Feb. 8, 2010: E-commerce provider sees sales acceleration in fourth quarter

By Neil Pascale
ARI, a Web site and e-commerce provider, saw something in online sales last year that the rest of the industry did not see in conventional retail sales: an improvement.
ARI CEO Roy Olivier says the company’s e-commerce sales that include more than 350 dealers increased by a double-digit percentage throughout the third quarter and into the fourth quarter of 2009.
“We started to see some acceleration in growth toward the end of the year, and we think that’s a great sign,” Olivier told Powersports Business. “We believe we will continue to see nice double-digit growth in online powersports user sales for 2010.”
Besides the increase in e-commerce activity, Olivier also discussed the company’s transition through its major 2009 acquisition of Channel Blade Technologies, a CRM provider, and its new 2010 products. The latter will include an update to PartSmart, an e-commerce software tool that is used by more than 20,000 dealers worldwide.
“We have several new initiatives in terms of adding new features in 2010 that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the parts department, cut their costs and help drive the additional revenue by helping them find the right parts very quickly,” Olivier said.
The increase in e-commerce activity within powersports also figures to play a key role in the public company’s growth in 2010.
Olivier says ARI’s e-commerce dealer sales grew nearly 17 percent in the third quarter of last year. As a comparison, the Department of Commerce reported U.S. e-commerce sales increased nearly 2 percent over the year-ago quarter.
That acceleration in e-commerce powersports sales only quickened later in the year. Olivier says ARI’s October powersports sales grew by 21 percent and by 25 percent in November over the year-ago month comparables.
“We think we’ll see more people shopping online, more dealers using products like SearchEngineSmart to drive more traffic to their Web site, and we’ll continue to see automated tools to capture visitor information and nurture market those customers to drive them back to their site,” he said.
Olivier also said ARI continues to make progress on its key 2009 acquisition, the Channel Blade Technologies CRM product that at the time of the acquisition was probably more well known in the marine industry than in powersports.
“We’ve been able to take Footsteps, their lead generation and CRM product, into powersports and we’re making great progress with that product,” he said. “We’re showing month-over-month increases in sales with that product in powersports.”
The Channel Blade Technologies acquisition also has allowed ARI to gain ground in the marine industry.
“Probably not surprisingly we had a very specific financial plan associated with cross-selling products into the two companies’ customer bases,” he said, “and to date, we’re well ahead of our plan, and we’re making great strides.
“On a go-forward basis with 2010 and beyond, we’re investing in a completely new version of Footsteps, which I think will bring some more flexibility to fit the varying sale structures being used by dealerships out there.”
The next version of Footsteps is likely to be available this summer.
—Neil Pascale

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