No one – not manufacturers, not distributors, not retailers, and definitely not consumers – likes dealing with a part or accessory return. Returns are a hassle, and even if you charge a restocking fee, returns are typically a net loss.
So, to maximize profits and minimize hassles for you, your supplier(s), and your customers, it’s a good idea to prevent returns by confirming fitment.
A Phone Call Confirming Fitment Saves Time and Money
If you get an order for a part or accessory that has a specific fitment, call the customer and ask to verify their vehicle information. You can do this by asking the customer for their VIN (and then looking up the vehicle info), or you can do this by asking the customer to confirm engine size, cab size, trim level, and so on.
This fitment phone call has a few benefits:
- It makes sure that you send the customer the actual part they need, eliminating the possibility of an upset customer who ordered the wrong part
- It gives you a chance to go the extra mile with the customer and start building a relationship (see “word track” below)
- It reduces the possibility of the customer claiming the part doesn’t fit after the part has shipped
NOTE: If the customer provides a VIN during the checkout process, and/or very specific details about fitment, then a call is probably not necessary, and may in fact annoy your customer.
How To Conduct Your Fitment Verification Call
Here’s a word track to help your staff make the fitment phone call go as smoothly as possible.
“Mr. Customer, this is Bob at Bob’s Auto Parts. You ordered a part from us earlier today, and I had a couple of things I wanted to let you know. First, I want to thank you for your business from myself and everyone here at Bob’s. Second, I want to make sure we send you the exact part you need. Do you have just a minute to verify a couple details with me?”
“Great! I wanted to call you because I hate it when I order a part that doesn’t fit my vehicle. Usually, I don’t realize until I’ve started to work on my vehicle, and then I’m pretty irritated. Anyway, I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. I can look up the exact part we need to send you with your vehicle VIN. Do you have that number handy?”
This word track explains the purpose of the call, and lets the customer know that this call is for their benefit.
Some customers may be annoyed by your call, but most people appreciate the reason for calling, and some will be very appreciative of the extra effort.
But We Don’t Have Time To Call Every Customer
When we talk to our clients about calling every customer that places an order for a vehicle-specific part or accessory, some of them say that calling every customer would take too much time.
While it’s fair to say that every company is different – and that some companies really aren’t able to call every customer – there’s some simple math you can use to determine if calling makes sense.
- Let’s assume every fitment verification call takes three minutes to complete, start to finish.
- Let’s also assume that processing a return takes about 30 minutes to complete, from the return authorization request, to any emails or phone calls you have with the customer, to whatever work has to be done to complete the return with our distributor/supplier.
If you find an ordering mistake on every 10th call – and prevent a return each time – you’re going to “break even” as far as time is concerned. Additionally, if you assume each return results in a small financial loss, than each mistake you find “pays you” for your time.
Not to mention, many customers will use the phone call to ask questions about some other aspect of their order, compliment you on your diligence, and even ask if it’s too late to add more parts to their order!
Summing Up – Calling Is A Best Practice No Matter What
We’ll leave you with one final thought: If you call every single customer and thank them for their business, you’ll probably make more money. Most great sales organizations have a process for calling each and every customer after a transaction is completed, and there’s no reason NOT to do this if you’re an ecommerce retailer.
Second, if you use these thank-you calls as an opportunity to prevent a return and build some goodwill, you will definitely make more money.
Want more auto parts ecommerce tips like this? Download our new ebook, “Getting Started Guide for New Parts Etailers.”