How WHI Solutions Powered by Nexpart is Helping Automotive Repair Shops Increase Sales and Productivity
Ratchet & Wrench sat down with our own, Michael Schuurs, Director of Operations, & COO, to discuss our extensive history in the automotive industry, championing the ACES standard, and how with Nexpart Multi-Seller, repair shops can perform a lookup and view parts from all their favorite vendors on the same screen, making parts buying easy.
Also, please find below detailed transcript of this conversation:
Matt Hudson: Welcome to this Ratchet and Wrench quick chat. Thank you all for joining today we’ll be discussing WHI Solutions, the company’s evolution, and where they’re headed as a trusted company in this industry. I’m Matt Hudson, I’m the Group Editorial Director, with Ratchet and Wrench. Today we’re speaking with Mike Schuurs. He’s the Director of Operations and COO at WHI Solutions, your Nexpart partner, Mike, thank you for joining us.
Mike Schuurs: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure for me to be here.
Matt Hudson: Absolutely, to start, could you maybe just give us a bit about your background and what you do professionally?
Mike Schuurs: Yeah. So, out of college, I was a kind of a finance geek, and was working for a company that got acquired by WHI solutions back in the early 2000s. From there, I was mostly in the kind of the customer support customer onboarding arena, which I stayed up until fairly, fairly recently, when I was asked to step up and pick up other responsibilities for managing the business, particularly around sales, product management, along with the, you know, the continuing responsibilities that I had around customer support, customer onboarding, so, so I had a long tenure with the company, it’s been a great, great ride company has been very supportive. And I loved every minute of it.
Matt Hudson: So awesome. Well, we’re gonna test your experience and knowledge here today. Okay. Let’s jump into some of your leaving e-commerce solutions. And let’s get into it. Speaking about your business, how’s that business evolved over the years? And what are some of those pivotal moments that shaped its direction?
Mike Schuurs: Well, great question. There have been, you know, going back into why is history there have been several pivotal moments that have kind of shaped our path and led us to innovation and success. One early moment was when we made the decision to collaborate with parts manufacturers, empowering them to take ownership of their catalog data and establishing industry standards for sharing that data in what we call a unified format. This move was a departure from the long-standing labor-intensive data entry approach used previously. As a result, we developed and later champion what is now known as the ACES standard. Now a widely adopted industry norm, it allows us and other catalog providers to consume data electronically from these manufacturers. And the result was it substantially improved the data accuracy and speed to market. Another pivotal moment in our history was bringing them to the market the first business to business e-commerce solution for auto parts suppliers called next part. Now next part allows shops to buy from their suppliers electronically over the web, leveraging our world class catalog data to look up parts by vehicle type and part category.
Today, Nexpart transacts over 5 billion in parts orders annually and connects into most of the buy and sell side management systems in the market. Integrating the park supply chain from manufacturer all the way down to service dealer. We take immense pride in this achievement and the positive impact has had on the industry, as a whole.
Another significant moment in our journey was the establishment of a strategic partnership with eBay, which led to their acquisition of WHI in 2012. This acquisition allowed us to join forces with an influential and globally recognized business in the E-commerce space has further strengthened our capabilities and provided us with an opportunity to reach a broader audience for our solutions. However, more recently, we introduced the new version of next part called Nexpart Multi-Seller, which vastly improves the buying experience. For many years, our E-commerce technology revolved around facilitating relationships between parts buyers and their individual parts sellers. However, with next part Nexpart Multi-Seller, we took a revolutionary stepper for variety parts and buyers with the ability to look up parts for a vehicle and see price and availability from all their suppliers in a single view. This innovative approach has significantly simplified the parts sourcing process for shops, saving valuable time and previously spent searching for parts online which can now be focused on customer care. Overall, these pivotal moments have been crucial and driving our company’s growth in forging our commitment to continuous improvement and customer focused solutions.
Matt Hudson: So speaking about some of those pivotal moments, what are some of the and we move into maybe talking about today a little bit more? What are some of the industry challenges that you’re facing these days?
Mike Schuurs: Well, there are there are many, right? So certainly, one of the significant ones we face as a company is managing our growth effectively. In the automotive technology sector, there is no shortage of opportunities, potential projects, enhancements that we could potentially pursue. However, we firmly believe in a customer centric approach to growth, making sure that we are growing our customer service successes along with ours and mutual partnership. So it’s kind of a win win scenario, if you will. Therefore, we focus on specific endeavors that align with that value and executing them with the utmost care and attention. quality and excellence are at the core of our values. And we understand that delivering exceptional results requires concentrated efforts on worthy projects, so we can allocate the necessary resource to ensure each individual’s initiative success. Striking this balance enables us to deliver value to our customers stay true to our principles and drive sustainable growth in the business and in the industry. Another challenge for us and for the shop is that they sought to pick up the phone to call their suppliers for various reasons. Whether it is processing a return, make sure the parts will be delivered on time, or even negotiate better pricing, thereby creating kind of an opportunity for us as a company to develop ways for those types of transactions or interactions to occur online and kind of help drive our future growth. We are also experiencing significantly more competition, the advent of catalog standards that we actually helped foster and lower cost internet hosting solutions have made a substantially easier, it’s great e-commerce sites that sell automotive parts. Therefore, we have to kind of continuously innovate and iterate in order to separate ourselves from competition and continue to to drive the growth in the business that we’re expecting.
Matt Hudson: Yeah, and as you mentioned, I mean, you’re in a rapidly changing field of business and a lot of innovation is needed to succeed in that business, I’m sure. Are there any enhancements that will assist technicians to better diagnose issues and address some of those challenges that you’re facing?
Mike Schuurs: We’re actively queering that community for ideas and feedback. But one of the most significant challenges faced by technicians today revolves around the complexities of actually finding the right part for the repair. The advent of manufacturers, there’s so many different parts that you know, could actually fix that vehicle, we need to give the parts buyer the right guidance in selecting that part. Supply chain has also been subject to considerable turbulence in recent years due to various factors like COVID, cars, inventory shortages, inflation and rising interest rates. As a result, service advisors are often confronted with the pressure of completing repairs properly for a roomful of customers, leaving them with limited time to conduct extensive parts searches. Interestingly enough, when technicians are on the hunt for the right part, they kind of make buying decisions based on how fast they can get the parts. The part warranty provided by the supplier competitive pricing you name it, there’s a number of different factors. However, the conventional approach of searching for parts on individual supplier sites can be very time consuming and inefficient. So, this is where next part multicellular kind of comes to the rescue. It offers service advisors a seamless and user-friendly solution to simplify the parts search process mentioned earlier. With Nexpart Multi-Seller service advisors can perform a lookup and view parts from all their favorite vendors on the same screen, enabling easy comparison and selection. They can also filter out suppliers that don’t have the desired quantity brands they don’t trust and conveniently sort results by price and other criteria to narrow that selection even further. However, prior to Nexpart Multi-Seller, technicians had to perform multiple lookups in separate tabs for each supplier is tedious process involves switching between tabs A for vendor A. The next half are vendor B, the next half are vendor C and so on. If they didn’t find the desired part on the first try, they had to repeat, repeat the entire lookup process in a new tab with a different supplier site. Therefore, Nexpart Multi-Seller streamlines this cumbersome experience, eliminating time and effort wasted on redundant searches. Service advisors can now focus their attention on providing excellent service to the customers competent the knowledge that they can efficiently find and source the right parts at the right price without compromising on quality or delivery speed.
Another challenge facing shops is knowing whether these parts they’ve ordered online have actually slept the supplier and when they will arrive. This is a major reason why repair shops still need to call their supplier. We’ve developed solution in partnership with Elite Extra who are known for their delivery tracking solutions to provide delivery tracking information to shops, but only a handful of the largest suppliers have adopted it so we need to do more as a business to drive broader adoption for this feature with the suppliers on our network. Another challenge for repair shops is the lack of automated returns handling most suppliers do not provide an easy way to return parts electronically so the shop has to call the supplier to arrange a pickup. Moreover, there’s no easy way for repair shops to track the returns once they’re picked up to make sure they can get the proper credit terms of supplier. This is another major pain point for repair shops that we feel confident we can address are looking ways to solve for it in the very near future.
Matt Hudson: You mentioned partnerships like going with the Elite Extra there’s they’re so important in this business of course. How do you guys’ foster partnerships and collaborations in the industry? And how has that benefited the business that you do day to day?
Mike Schuurs: Well, great question. At WHI, integration and collaboration are at the heart of our ethos, and a significant driver of our success in the past. We have a true proven track record of seamlessly integrating with most car dealer and warehouse management systems used by the sellers, as well as the shop management and procurement systems used by buyers. Our catalog is also integrated into most third-party systems, and we active collaborate with various partners on a variety of diverse initiatives to provide robust solutions. One great example of this is like it was talked about the collaboration with elite extra by integrating their cutting-edge delivery tracking technology. In the next part, we have empowered parts buyers to access real time delivery tracking information and providing valuable insights into the expected delivery times for their orders. This integration ensures that our shop buyers can schedule repair jobs accordingly and set proper expectations for their customers as to when their vehicles will be ready. really key for these guys. These collaborative partnerships are a win win for all involved. They foster faster innovation, and also help us deliver enhanced experiences to our customers in a shorter period of time. So that’s, that’s really crucial. We especially cherish the type of partnerships that bring about meaningful benefits to our community. By continuing to forge such collaborations we can further our mission of providing the best possible solutions to our customers, leveraging the expertise of our partners to create an ecosystem that drives success and mutual growth.
Matt Hudson: So jumping to maybe speaking about what’s next for you all a little bit, what is your vision, excuse me for the future of the business? And what steps do you take to achieve that vision?
Mike Schuurs: Well, number one, our aspiration has always been and will continue to be to be the E-commerce platform of choice for both the part buyer and the selling community. One aspect we take immense pride in is in the unwavering consistency and reliability of our network. Our commitment to delivering a top-notch experience to our customers is reflected in the significant investments we’ve made over the years, totaling millions of dollars to bolster our hosting security and technology redundancy. This dedication to maintaining a robust and dependable platform kind of sets us apart from the other e-commerce players in the market, at least in our mind. humble mind that is, however, we understand that investing in state-of-the-art data centers and cutting-edge technology is essential to meeting the ever growing demands of our customers and ensures seamless operation and world class uptime on the platform that’s super important that you know next port has to be on 24/7. Everybody knows that everybody relies on it. And so that’s really kind of a hallmark of what we what we try to accomplish. However, as we move forward, our primary goal is to continue providing that same level of reliability that has earned us the trust of the community.
In addition, we remain devoted to increasing inventory breath on our network providing innovative solutions to solve buyer pain points like better delivery, tracking returns handling, and staying ahead of industry trends to deliver a superior experience that our community has come to rely on. We remain committed to pushing boundaries, providing unmatched services and revolutionizing the automotive parts industry, one buyer and seller at a time. With a steadfast commitment to excellence and a focus on delivering the best possible service. We feel confident that our platform will continue to thrive setting new benchmarks for features and reliability and delighting buyers and sellers on the platform with the best e-commerce solution in the industry.
Matt Hudson: Excellent. Well, we appreciate that in depth look at what you all do some of the innovations you’re doing and, of course, what you’re working on for the future. And I think that’s a good place to wrap for today. But thank you so much, Mike, for joining us. Thank you to the viewers for tuning in. And I’ll see you next time.
Mike Schuurs: Awesome. It was great to be here, and I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today that was really rewarding for us. So, thank you.