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Nov. 10, 2008 – Suzuki seeks to bolster e-commerce sales

November 10, 2008
Filed under Features

American Suzuki Motor Corp. is hoping to generate more accessory and apparel e-commerce business for itself and its dealers in the coming year with a new partnership.
The manufacturer announced at its recent national dealer meeting that it will begin selling Genuine Suzuki Accessories via Shopatron, a California-based e-commerce company that works with more than 500 manufacturers and 10,000 retailers.
The new partnership will allow consumers to order accessories and apparel over Suzuki.com. Those orders will then be filled by dealers, which will either ship the ordered goods or provide them to the consumer at the dealership.
“We have a Web site that generates a significant amount of traffic, and the majority of that traffic is headed to the accessory side of the Web site,” said Gary Sherfey, manager of American Suzuki Motor Corp.’s powersports accessory group.
Sherfey notes that Suzuki has been unable to convert those Web site shoppers into actual buyers. That will change as the new e-commerce program comes online, which is expected to be in the first quarter of 2009.
“Everything will be driven through our dealers,” Sherfey said of the new online system.
The process will work like this: A consumer will make an order at Suzuki.com and then when “checking out,” choose whether to receive the order in the mail or pick it up at the dealership. Dealers are alerted of the order via an e-mail alert or a cell phone text and then are allowed to “bid” on the order. The bidding is actually called “Physibid,” which stands for Physical Inventory Bid and indicates whether a store has the ordered product in stock and if they are willing and able to ship the product that day, or provide in-store pick-up on that day.
The winning bid will go to the dealership that has the wanted merchandise in stock and is the closest in proximity to the consumer. Unlike traditional bidding, there is no financial component tied to the bidding process.
Can a dealer “bid” on an order if they only have a few of the items the consumer has ordered? Ed Stevens, CEO and founder of Shopatron, says that will depend on the consumer. Online shoppers will be given the option of whether to allow the orders to come in multiple packages. If they allow multiple packages, then Shopatron will let more than one dealer successfully bid on the order. If the shopper declines multiple packages “to save on shipping,” Stevens said, “then we will allow only a single package.”
Dealers who successfully bid on orders and then wind up not being able to fill them do face possible consequences, Stevens says. “Sometimes we need to work with dealers to do a better job than they’re currently doing,” he said, pointing out that dealers “can be removed if they don’t follow the rules.”
Stevens also notes that such occasions are rare.
“There’s not much point for the dealers to do it because if you do something bad with one order, you could lose years worth of future orders,” he said. “So there is no incentive for a dealer to do something badly.
“Shopatron kind of nestles into being one of the fundamentals of business once you’ve been using it. It’s something that is there everyday that you can use and make money from.”
To use the system, dealers face two fees, one from Shopatron and one from credit card processing companies. Stevens says Shopatron charges 3-4 percent of the order’s total purchase price while credit card fees usually are around an additional 2 percent.
Dealers who sign up for the program receive free phone or Web support and training.
“Unlimited and free support and training is an important thing for dealers that are a little slower on the Internet, a little bit more tentative of turning on the computer,” Stevens said. “So we just embrace that and say, ‘Call us. We’ll teach you how to do it.’ Once you know how to do Shopatron, it’s simple. You click on some orders. You print out some packing slips. You ship things. People come into your store. It’s not rocket science.”
Besides the free training, dealers also have access to an online report that shows what has been the hottest Suzuki.com product selling within 250 miles of their dealership as well as nationally. That report is updated every 90 days.
Dealers who sign up for Shopatron can start getting orders before the Suzuki project gets online as several other powersports manufacturers are already using the system.
Did you know?

  • All Genuine Suzuki Accessories and apparel on Shopatron will be priced at MSRP.
  • Shopatron says 55 percent of its consumers try the in-store pick-up option.
  • Twenty-five percent of in-store pickups result in additional in-store sales, Shopatron says.
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