Craig Cervenka is senior manager for business development at Edgenet and was OEM relations manager for PowerSports Network. Dealernews enlisted Dealership University's Rod Stuckey, who spoke with Cervenka about the importance of having a robust e-commerce operation. Cervenka is conducting a series of seminars on e-commerce at Dealer Expo 2012.
Rod Stuckey: What are the biggest e-commerce challenges dealers face?
Craig Cervenka: Dealers are having a very difficult time keeping current with new and evolving technology. The pace of technological changes is accelerated. The way that the Internet works has evolved significantly, even as recent as the past six months. Most dealerships don’t have an IT director. Without an IT director, how can we keep current with new and evolving technologies?
The other thing is that customers’ shopping behaviors continue to change, and the dealers are having a very difficult time keeping on top of those changes.
Customers are shopping from their mobile phones now -- from apps. They have the ability to shop from social media sites. The other thing, too, is that dealers are starting to get more competition from their own suppliers. It’s almost become easier to buy from suppliers than it is a dealership.
What are the most effective e‑commerce best practices?
Cervenka: When we look at some of the most successful e‑commerce stores in our industry, most have a dedicated staff or e‑commerce director who helps guide and manage their e‑commerce efforts. The top five to ten have a dedicated parts and accessory business.
It’s completely independent of day-to-day operations. We’re talking about a very dedicated effort toward managing and succeeding in e‑commerce.
What trends can help dealers generate more e-commerce traffic?
Cervenka: Rod, the number-one thing that I’m going to promote at the 2012 Dealer Expo is localized shopping and localized product results. What’s happening is that Google and Bing are offering free services for dealers to list their dealerships. It’s a service where dealerships can submit the products that they sell, as well as their inventory levels and pricing, to Google and Bing in order for customers to find their products that they have available. This free service can help generate more traffic and more sales for their store.
What are some tips that can help dealers run successful e-commerce programs?
Cervenka: Look at their partnerships with distributors and make sure that they understand all the resources that their existing suppliers have. Is there a drop-shipping program? Make sure that they’re set up with a distributor that will drop-ship directly from a warehouse. In many cases, that’s one or two days away from where the customer is. The customer is a lot happier when she gets her order next day or two or three days at the most, versus a week.
Also, there is a third-party fulfillment company in our industry, World of Powersports, in Decatur, Ill. I think that they’ve got an order fulfillment program that any dealer can sign up for. That’s another way to ensure that they’ve got the products — that aren’t normally stocked — easily available.
This story originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Dealernews.