The online parts-buying experience just got better, says Steve de Laet, chief development officer for PartsRiver. “The new generation of buyers” among truck owners and technicians “is demanding a [consumer-type] experience” in online parts buying. “We’ve taken the plunge,” of a fashion, he adds, “to put the [business-to-consumer] experience into the heavy-duty truck parks market.”
De Laet believes the new PartsRiver.com, announced at a press event at the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting in Nashville this week, will amount to a “revolution” in the parts-buying experience, providing a parts-look-up and -ordering engine similar in some ways to what get from Amazon.com searching, say, for a new digital camera or other gadget. Look up a truck part by part number, manufacturer, category or name in the online marketplace and the engine ultimately returns not only a single part from a single seller but can make differentiating among parts with similar numbers easy by make and part category, cross-reference workable parts of different makes as well as reman alternatives, and give options for delivery and potential local outlets where the part may be found.
All in all, the hope is to dramatically reduce the time spent by buyers on the phone attempting to find the best price for an item in the most optimum delivery window.
Requests for quotes on bigger-ticket items can be managed by buyers within their PartsRiver.com accounts (there is no charge for maintaining an account — the site makes its money on percentage-based transaction fees and other charges to sellers for premium placement).
The company is also building proprietary eStores for individual sellers whose results will likewise be shown in the engine, and PartsRiver has integrated outside vendors’ parts into results. The first of this month the company launched its first fleet-specific eStore as well, says de Laet, offering a sophisticated, easy-to-use tool to maximum the number of contract parts purchases. “In a lot fleets,” he said, “buyers 40 percent of the time are buying parts off-contact.” In fleet eStores, the PartsRiver engine allows technicians and other buyers to easily identify contract purchase points to “channel as many as possible of the orders to the contracts,” De Laet adds.