Vittore talks selling wheels and tires on eBay, Amazon
Just about anything can be bought and sold on the internet these days, but does it work for wheels and tires? Traction News spoke to Vittore Wheel & Tire about selling via eBay and Amazon and how they have made it a success.
From traditional retail to online
Vittore Wheel & Tire is the e-commerce division of JP Thomas, which is also the parent company of successful tire retailer Thomas Tire. The North Carolina-based company has been around for more than 30 years, and Vittore was born out of a dream to provide the state’s motorists with the best prices on all tires.
Fast-forward to today and the business sells wheels and tires all over the country. How? Primarily through eBay, where they started selling tires in 2003. Now they also sell through online retail giant Amazon and, of course, Vittore’s own site.
“We opened up a warehouse to better serve the retail stores with better product and inventory, and that led to wholesale and ecommerce (sales),” said Vittore Wheel and Tire online division manager Ryan DeBari. “We took a product overstock mentality and started from there.”
The majority of Vittore’s sales come from tires, then wheels and some suspension products, all mostly in the performance and off-road area. DeBari said the current main sellers are import mud terrain tires and the original equipment replica segment of wheels. Sales through eBay count for around 85 percent of Vittore’s e-commerce business, with Thunderer tires and Jeep SRT8, Dodge Hellcat and GMC OE replica wheels its best sellers.
The challenges of selling online
While online sales might seem like a straightforward proposition, it has its own unique challenges. With slimmer margins and buyers using the internet to find bargains, DeBari said having strong buying power is paramount — as is the offering itself.
“You’ve got to have something that no one else out there is offering, or you have to have great prices,” he said. “You have to have excellent shipping prices to really stay competitive as well. After the product itself, shipping is our number two cost, and when you’re shipping to Canada across the U.S. and U.S. territories, you can be eating into those customer savings just by getting the product there.”
He said the wheel industry “dried up” in 2008, but things have turned around in the past four or five years. The company’s focus has shifted from low profile and extreme performance to the off-road segment, particularly supplying rural areas whose retail stores don’t have the capacity to stock a large range of products. Vittore is also moving its online sales to its new branding — Ready To Mount — which will help it move further into the off-road segment that has become its mainstay for the past couple of years.
While shipping can be complete in a matter of days, it is the most crucial element of online sales, DeBari said. “It’s amazing, the turnaround you can achieve, but it’s all about getting the order out the door,” he said. “You want to have a good price and good customer service but your turnaround time is vital. You can easily lose loyalty, especially in the tire world, because people buy their tires and then it might be three years before they need another set, so you need to capture that opportunity.”
If you’re interested in selling tires through Amazon, eBay, or other digital channels, call Tireweb Marketing on (212) 634-4846 for advice or visit www.ezytire.com for more information.