Innovative ordering

Spare parts ordering of tomorrow.

What makes the commercial vehicle spare parts market tick? What can be done better, faster and simpler? Wuppertal-based PE Automotive GmbH & Co. KG can look back on a history of around 70 years and is now firmly established as one of the leading providers in the independent commercial vehicle parts market. Nevertheless, the company keeps questioning the processes in the industry and investing time to find new solutions.

Innovative ordering

‘Making the complex simple’ is the overarching motto of PE Automotive. It is a maxim that has helped the long-established company become one of the global players in the spare parts market. The rapidly growing commercial vehicle spare parts programme of around 15,000 products has been developed in-house and is based on the highest safety, quality and manufacturing standards. The 50,000-square-metre logistics centre, which began operating just three years ago, ensures high availability and speedy delivery. PE Automotive has been a member of the BPW Group since the beginning of 2016 – an alliance that pools expertise in the commercial vehicle aftermarket and adds vitality to BPW’s promise of international mobility partnership.

Time for success stories

The latest milestone in this collaboration is the online shop specialising in spare parts for commercial vehicles that was set up by PE Data. As the Group’s software specialist, PE Data has been working on this cloud-based shop system since early 2016. The development process has also benefited from experience gained during two decades of research in the field of product and vehicle data. The comprehensive solution was first presented at the Automechanika trade fair in September 2016. Following an overwhelming response from the parts market, the PE Data team has now rapidly advanced the development of the system. “Our aim is to provide our trading partners with a webshop of our own that carries the complete programme of spare parts of all brands for trucks, trailers and buses. The system offers many forward-looking services and genuine added value for customers. With this ambition, we were able to achieve important milestones already in the first year: in the summer of 2017 more than two million spare parts were listed as available in the shop, and this figure is rising every month,” says Christian Freitag, managing partner of PE Automotive.

Innovative ordering
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A platform for every need

More and more trading partners are opting for the software from PE Data because they can inspire their customers with the system. Simple processes, an extensive portfolio and numerous functions for cross-selling also provide considerable potential for profitable growth.

The offer is consistently oriented towards the customer; ease of use is a common thread running through the online shop, which is naturally available for all mobile devices. All applications are self-explanatory and clearly presented. Workshop customers can intuitively search for spare parts and also view availability, delivery times and alternative product offers at a glance. This wide-ranging information is based on a vast in-house product database that also optimises the ordering process for workshops in terms of accuracy and speed. In addition, users can enhance their advisory and selling skills in the parts market by an optional chat function for example. This benefits all parties involved and is the result of innovative working methods that have been used intensively since the merger with BPW on the basis of joint innovation management. Methods successfully applied in Wiehl are now driving forward developments at PE Automotive as well – with excellent results.

Innovative ordering

New methods for innovative solutions

“Our online shop has already kicked off a minor revolution. We are the first independent provider to offer trading partners a shop system that enables end customers to accurately identify the needed spare parts using the vehicle identification number. This feature is entirely new at this level, as customers have usually had to pinpoint article numbers themselves or work their way through elaborate search functions. Until now, searches using the vehicle identification number have been exclusively reserved for brand manufacturers and contract workshops, while independent trading partners have needed to use workarounds. This is an absolute innovation for the independent parts market, and it immensely simplifies the procurement of spare parts,” says Christian Freitag, describing the distinguishing feature of the webshop.

Taking a broader view

Nobody at PE is content to rest on their laurels, though, and for the webshop developer team, creating new and further added value is a constant motivation. “Right now, we are testing features that will make the offer even more customerfriendly and provide additional information on products and their availability.” One of these test runs includes the integration of Alexa, the language assistant from Amazon. “In the years to come, developments such as Alexa will continue to change our purchasing behaviour. They relieve the customer of various bothersome intermediate steps. That’s the future. Imagine a mechanic with oil-smeared hands who can order the spare parts required simply using a voice command. Such systems already work surprisingly well, and are really easy to use,” says Christian Freitag. Speech recognition is just one of many ways in which PE is aiming to shake up the online spare parts market even more and give a boost to its trading partners. There are plenty of ideas for this purpose. In the coming years, together with their strong partners in the BPW Group, the team at PE will be significantly expanding their range of products and services for the global spare parts trade, and no doubt with a surprise or two along the way.

 

“We intend to make spare parts ordering truly straightforward for trading partners and end customers, by providing simple applications and market transparency. We have already cleared the first difficult hurdles on this path.”

Christian FreitagManaging partner PE Automotive GmbH & Co. KG