PiHUB – transforming retailers’ online accessories business

When we launched PiHUB, our accessories ecommerce platform, we knew it had the capability to deliver online business for retailers in a way that was never before possible due to the complexities of data collation, accuracy and management. Six months later and we have transformed the online accessories potential and performance for our dealer users.

The issue

Retailers have struggled to deliver more than a cursory online accessories business mainly due to complex data sets and inadequate integrations which meant data input and uploading was largely a manual task. Previous hand cranking of marketing and managing online accessories sales took up vital labour hours and increased the risk of wrong keying leading to pricing and description errors which in turn eroded margins. 

The solution

PiHUB automates the data collation and upload process with updates made in the system feeding all integrated marketplaces including Amazon, eBay and Shopify as well as the group’s own website. Previously, only a limited number of accessories could be uploaded since it was a time consuming manual process, now the full range can be marketed online with sophisticated automated data integrations and management. Obsolete lines and overage items can now also be sold online.

Retailer benefits

Beyond enabling dealer groups to deliver a comprehensive and efficient accessories ecommerce strategy, the benefits of the platform have proved extensive.

  1. Automated data management frees up the time of parts department employees, eliminates human error and inconsistencies whilst increasing speed to market and widening the availability of accessories for sale
  2. With data quality proven, dealers have newfound confidence to market accessories online in the knowledge that pricing and descriptions are accurate with updates including manufacturer amendments automated 
  3. Retailers we work with have utilised their online accessories shop in conjunction with sales and marketing teams to boost upselling to new and used car customers with items quickly identified and flagged ahead of vehicle handover with fitting arranged before collection
  4. In addition, direct marketing to the database with timely and relevant communications has driven traffic to the online accessories shop where orders have been placed and bookings for the dealer to fit made 
  5. The data fed into the PiHUB platform is used in multiple online marketplaces including Amazon, eBay and Shopify enabling customers to search, find and order parts and accessories further afield
  6. Obsolete and overaged stock is cost effectively marketed to a much wider audience boosting the likelihood of a sale and reducing the need to write-off

The learning curve

As with any new technology, learning curve by us the providers and our dealer users has been insightful enabling us to both enhance our offering and provide the benefit of experience to groups now making the first steps when establishing a full online accessories website.

  1. Retailers do have to invest in an effective PPC strategy and website optimisation incorporating targeted campaigns to ensure the right customers are driven to their ecommerce accessories shop
  2. An efficient ‘pick and pack’ strategy needs to be in place covering the logistics of distribution including identifying individuals who will be responsible for handling enquiries, fulfilling orders and ensuring onward delivery to the customer 

For us, the lessons are ongoing and we continue to evolve our platform accordingly which will give dealers even more confidence in partnering with us. Some of the key findings are outlined below.

  1. The data is complex and different from one brand to another so there is no one solution that fits all which means we evolve the platform and strategy to cater for the demands of individual brands
  2. We have built up good experience of working with APIs and linking into marketplaces such as Shopify, Amazon and eBay whilst at the same time building up a roadmap for product development
  3. Multi-branded websites drive more customer engagement as customers are able to browse different accessories for various brands in one place
  4. Web agencies don’t have the capability, experience or desire to upload parts and accessories data due to its complexity but by forging strong partnerships between ourselves and agencies, PiHUB plugs that gap enabling their dealer clients to offer online accessory sales on a scale that was hitherto unimaginable 

The future

There are several areas where we are enhancing our platform and earmarking features for development including obsolete stock management. We are looking at how we overcome issues surrounding stock not listed in the supply chain and how we build in additional delivery time if a part is out of stock. 

We are also reaching out to OEMs to support their dealer networks to sell more accessories. We will also build trade hubs so to enable dealers to transact direct with their own and external bodyshops easily which can be extended to retail enabling stock to sell faster and shift obsolete items quicker across both national and global markets thereby generating more business.

How we can help

For dealer groups with an online accessories shop in place, PiHUB automates the process enabling entire accessory lines to be offered for sale with an automated process and improved data quality. Manually uploading accessories information to the online space inevitably results in a significant level of incomplete data, PiHUB completes that data and simplifies the process in a cost effective way. 

For retailers without an online presence, our insights mean we can provide a guiding hand in terms of establishing an ecommerce function from partnering with trusted suppliers to helping develop the pick and pack process.

Parts commercial lead and business analyst William Hornsey, who has led the development of PiHUB, said: “This is a boiling hot topic at the moment, we are having positive conversations with dealer groups looking to upload their stock online. Our solution has been well received because it solves a specific problem. As with most new technology and advances, the earlier the adoption, the higher the likelihood of success.”

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