April 11, 2005, 12:00 AM

Web sales climbing fast at Four Wheel Drive Hardware

Overall sales at Four Wheel Drive Hardware rose 52% in 2004 over 2003, driven by a sharp climb in sales on 4WD.com, COO Henk van Dongen tells InternetRetailer.com.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Overall sales at Four Wheel Drive Hardware rose 52% in 2004 over 2003, driven by a sharp climb in sales on 4WD.com, COO Henk van Dongen tells InternetRetailer.com.

“E-commerce has been growing rapidly and now accounts for 26% of our sales,” van Dongen says. The 28-year-old company, which sells products ranging from floor mats to parts for bumpers and transmissions for Jeep-branded motor vehicles, also sells through catalogs and a single store at its headquarters in Columbiana, OH.

Four Wheel Drive Hardware has not offered incentives to migrate customers to the web, but strives to offer a consistent shopping experience with prices and service in all channels, van Dongen says. Its web site, 4WD.com, provides live chat and RichFX-powered virtual catalogs. “Our philosophy is to have a consistent message,” van Dongen says. “If a customer wants to shop on the web one day and the next day shop over the phone, the experience should be the same.”

The retailer has taken steps to make online customers feel online shopping is as safe as in a store. It has increased conversion rates by displaying on its site the “Hacker Safe” logo from Scan Alert Inc., which provides assurance that a customer’s personal information cannot be stolen by criminals trying to hack into the site’s customer databases. “People see the logo and feel more confident that it’s a safe site,” van Dongen says, adding that 4WD.com conducted A/B testing of site visits with and without the logo. “It has led to a 7% improvement in our conversion rates, which is worth about $200,000 a year.”

In addition to 4WD.com, Four Wheel Drive Hardware owns Performance Products, which operates several web sites and catalogs selling parts for trucks and Porsche and Mercedes-Benz cars.

 

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