After years of frustration trying to efficiently sell used car parts online, Kevin Fullerton realized there was a significant opportunity to build an online community designed around the deal flow of buying and selling used parts. The result was PartingOut.com, an online salvage marketplace for used auto parts that operates on a visual platform of parts exchange, combining a yard management system with an open web-based platform. Its intention is to work evenly through both buyers and sellers.
Fullerton, PartingOut.com’s founder, has been buying, selling, and repairing vehicles since the age of 14. With considerable industry experience gained from the construction of his own auto shop and a used car operation currently run alongside his used parts business, Fullerton has insight that spans both sides of the used parts business. He and his daughter, Kalli Doubleday, make up the official PartingOut team, which is occasionally supplemented by additional family members.
With the recent hiring of RockSauce Studios in Austin, Texas — now responsible for taking the site mobile and enhancing design and user experience, targeting 100,000 users in the next 18 months — the team has been further rounded out. The hire is believed to be the company’s last major expense before PartingOut.com is fully self-funding through revenue and profits.
PartingOut.com approaches a market of around $20 billion, and looks to expand that market by improving the percentage of parts per vehicle. By operating on a smaller scale, the site will allow similarly smaller business operations to gain ground as they provide services overlooked as unprofitable by larger firms. Ideal users are those who have quality content, drive additional traffic to the site, and follow through on sales in a professional manner; target audiences could include anyone from auto salvage yards, new and/or used car dealerships, individual car enthusiasts, hobbyists, and collectors.
Initially, the focus was on top-tier parts — larger items typically comprised of the top 10 to 20 parts of a salvage vehicle. However, within the past year dominant competitors have either implemented or are working toward implementing second-tier parting. PartingOut stresses that unlike a company such as eBay, it is not an aftermarket venue. The company also claims that it beats eBay in both price and user experience in the main transaction phase, and provides a superior experience to Craigslist. Efficiency is significantly higher than email-based services, and customers who subscribe to specialized forums and clubs are often converted to do business with PartingOut after seeing its ease of use and exposure to qualified buyers. Other competitors include Car-Part.com, Hollander, and Pinnacle, all of which have high cost of entry and user fees.
With the pay-as-you-go-model, a PartingOut user encounters no up-front fees associated with site use. This allows consumers to make use of the marketplace as needed; as competitors are geared more toward professional inventory management, PartingOut.com’s relationship is that of an extension or a tool. Though a listing fee is being considered for future implementation, the only price point currently in use is a final sales commission set at 4 percent. Also in development is the “PAID PRO” model, which will allow multiple users to work under one company name, as well as the ability to assign these users different levels of privileges within the site. PRO users will also be able to enact a data capture feature through a subscription model, allowing them to discover the most sold or searched parts within a certain ZIP code radius.
PartingOut’s strategy addresses the problem of excess unsold parts, and provides sellers with additional revenue per vehicle without the added cost of inventorying the car parts themselves. “I have seen the big money focus on the large item parts […] but I have seen the cost of salvage go up and up and the percentage of parts sold go down,” Fullerton says, which he explained is a result of the selling environment and aftermarket parts availability. Though beyond top parts the aftermarket side is fixed, PartingOut’s goal is to alter the environment in which many part requests go unfulfilled. Its unique platform lists vehicles as whole entities, rather than by part. Buyers subsequently remove parts as requested and sell more after the purchase of the vehicle.
Through a rounded marketing plan consisting of SEO, social media campaigns (incorporating Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, and others), and travel to regional automotive recycling meetings, PartingOut.com has acquired just over 600 users at email verification phase to date. Approximately 50 have enrolled with a full account, with a great deal more anticipated with the launch of PartingOut’s first advertising campaigns with Hemmings.com and ClassicCars.com this past October. There are plans to expand into the market for boats, heavy equipment, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) before moving into areas like appliances and electronics. Taking the general nature of the idea of “parting something out,” the PartingOut team believes that if it can be broken down in a profitable way, it can become a category on the site.
The company is currently working through a beta model, waiving all user fees to ensure usability in early stages. The site is undergoing a mobile responsive and design upgrade that is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2013, which will coincide with a full launch.
Also on hand is an email list of 500,000 auto parts buyers and sellers that will start being marketed to as soon as the site testing and refining is completed.
This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Incubation Radar 2012