Online Retail in Detail Part 2 - Contractors are Buying

As the trend toward internet shopping grows and regulation could be looming, consumers are enjoying the convenience benefits while the burden on small business owners is only beginning. Learn why contractors are buying online.

Parts Photo 2 11148569

Over the past several years, consumers have researched their purchases online more and more. Along with the trend toward internet research before a purchase, the number of consumers who choose to ultimately buy their products online has also grown.

Outdoor power equipment parts have become a big online seller. A simple Google search for “buy lawnmower parts” draws over seven million results in less than half a second. A mix of manufacturer, dealer and aftermarket parts websites lead the results. Sites like offer replacement parts for outdoor power equipment and household items, along with DIY tutorials.

Contractors are buying

Many contractors are taking advantage of the growing ease with which they can purchase parts online. Reid Altavilla, fleet director for Ruppert Landscape Inc. in Laytonsville, MD, says the company purchases parts through a variety of avenues including online, dealers and manufacturer-direct. Through internet research they hunt for the most competitively priced items available. Part of their decision to purchase online is also the added convenience it offers their efficiency-focused business.

“Online purchasing enables us to do the research ourselves in a timeframe that works for us, whether that’s 5 a.m. or 11 p.m.,” says Altavilla. Jerry Clay of Clay's Power Equipment in Raleigh, NC, agrees that time savings and a dealer's hours of operation are a big incentive for contractors to buy online—especially since contractors are always looking to increase productivity.

“Time is the main benefit for the contractor,” says Clay. “Instead of the owner or a key person coming into the store to order, and perhaps even having to come back to pick up parts not in stock, they can order online and have items shipped directly to the business. That means increased production and improved efficiency.”

However, there are many instances where Ruppert Landscape trusts in their local dealer for a necessary part. While there is a lot of added convenience that goes with an internet purchase, the sometimes necessary consultation isn’t always an option online.

“We do online purchasing for many items, but there are some that still require more involvement on the other end to make sure we’re getting the right part and the best part,” explains Altavilla. “Often when ordering online, there’s not the expertise there to help problem solve. If it requires support, we’re typically not going online to place the order.”

Cick here to read Internet Retail in Detail Part 3 - Dealers and Contractors Working Together