King declined to divulge many details about how Tasca became an industry outlier.
"I'm not going to tell everyone exactly how the soup is made, only that it tastes delicious," he quips.
But the group's success underscores the revenue potential in an oft-ignored area, says Mike Rich, marketing director for RevolutionParts, which develops e-commerce platforms for dealerships. The company has nearly 2,000 clients in North America.
RevolutionParts directly integrates dealership websites with automakers' parts catalogs, supplying all the required parts data and images. The company also can integrate websites with eBay and Amazon to reach an even wider audience, Rich says.
"Historically, a lot of dealers ignore online sales," he tells Fixed Ops Journal. "In general, parts is one area that receives the least amount of light. But COVID-19 lifted the veil a bit and showed dealers the importance of selling parts online."
In fact, sales generated by RevolutionParts websites grew 28 percent in 2020 compared with 2019, to a record $420 million.
"We can get dealerships up and running quickly — usually within 30 days — with a platform that's optimized to provide a world-class shopping experience," he says.
The price of RevolutionParts' subscription website service varies, but it averages around $550 a month, Rich says.
Providing a great customer experience is one ingredient in the secret sauce that keeps Tasca's online sales humming.
"For the most part, the customer experience sucks when they buy parts from dealerships," King asserts. "But our customers are the reason we come to work."
The other ingredient is a financial trade-off: Lower prices yield smaller profit margins but also amp up volume, King says.
"People are price-conscious," he notes. "They don't want to spend $800 on, say, a side mirror for a Ford F-150 if they can get it for $650."
Tasca sells parts worldwide, King says.
"We'll send a cigarette lighter to a little old lady in Kansas City or a 40-foot shipping container stuffed to the brim with parts to Australia," he says. "If anyone in the world wants to buy a part, I'm happy to sell it to them."
On a local level, the auto group creates a virtual boundary — a "geofence" — for its online marketing efforts to avoid cannibalizing in-person parts sales at its dealerships, King adds.