In 2016, three executives from a former Fortune 600 company—one of the biggest online players in the electronics industry— were discussing plans for future investments when an idea came to them: What if they created a modern online e-commerce experience dedicated solely to auto parts? Why not disrupt the $1 trillion a year automotive aftermarket and OE industry? Why not change the way auto parts are purchased online?
The trio already had ties to a partner with extensive automotive knowledge. With their distinct areas of expertise, it was a startup’s dream team. Each entrepreneurial pillar stood on their own with IT, Marketing, Automotive, and Operational backgrounds spanning over 100 years of combined experience. This diverse resumé was a perfect mix for reaching a strong niche audience with a modern twist
And so PartsHawk.com was born. The company’s “about” page best describes what happened next:
We’ve launched PartsHawk.com with one simple concept: to make buying auto parts simple, fast and affordable. Not just some parts… but MILLIONS OF PARTS… every part, every brand, for every car. You simply will not find the scope of inventory that we offer anywhere else.
To say the business model has worked would be an understatement. Along with their PartsHawk.com website, they have captivated a considerable audience with a 99% feedback rating on eBay and 4.5 stars on Amazon. PartsHawk has an impressive following of loyal consumers who are continually drawn to the company’s variety, dependability and outstanding service.
As the business has grown from a founding team of four to an ever-expanding array of employees and partners, PartsHawk has stayed true to its pledge to provide millions of parts with “crazy-fast shipping.”
As any experienced online seller will tell you, it’s not an easy promise to deliver on.
When asked what sets the brand apart, PartsHawk’s chief operating officer, George Ali, had this to say:
“Customers are expecting extremely fast deliveries, so we needed to establish very fast fulfillment. Fast shipping, in addition to a broad product catalog, is what the company is known for.”
Building a business around the promise of fast deliveries has always been a bold move for retailers. But in an era when two-day and same-day deliveries have become commonplace, it’s downright courageous.
“In today’s environment, the world is extremely transparent,” says Ali. “Consumers can get everything they want with one click, so it’s much harder to make sure we’re marketing properly to customers.”
For years, PartsHawk has relied on suppliers to keep millions of replacement and performance parts stocked and ready to ship. As anyone who’s worked in the e-commerce space knows, this business model is not for the faint of heart. Success hinges on having a steady flow of information between seller and supplier.
In fact, keeping systems in sync is the only way to ensure orders will be delivered efficiently and cost effectively, and that consumers will have a positive experience. Missing just one tech update from a supplier could cause a week’s worth of orders to be marked out of stock and loss of revenue — all because of one erroneous line of code. And not to mention an unpleasant customer experience, which goes against the values of PartsHawk’s founders.
And that’s just for starters. PartsHawk was also looking to expand its presence on marketplaces and launch new digital marketing strategies to put products in front of all the right consumers, at just the right times. Consumers today don’t have time to search for items for hours or days until it’s just right; they are looking for the concierge service, at the deal price, and even faster delivery expectations with each passing year.
PartsHawk was looking to push the limits of an online assortment and not settle for critics saying, “no one has been able to do this before.” The team has spent years continuously strategizing to perfect the upcoming launch of their new PartsHawk.com website.
In other words…
PartsHawk needed a strong technology solution.
The team tried several different e-commerce Marketplace Management Systems (MMS) to manage their catalog and orders but kept outgrowing the capabilities of those platforms. With their increase in demand came more intricacies that required advanced features and functionalities to be able to keep up with their growth rate.
“With previous MMS platforms we found small successes for starting up our online assortment but we couldn’t control product information or how items were advertised,” said Business Operations Manager Taymah Nau. “As we kept outgrowing each platform, we came to the realization that we needed a more robust and capable MMS tool that would give PartsHawk the flexibility to customize the system without disrupting our day-to-day online sales. We needed a system that could handle our assortment now and one that would mature with us.”
The time had come to move on. After exhausting the capabilities of previous platforms and wrestling with technology that didn’t meet the company’s needs, the PartsHawk team decided to see what they could do with ChannelAdvisor. It was a big move, but turned out to be the best decision yet.
“ChannelAdvisor turned out to be the right solution for us and, to this day, it continues to be the right solution,” comments Ali.
Before ChannelAdvisor, PartsHawk hit speed bumps in order to:
- Maintain consistent connections with suppliers
- Update costs from multiple suppliers
- Make product prices as aggressive as possible
- Adjust and auto-price large batches of products seamlessly
Thanks to ChannelAdvisor Fulfillment Services and a variety of marketplace management tools, things are running smoothly.
“[ChannelAdvisor] has made the entire process seamless for us,” Ali says. “It’s better to have inventory and order management in one location. We don’t have to worry about where things were coming from, and I don’t need a ton of staff to process orders.”
“With the seeds that have been planted since the inception of PartsHawk.com and the upcoming re-launch of our modernized automotive online experience, we are confident that the ChannelAdvisor platform will continue to help grow and set us apart in the automotive space,” said Nau.
ChannelAdvisor proved to be an effective automation tool in the online seller’s arsenal of e-commerce solutions. After integrating with ChannelAdvisor, PartsHawk has seen an increase of $6.5 million in sales when compared to the previous 12 months prior to ChannelAdvisor. Fast forward to 2019 and PartsHawk is on track for double digit growth. Moreover, in collaboration with ChannelAdvisor, PartsHawk’s SKU assortment has also increased — by an astounding 300%.
Ali attributes PartsHawk’s success to his team’s business savvy, adding that ChannelAdvisor complemented his company’s core strategies.
“We would credit ChannelAdvisor with providing us the tools to grow our business exponentially,” said Ali. “ChannelAdvisor allowed us the flexibility to create, modify, and manage our products to optimize sales across channels.”
After 20+ years of experience in the online tech industry, PartsHawk was able to find an online management systems partner that would let them customize their business tools and present a modernized automotive buying experience to their customers in an impressive short period of time. This has allowed them to focus on bigger opportunities to continue on this astonishing multi-channel growth.
“I have a standing meeting with our ChannelAdvisor account representative every couple of weeks to discuss trends and opportunities,” explained Ali.
When one of those conversations centered around growing the company’s eBay presence, PartsHawk put several ideas into action — and watched the company’s eBay business triple.
“ChannelAdvisor has enabled us to efficiently speed up our growth rate and positively adjust our trajectory, while maintaining a small dedicated team. Not only have we gained lead time, but we have also been able to keep resources low,” he said.
“In the automotive space, your catalog and size of your product is always going to be in the tens of thousands — or in our case — millions of parts. There are very few platforms out there that can give people the flexibility to manage a catalog that size. If you’re going to do auto parts right, it would be a waste of time with any platform other than ChannelAdvisor.”