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Activant Interview with Don Pilkington of XL Parts, Houston, TX

“AConneX is a huge win for us and our customers.”
XL Auto Parts
Conversation with Don Pilkington, VP Sales and Robert Roos, Marketing Manager

Management at XL Parts in Houston, Texas (19 locations, 98% wholesale), began its search for an eCommerce pipeline provider in October 2002. After rejecting several hopefuls, they found CCITRIAD’s AConneX and MyRepairShop fit their needs. They started doing business through their own Web site in May 2003.
The first 2 months of the process was slow. Lots of customers expressed interest, but few were actually buying parts through the Internet. “We had 50 customers using AConneX at first,” says Don Pilkington, Sales VP. “Around 15 were regular users, buying parts multiple times a week.
With the belief that customers who tried it would not only like it, but would increase their business, XL management designed a special promotion, a contest in early Aug in which every order placed through AConneX was entered into a drawing for $100 prize every day for 2 weeks. Working closely with MRS, it took their salespeople a couple of months to learn the program & sell it. “We gained speed and momentum at the same time we topped the learning curve,” explains Robert Roos, Marketing Manager.
“After the promotion, our transactions doubled and our volume quadrupled. We’ve been setting records every month since.” The smallest monthly increase has been 15%.
“We’ve seen some of our larger customers get on the program and grow their volume even more. We think we have a wonderful customer doing thousands and thousands of dollars a month. Then, he gets on the program and his purchases go up. A customer who has been with us since we opened has averaged $7,000/month all along. Now that he’s online, his monthly volume averages $8,500/month. That’s a 20% increase. We’ve seen at least 10 customers with results like that.”
It’s been even better with some of their smaller guys. “One shop that got on with us early has doubled his volume from $3,000 to $7,000 a month. We’re getting lots of compliments from customers regarding how fast the system works, especially in the past 30 days.”
“The return rate for customers buying online has gone down by 20%. When they look up their own parts, they answer their own questions in the catalog. Now, instead of ‘send me both’ they take the time to answer right so we only have to send one part, the right part.”
“We did slightly over $50,000 electronically in the month of September. AConneX passed Telepart usage. We had some transfers to AConneX from Telepart, but it’s mostly a new group of customers. We’re moving enough volume to save the cost of a counterman. Since AConneX costs a lot less than the 3.5% a salesman costs us, we’re increasing productivity and saving money.”
“We’ve gotten great support from CCITRIAD. It takes a little work to get off the ground. But once it got going, it’s been a huge win-win for us and our customers.”
“Once you get people started, they won’t stop. They really like the instant access to pricing and availability. And, they can use it 24/7.”



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