There’s no debate: Online truck parts buying is happening, but not without its challenges. Truck part purchasing demands the correct specs. When you have websites offering a single, blurry product image, with specs that are kind of correct, you roll the dice on an attractive price for a part that may or may not fit.
“We hear stories all the time of, ‘I thought I ordered this part from some website, but what showed up in the box was something completely different, or I thought it was the complete kit, but what I got was actually one landing leg or something like that,’” said Ken Clinchy, vice president of digital and ecommerce, FleetPride. “That’s why when we digitized our giant catalog, we also continued to add digital assets, things like diagrams, things like vendor supporting information, warranty information, all of the other things that a customer’s going to want to be able to feel secure that they’ve chosen the right part.”
Searching for parts online is more than just typing a number into a search box, particularly in the heavy-duty truck market where parts can be very specific and detailed. You can’t just punch in the make, model, and engine and expect the right parts to pop up. Instead, digital platforms are trying to blend different search methods, like using part numbers, cross-references, and detailed filters to narrow down options.
There’s also still lots of value in the parts and service relationships you’ve spent years cultivating. When fleets hit a snag in their search, they should be able to reach out to a trusted partner, be it through a phone call or even a website chat feature that’s operated by an actual person, not a generic customer service rep or bot. The same expertise that helped you with your parts buying challenges in the pre-digital world should be there in the digital world to offer the kind of insight that only comes from years of working at a parts counter.
We talked with Clinchy about how the heavy-duty parts buying world is evolving and what fleets should expect to see when buying parts online. Watch the video above for all his insights.