Last month, I talked about the trend of more and more parts stores getting Internet access finally.
on another technology topic, how many of your customers order their
parts and shop supplies from you electronically? I’ve been talking to
both parts and repair professionals lately who have differing opinions
on electronic ordering.
One well-trafficked repair shop in California estimates they do about 30 percent
of their ordering electronically. The manager of one chain of jobber
stores estimated 40 percent of their professional sales come from shops
that order electronically.
when talking about electronic ordering, it might help to discuss
exactly what constitutes electronic ordering. By some shops’
definitions, it can mean that a technician or service writer checks the
availability and price electronically, then calls the jobber store on
the phone to verify that information. So, by definition, no real
electronic ordering happened there. The final order was taken over the phone.
On the jobber side, some stores don’t consider an electronic order truly “electronic”
if, even though a technician or service writer completes the order
electronically on their side, a parts pro keys in the order into their
system to generate a parts receipt. In some instances, an order is considered
completely electronic if a shop orders online and the only human
contact on the parts side is picking the order and driving it to the
shop. One store manager I spoke to has a professional customer who
orders 90 percent of their parts electronically in this manner, but
this appears to be the exception rather than the rule.
shop owner I spoke to who orders electronically doesn’t want to see
phone contact with jobbers completely go away. He finds that human
contact essential. Who, he wonders, do you talk to when the computer is
may seem like semantics, but I think it helps to at least try to define
the terms that get used on a daily basis because we may find that not
everyone agrees on what those terms mean.