Linda Ramsey is the vice president of marketing at foodservice products distributor Parts Town, which is approaching $2 billion in sales. She will speak at next week’s EnvisionB2B Conference & Exhibition on a panel covering B2B social media strategies. In this Q&A article, Ramsey discusses how Parts Town has grown through innovative digital commerce and marketing.
Digital Commerce 360: What is driving B2B companies like Parts Town to expand online?
Linda Ramsey: Everyone is a consumer at heart, and the lines of B2C vs. B2B ecommerce are becoming blurred. Our customers expect the same features and benefits for their B2B shopping experience as they see in their B2C shopping experience. At Parts Town, we strive to make the parts ordering experience easy, educational and efficient for our customers, so applying a B2C approach to our ecommerce options is a natural fit. As our customers demand new and improved digital capabilities, our approach to new and expanded digital offerings will continue to evolve.
DC360: What are the chief gains you’re realizing?
Ramsey: In 2021, we enjoyed 33% annual revenue growth, hitting more than $1 billion for the first time. We have carried significant growth and momentum into 2022 and expect to grow to over $1.8 billion in revenue this year with continuous innovation, new acquisitions and partnerships, new investors, international expansion, and new master distribution programs with industry-leading manufacturers. Much of our growth has come through ecommerce and digital marketing.
Parts Town also recently reached the milestone of 200,000 downloads of our app, the first and number one mobile app in the industry. With the Parts Town app, customers can search and purchase the right parts, track their order, read and save equipment manuals, chat with a Parts Expert, view interactive diagrams, and check out all from wherever they are working at a desk or in a commercial kitchen.
DC360: What is the most valuable piece of advice you have on how to launch online B2B sales or increase them?
Ramsey: Innovation is part of our culture at Parts Town. We are always looking for ways to improve our customer experience and make it easier for customers to find and buy parts. Although we are a distribution company at heart, we are an innovator first and a digital company that happens to provide distribution solutions. Allow your business the grace to innovate, test and evolve. The best way to improve online sales is to keep providing more tools and an easier experience, investing in innovation and digital marketing. We continue to grow because we know how important those investments are.
DC360: Regarding COVID-19 and supply chain disruption, what is the biggest adaptation your company has made?
Ramsey: Parts Town has invested more in inventory than ever before to make sure we meet the needs of our customers. We’ve continued to review how we stock and order parts using website data and other proprietary information to stay ahead of what our customers need.
From a team perspective, we’ve had to get creative with how we hire and scale our business. Our team had to quickly reshape how we interview candidates to maintain the experiential and human elements critical to cultivating our workplace culture. From setting up ‘drive-thru’ hiring events to reorganizing our distribution center floor to accommodate socially-distanced candidate tours of our facility (thanks to innovative safety protocols adapted by our existing team members), our team remained committed to keeping our workforce culture and core values at the center of our hiring practices.
To continue to scale, we’ve added a lot of automation during the pandemic to accelerate the time from order to shipment.
DC360: What excites you the most in new digital commerce technology?
Ramsey: Everyone says AI, and I’m going to say it too. The ability to scale our business, how we market and how we make parts easier to find, identify and purchase can all be improved through predictive data. I am excited to see the unique ways we will use AI at Parts Town.
DC360: Going forward, what do you see as the most significant commerce challenges and opportunities?
Ramsey: As digital trends continue to evolve at a B2C level, our customers will expect those same things at a B2B level. Keeping up with these evolving demands will continue to be our greatest challenge – but also our greatest opportunity.
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