By Campion Jaques
As discussed in previous columns, electronic parts catalogs (eCatalogs) improve a dealership’s ability to sell and service equipment quickly and efficiently. They streamline the part identification and ordering process to help your team meet rising customer demands in a timely and profitable manner. This means you can focus your efforts on selling and providing higher value service, and spend less time identifying and looking up correct part numbers and prices.
Today’s electronic parts catalogs can produce incredible results in productivity and efficiency, ultimately leading to improved customer service and higher sales. You can take these results to the next level of profitability with the seamless integration of your eCatalogs with your Business Management System (BMS) and your website.
Getting back to what you do best
Integrating your eCatalogs with your BMS results in four key benefits designed to help you improve customer satisfaction and sell more parts and service:
Inventory: The integration allows you to keep track of your stock status and update your inventory accordingly.
Pricing: eCatalogs include the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) when provided by the manufacturer or distributor. When integrated with your BMS, they show your retail pricing so you’re wasting no time double-checking pricing or entering a price with the risk of making a mistake.
Purchase orders, invoices and more: The integration of your eCatalogs with your BMS allows you to quickly create Pick Lists and transfer them to your BMS to create quotes or invoices, which can be either printed and given to the customer, or transferred directly to an OEM’s backend ordering system. In addition to speeding up the sale and ordering process, this helps you keep your inventory up-to-date.
Customer information: The integration enables you to store customer information so you can service your customers efficiently the next time they come in the store, and in-between visits, when you keep in touch via timely and relevant email marketing campaigns.
Depending on which eCatalogs you use, integrating with your BMS allows you to identify your selling price, as well as the inventory level and the bin location where a given part resides. You can quickly create an invoice, a warranty claim, a purchase order, or a work order. Bottom line: You streamline the transaction process to get back to what you do best — selling more parts and service.
Getting online customers to buy now and buy more
eCatalogs and website integration turns your dealership into a virtual 24/7 parts and service counter, enhancing the customer experience to generate more sales.
When you offer online visitors the ability to research, find, and purchase parts, they can quickly pick the right part, the first time, and either have it shipped or pick it up in-store. Many dealers encourage their commercial customers to go to their website at night, then look up and order the parts they need. This way, they can come into the store first thing in the morning to pick up the parts so they can install them before their grounds maintenance workday begins. No business interruption means happy commercial customers, and happy customers come back. As icing on the cake, these dealers often offer complimentary coffee and donuts to those early birds in appreciation for their business and loyalty.
Take your customers’ lookup experience up a notch and include short videos showing how to handle a repair. For example, a customer needs to replace a brake cable and visits your website to order the part — with the added bonus of being able to link to repair videos or manuals that walk customers through the process. These videos or manuals can also help close the sale, reassuring customers that a repair procedure is easy enough for them to perform. On the other hand, if after watching a video, your customers decide that they would be best served by having your trained, certified technicians handle the work on their behalf, they can schedule an appointment online. It’s a win-win for both your dealership and your customers.
One of the main benefits of integrating your eCatalogs with your website is that you can also include the manufacturer’s suggested equipment maintenance schedule for the customer’s reference. This feature can result in additional parts sales or scheduled service appointments. Speaking of service appointments, while providing access to parts catalogs may be advantageous for some customers, others may simply decide if they want to attempt the service on their own. If you promote your factory-trained service department and offer a discount for scheduling an appointment, you may convert some of those parts sales into a profitable service order.
If you have an eCommerce-enabled website, integrating your electronic parts catalogs with your BMS allows your dealership to maintain customer-specific information designed to facilitate and speed up the buying process. Simply put, returning online customers can immediately recall the model number of their equipment, previous purchases and suggested fast-moving parts for replacement on that specific piece of equipment. For example, if your customers want to prepare their snow thrower for the upcoming season, they can simply log into their account on your website, select their model from the list of equipment they own, and immediately choose the correct part for their snow thrower. This transaction was hassle-free. Your customers didn’t have to guess whether or not this replacement part was going to fit, or wonder if they had made a mistake. That’s what the integration of your eCatalogs with your BMS can do for your business. Your customers will not only appreciate how easy it is to buy from you, but they will most likely come back for future purchases and share their positive experience with neighbors and friends.
Leveraging and integrating technology-based solutions helps your dealership do business more efficiently and facilitate the customer buying process and ownership experience. World-class customer service means more new and returning customers — more sales and profits.
Campion Jaques has nearly 40 years of experience in publishing manufacturers’ technical documents. Early in his career, he developed microfiche systems for many of the major OPE manufacturers and subsequently published the industry’s first electronic parts catalogs in 1991. As Director of Content Services at ARI, Jaques works with manufacturers worldwide to enrich and publish data for their distribution channel. He can be reached at (877) 798-8260 or Jaques@arinet.com.