John MacDonald, our founder, started this company in the trunk of his car delivering and servicing brass fitting cabinets in automotive repair shops in 1949. He drove from business to business and put product on their shelf. Over half a century later, we realize how sidtant this model is from the way we do business today and how it seems so far from where we want it to be in ten years. Taking orders by writing down product numbers and faxing or calling them into customer service now seems so antiquated in this digital world.
Our then Vice President Drew MacDonald (the founder’s son) said in 2008 we needed to be on the internet. I fought it stating our customer base is not ready. He pushed and pushed for years. In 2015 Drew MacDonald, now CEO and myself set out to the B2B online conference in Chicago to venture into the online world. After the first day of speakers, Drew and I had pizza and beer of course (we were in Chicago) to discuss the day. We both looked overwhelmed at what we realized we did not know. He kept saying “the unknown, unknowns”. The unknown is the scariest part about this venture. After day 2 and a few more beers I said to Drew “we either have to hire someone with knowledge or outsource this project.” I knew as marketing manager it would be too overwhelming to manage both areas.
For years we have known we needed to have an online Ecommerce system and thought we knew what we needed. A good online software, Right? Wrong. That would be too easy. Finding the right software to fit your company’s unique structure is difficult. We partnered with Andy Didyk from Ntara of Johnson City, TN to take us through this journey. They performed customer and employee interviews to determine our unique needs and recommended software and it revealed our weaknesses.
Everyone has dirty data. What I mean by that is bad descriptions, no descriptions, vague descriptions in your internal system. Before Ecommerce, our customers didn’t see this dirty data. Having a PIM (Product Information Management) software helps to keep the standards, aids in clean-up, saves the team time. 87% of buyers said they would be unlikely to repeat a purchase with a vendor who provided inaccurate product information. The example I just love…
Our Ecommerce Team lead by Misti White has been cleaning data for 5 years and constantly working toward improving our data integrity.
Many internal challenges have come to the surface during this journey - Sales tax, Credit card processing, contact management, freight pricing, etc. Keeping a focus on the customer experience is key. We built our site based on what our customers said they needed to do business.
Our search engine is our No. 1 priority with 90,000 parts we offer from hundreds of primary suppliers. This is not retail; customers are not ordering just one part – they are ordering multiple variations of products and their transaction must be seamless.
This journey that Drew began has now taken our company to the next level and his ecosystem vision is putting us in a strong competitive position.