The Uptime Blog
A new report from Gartner indicates that e-commerce is the hot new trend in discrete manufacturing. The report says that, “E-commerce can be used for the direct sales of new products, services, digital goods/ content, replacement parts, accessories, entertainment, travel and much more.” Three items stand out in this list: services, replacement parts and accessories. Each of these items represents a new sale related to an existing product or piece of equipment (already owned by an end customer). In other words, e-commerce is changing the aftermarket.
Manufacturers typically start down the e-commerce path by implementing a few limited, tactical projects. Once there has been some success, initiatives get bigger and more strategic until e-commerce is ultimately viewed as a “mission critical” component for the entire business. According to Gartner, e-commerce is now viewed as an imperative for discrete manufacturing and to meet corporate expectations a consistent approach, across all departments, is required.
For discrete manufacturing, the Gartner report describes two business opportunities that are driving e-commerce: 1) create direct sales to counteract competitors and private labels; 2) reduce the cost of sales and marketing activities/ materials (printing and distribution). Gartner says, “…interest by both groups [revenue and cost] in online selling may have started with the sale of spare parts or accessories, and the groups are now moving on to selling the products.” In other words, allowing dealers and technicians to place online orders for service parts has proven to be so efficient and so valuable that OEMs are now opening up e-commerce to more products and additional customers. Gartner’s findings reflect a similar trend that Enigma sees where customers follow a multi-phase approach to making product, service, and parts information available online, offline and mobile.
The Gartner report tries to measure the interest in e-commerce for discrete manufacturing according to three different dimensions of business impact:
- High heat—reflects the level of interest observed during client inquiries and market analysis
- High rate of change—described as, “how fast organizations are changing their websites to improve the amount of sales coming through the websites”
- High customer-facing business potential—described as, “the degree to which an organization’s customers expect a company’s website to offer online transactional capabilities and their willingness to buy through the Web”
As the report from Gartner clearly indicates, more and more industries (like discrete manufacturing) are turning to their websites for increased revenue, reduced cost and better customer support. Enigma has 20 years of experience helping companies turn the promise of e-commerce into a reality and a recent webinar on electronic parts catalogs (EPC) freely shares the lessons we’ve learned over that time.
The aftermarket is not immune to the current economic climate; the slowdown in the automotive sector, for example, is obvious and understandable. But the fact that aftermarket trade shows and conferences such as InterlogWinter and Service Parts Inventory Management & Reverse Logistics Summit are still going strong is a good sign that companies see the importance of the aftermarket to their bottom line.
InterlogWinter, the leading conference for the aerospace, automotive and heavy equipment industry, will be held next week, with approximately 200 attendees. (In case you’re wondering, yes, Enigma will be there, at Booth #13). The agenda is robust, with presentations from companies like Cummins, Pratt & Whitney, and Briggs and Stratton, on topics such as “Multiple Moving Targets: Servicing Different Products At Various Stages In Their Life Cycles To Deliver Top Notch After Market Service.”
The Service Parts Inventory Management & Reverse Logistics Summit is now in its third year, and growing, with an agenda that includes presentations such as “Improving Business Relationships and Customer Support by Streamlining Service Parts into an Online Catalog.”
Even in an economic downturn, companies want to invest in technology that will increase efficiency and cut costs. In the manufacturing aftermarket, most OEMs want to improve relationships with their dealer networks by making it easier for their dealers to do business with them; to do otherwise would be to miss revenue opportunities.
What we are hearing from our customers and prospects is that they cannot afford to keep doing business as is; they need the latest technology solutions to keep pace not only with their competition but with customer expectations.
We are hearing that outsourcing an online catalog to a third party is just not cost-effective anymore, because it costs more than keeping it in-house, and it takes too long to send out catalog updates to their dealer network.
We are seeing that most companies have e-commerce systems, such as Oracle iStore, in place to facilitate parts ordering; but those companies are now seeing the value of integrating their e-commerce system with a compatible electronic parts catalog.
Recessions come and go. But the need to do more, better—to compete—never goes away.
Because it’s that time of year when thoughts turn to shopping (for those of you in the United States, the infamous “Black Friday,” the shopping day after Thanksgiving, is just 7 days away!) it seems apropos to do a podcast that illustrates how easy it is for dealers to use the InService Electronic Parts Catalog shopping cart functionality to order OEM parts.
The InService EPC shopping center is user-friendly and intuitive; simply search by models, part number or name, create a shopping cart, then fill it up by selecting on parts. The Shopping List displays those parts being ordered by the user and is associated with a specific shopping cart. Users can update a shopping list by removing parts, changing quantities, or adding additional cataloged or non-cataloged parts. One can even create multiple shopping carts that can be defined and re-used to accelerate the creation and submission of parts orders.
The shopping cart also supports a variety of dealership information, such as a unique logo, billing address and shipping address that is included in each parts order, whether electronic or hard copy. In terms of e-commerce integration, dealers may be allowed to track their parts order by connecting to an eCommerce site from within the Enigma shopping center (access to the e-commerce site is dependent on the level of customer authorization.)
For more information, download our InService EPC fact sheet.
OEMs want to sell more parts to their dealer networks, and the dealers want a simple way to order parts; therefore, it’s not surprising that the shopping cart features of Enigma InService Electronic Parts Catalog are highly valued by our customers because they help dealerships order OEM parts easily. The following podcast demonstrates how shopping carts contain information such as part number and description, price, quantity, and notes/comments, as well as dealership information (such as the dealership’s unique logo and billing/shipping addresses.)
Enigma InService EPC customers usually integrate their shopping carts with a back-office e-commerce system, which facilitates parts order tracking and fulfillment. The carts can be viewed online, emailed to someone, or printed out as a PDF file. The shopping list displays those parts being ordered by the user and is associated with a specific shopping cart. The shopping list can be updated by removing parts, changing quantities, or adding additional cataloged or non-cataloged parts.
Keep in mind that the shopping cart functionality allows specific customer information and parts requisition activities to be standardized. Each shopping cart includes information specific to each customer and/or type of order. Multiple shopping carts can be defined and re-used to accelerate the creation and submission of parts orders.
Take a peek at the product podcast and let us know what you think. If you want to see more, I’d be happy to set up a thorough web demo for you.