Mazda is giving dealers software that links a dealership's Web site to Mazda North American Operations' centralized parts inventory, allowing dealers to boost accessory sales without the cost of stocking more parts.
Shoppers who order a roof rack or one of more than 8,000 other accessories online can pay by credit card and have the part sent directly to them or to a dealership for installation. The transaction is processed through PayPal, with a link to UPS for shipping.
At Park Mazda of Wooster, southwest of Akron, Ohio, which sells 20 to 25 new vehicles a month, the software has helped boost accessory sales by about $1,500 a month, said Nick Soranno, the dealer principal.
The sales go beyond new-car buyers, he said.
"We have some people who bought on the used-car side and were trying to accessorize," Soranno said. The software has helped the dealership "infiltrate the Fast & Furious segment," he said.
A few years ago a dealer approached Mazda North American Operations about selling parts online. Outside vendors were offering to set up such sites for dealers for hefty fees and leaving dealers to administer the system. He asked if Mazda could set up something on dealers' behalf.
Mazda was hesitant, recalled James DiMarzio, chief information officer at Mazda North American Operations: "We said, 'We don't want to sell the customers.' So we compromised. We said, 'We'll set it up and help you put it in front of consumers, but in a way that faces your parts manager and parts department.' "
The software, developed by IBM as part of its WebSphere Commerce initiative, is a simple template that links to existing dealership systems. Mazda North American Operations says dealers typically spend 15 to 30 minutes answering the interactive installation questions, call Mazda to make sure everything is correct, and then go live a day later.