Online Retail in Detail Part 3 - Dealers and Contractors Working Together

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 how dealers and contractors can work together.

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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.

Ways dealers and contractors can work together

For those dealers looking to compete against the online marketplace, Reid Altavilla, fleet director for Ruppert Landscape Inc. in Laytonsville, MD, has a few suggestions for how to do so. “Provide quick delivery, no delivery charges, and be a technical and training resource for us (contractors), which is a real value-add,” he says. “Also, have an active presence on the web and a website that is intuitive and easy to navigate. Dealers that have their parts inventory listed on the web can make purchasing feel much the same as from houses that sell strictly online.”

At Ruppert Landscaping, it also has a lot to do with the dealer relationships and the benefits that go with them. If equipment dealers show the worth of their service, and how a partnership has more value than the convenience which online purchases bring, contractors might choose loyalty to their dealer.

“One of the biggest advantages of working with a dealer over purchasing online is the vendor relationship that develops,” says Altavilla. “Dealers often conduct in-house training for us, and if we have a broken piece of equipment or a recall, they will give us a replacement so it doesn’t damage our productivity.”

Jerry Clay of Clay's Power Equipment in Raleigh, NC, agrees that it’s the dealer-customer relationship that can help keep dealers from being hit too hard by the online trend. Dealers provide a valuable service in addition to product.

“Online sales hurt some dealers, but the majority of most dealer parts sales are always going to come from your customers who are coming into your store,” Clay says. “They are coming to us for advice and someone they can have a relationship with. A dealer has to provide that value to his customers to keep them coming back for parts.”

Click here to read Online Retail in Detail Part 4 - Manufacturer Policy and Regulation