us room to grow, and we’re still able to roll out new product information in a matter of days ensuring that the information you and your customers use is always up-to-date. Simply put, ShowMeTheParts works even better now and will continue to work as we further expand our software’s capabilities.
Get the fastest, most reliable database in the aftermarket industry, contact Vertical Development today. Call us at (847) 609-9540 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can we learn about mobile devices and social media when customers are interacting with and ordering from parts suppliers?
What are online customers looking for? UPS did a study trying to find out so they could work with retailers on providing better shipping options. In a previous blog, we talked about how the study shows a shift in online orders growth from niche performance products via online-only suppliers toward major growth in replacement parts sales, particularly for traditional brick and mortar stores. This time around, we’ll look at what we can learn about mobile devices and social media, two recent additions to the options customers have for interacting with and ordering from parts suppliers.
Social networking gives normal people a voice, both for sharing news between themselves and for interacting with companies. Two thirds of online parts shoppers use social networking sites, but it’s not evenly split between the sexes: of those surveyed, 76% of women used these sites compared to just 54% of men. While platforms like Twitter and Instagram have made strides in recent years, Facebook is still the most popular social networking site among customers.
26% of buyers say social media influences purchase decisions, but the most influence isn’t where you’d expect it. 24% of buyers getting upgrade parts said social media influenced their purchases, compared to 31% of those buying replacement parts. It’s the people looking for a part that works rather than a part that they can show off who are turning to social media for information.
Social media isn’t just about external sites: giving your customers a voice can have a major impact on how they view the usefulness of your online presence. 71% say that reviews are an influential part of the online retail experience, and 58% find ratings and reviews helpful, making it the most important feature of a retailer’s website.
Where does mobile fit in for these buyers? There are still kinks to work out on mobile platforms since they are relatively new, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that only 79% of users are satisfied with their mobile experience compared with 84% of users on larger devices including computers and tablets. Despite this gap, these shoppers are far more satisfied with these options over in-store shopping, which had a satisfaction rate of just 65%. No matter where they’re buying, 41% of shoppers use their phone to read product details so they can make better purchasing decisions.
Mobile use is wildly different between the sexes: men are almost twice as likely as women to look for stores, research products and track deliveries on their smartphone. However, when it comes to installing a part, women are almost as likely as men to do it themselves.
Customers of both sexes are looking for more convenience using online tools. 63% would like an email or text with an approximate time of delivery, 62% would like to authorize delivery beforehand instead of needing to be home to sign for a package, and 45% want electronic receipts via email or text.
What about the future? It should be no surprise that Millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 34, like to use mobile devices and social media more than older customers. If you have a mobile-ready website or app, you’re already catering to them since Millennials 34% of their parts shopping on their phones, compared to just 2% of older customers. The number one thing Millennials look for when visiting a parts store online is fitment data. 47% of them are likely to promote brands they like using social media, and 36% say social media has an influence on their purchases.
What lessons can we learn from all these numbers? Customers use online and mobile access because they want more information about what they’re buying. Men use mobile tools to track packages and find stores, women and millennials are the biggest users of social media, and everyone wants online services to make delivery more convenient. Lastly, the overwhelming popularity of mobile and social media usage among Millennials hints at a trend of increased usage in the future.
Vertical Development can help you be there for your online and mobile customers. Our ShowMeTheParts database is built to be used on mobile platforms with small screen friendly interfaces, HTML5-based tools that work in mobile browsers, and apps for iOS and Android. As the largest public parts database on the market with full access to photos, technical documents and 360 degree views on smartphones, we can help you deliver the information your customers want.