“As an industry we have to realise our customer base is getting younger and more tech savvy.
From a young age they are used to searching for things online and they use this expertise in their purchasing strategy. My 18 year old daughter will rarely visit a shop to make her purchase but instead looks online to compare price before ordering.
Even we oldies are getting in on the act; my wife buys nothing before checking online with the likes of Amazon to ensure sheâ€™s getting the best deal.
So why should our industry be different?
In Europe the end user is more and more likely to purchase a part online and either pay the garage to fit it or hire ramp space and fit it themselves. This is putting pressure on our traditional business strategy and means we have to embrace the new technology at our disposal.”
Simon Salloway, AMK
“The increased prevalence of social media within the industry means that we are now able to communicate in a more direct and immediate way with our customers, as well as potential customers.
Social media platforms â€“ such as Twitter (@densopartsuk), which we use on a daily basis – have led the way for questions to be asked and answered almost immediately.Â Our customers can also benefit from direct access to an entire team of people, from our sales team to our technical experts and marketing teams.
In doing so, we are able to communicate a wide range of information including technical â€˜top tipsâ€™, details of our latest promotional activity, new catalogue launch dates, as well as all of our latest news.Â We now have the capabilities to answer questions relating to product or technical issues, helping both factors and mechanics to build a better understanding of Densoâ€™s offering and our latest technologies.
For us, social media means being able to have a continual dialogue with our customers, an invaluable tool for building long term, quality relationships â€“ the key to continued growth and development.”
Paul Payne, Denso
“Gates already uses YouTube to increase awareness about various drive system maintenance techniques including some installation procedures. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are gradually being added to the mix to increase interactivity with those who currently contact Gates with technical issues or product related questions.
Our online support service already provides immediate access to solutions on technical application issues. Upon registration, users receive notification about drive system updates. This includes OE upgrades to components, changes to installation procedures and the publication of new technical bulletins by Gates.
Social media networks are a natural extension to this and offer opportunities to broaden interest in our preventive maintenance policies – and that’s an exciting prospect.”
Nick Racklyeft, Gates
“I think overall the aftermarket has embraced the internet itself extremely well. Â A lot of companies have been extremely successful setting up online businesses and add on’s to their existing set ups. Â I don’t think social media has been embraced as much. Â However as a company our new brand SIMPLY which has its own dedicated site www.simply-brands.com has Facebook, twitter and RSS feeds built into it. Â However only time will tell if it is a success or not. Â This has mainly been put on this site as it will become an export brand as well as UK based and we believed it was important internationally to have these facilities built in and to show that we were proactive in seeking all avenues of marketing and interaction with the end users even though we will never supply direct to the end user.
As a company we use the internet a lot. Â We send out monthly promotional leaflets via email to all of our customers (as well as hard copies to cover both bases) and email approx 50 percent of our orders to suppliers (mainly overseas) we would love to make this 100% but we found orders were going missing. Â Again we do have the facility to email invoices and statements to customers but again found this only works in hand with paper statements and invoices. I think after we have the SIMPLY site up and running to its full potential we will look at adding the social media aspect to our standard business site.
With regards to using the internet as a tool to bringing people to the door I think retail outlets only have to look at the big guys and the successes of reserve online and collect in storeâ€¦Not only do you create an online presence you then have the ability to add more value by selling other products when they come into store.”
Ollie Page, JRP Distribution
“At Delphi, digital communications including our website, online customer portals, enewsletters and marketing information notes are critical, cost effective solutions allowing us to quickly communicate and interact with our customers. Digital communications play a significant role in our overall communications strategy. We use these tools to keep customers up to date on the latest new to range and first to market products, new OE technologies and innovations, installation and service repair procedures, updates to our diagnostics tooling platform, as well as general company news.
In April, we hired a social media manager, who will develop and launch Delphiâ€™s social media strategy to the global market. Aligning this initiative with our â€œeasy to do business withâ€ customer approach, Delphi sees this additional marketing tool as collaborative customer communications to interact with and learn more from our customers.”
Mike Rayne, Delphi