Fleet management continually wrestles with the right parts inventory to avoid downtime and to assure its customers that the truck will be there on time with the load or for the pickup.
Finding the right part at the right price to get the job done can be a time-consuming and expensive issue. We turned to Steve de Laet, a distribution business veteran of 30 years and co-founder and chief marketing and sales officer for PartsRiver, to understand the situation and a possible solution.
Overall, he contends, fleets have limited ability to exercise effective parts procurement control and are unable to compare pricing or inventory. The primary reason: the inability to efficiently locate out-of-stock parts or find alternates. With this month’s launch of PartsRiver.com, the e-commerce marketplace for heavy-duty truck parts, fleets now have an avenue to find and buy parts from multiple sellers.
“This is the industry’s first true online marketplace with all the functionality of consumer marketplaces,” de Laet said. “Parts buyers will be able to request quotes, find alternate parts and place orders with sellers, saving time and cost. Today’s buyers are more accustomed to buying online, and we offer a complementary channel to the traditional local market.”
The company has built a database of more than nine million parts, cross references and VMRS codes that provide a massive parts resource to identify who can buy parts from local and national sellers.
Buyers can find and buy parts two ways: if a seller has an e-store, PartsRiver.com will direct the buyer to the right page in the store. When sellers list their parts/prices on the website, the order will be processed and sent directly to the seller for shipment.
Parts buyers can search, find and buy multiple parts from multiple sellers quickly, the company noted, and they can request quotes to attain the best price. PartsRiver.com also offers sellers custom full function e-stores that leverage the company’s parts database and search technology.
PartsRiver, founded in 2000, helps companies improve efficiency in parts procurement and inventory management. Services include data cleansing, enrichment, VMRS classification, cross-referencing and now e-commerce. Parts data management benefits fleets with multiple maintenance locations and fleets with more diverse equipment.
Current customers include four of the major truck OEMs, one large package delivery service, and many significant private motor carriers. The company’s successfully managed parts data is ideal even for large fleets, many with multiple maintenance facilities.
According to de Laet, “Companies know they have a [parts inventory] problem and don’t know how to solve it. In some cases there will be 200 to 300 part numbers for the same part and variances of 300% to 400%.
“We’re able to clean the data and save fleets as much as 20% in total parts spend by managing the parts master on an ongoing basis, managing supplier updates for both parts and pricing,” he said.
One large carrier saved “over $100 million” with the data management system, noted de Laet.
“Remember, truck parts sales are business to business (B2B),” he said. “Buyers are looking to buy something now for a reasonable price from a reputable seller. If there was ever a time to become an online leader in the heavy-duty truck parts market, this is it. It doesn’t matter what size company you are to develop a loyal following online if you understand what is really important to the online marketavailability, fair pricing and dependable service.”