Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Tyre purchasing has traditionally been an offline affair in Australia, but Jax Tyres spotted a valuable opportunity to take its business to the ecommerce space. And over the past 18 months, the retailer has rapidly gained a competitive lead in the industry thanks to its digital edge.
With 15 million Australians currently driving cars and 7 million shopping online every month, it’s surprising the local $5 billion tyre retail market has largely ignored ecommerce – until now.
According to a recent report released by Roy Morgan, about 360,000 Australian purchase an automotive product online. Google Trends also shows that since 2007, Australians are increasingly looking to buy tyres online. On top of this, roughly 18,000 tyre-related searches are being made in Google every month, excluding brand or tyre dealer searches.
JAX Tyres found 75 per cent of its own customers actually search online for tyres as their first point of call, before buying online or in store. And with Australians boasting an average 3.1 connected devices, consumers are now able to make purchases whenever and wherever they like, making the push towards an ecommerce strategy vital.
Enhancing the customer journey
In order to meet these shifts in in consumer behaviour, JAX Tyres has been on a three-phase journey to become an omni-channel retailer and enhance the customer journey. It has overhauled its entire digital approach with the help of marketing and communications company, Salmat. As the company became more focused on digital marketing, Salmat also provided solutions to help bridge the online and offline environments.
The latest step in JAX’s digital transformation has been creating a new ecommerce platform. The new digital space provides customers and JAX retailers with direct access to real-time prices for 13 tyre brands and 18 different wheel brands, plus stock levels, appointment availability and promotional offers, using the JAX data silo.
It also gives customers a more personalised digital experience, by allowing them to see if their chosen tyres will fit their car and their wheels, while making sure tyres are rated for the speed and safety specifications of their vehicle.
“We developed quite a lot of algorithms on our digital platform to not only get the pricing right, but most importantly to match the right product at nine different price points for every car in Australia with a legally acceptable fitment,” JAX Tyres CEO, Jeff Board, told CMO.
Customers can choose from more than 15,000 tyres and wheels for up to 184,000 different vehicles, view stock availability and book an appointment at their nearest JAX Tyres store or an accredited dealer. The new system also integrates more than 20 disparate supplier systems into one platform, assisting with stock inventory and management for franchisees while enabling more choice and transparency for customers.
In order to upgrade the entire customer experience, the franchising company recently installed JAX Touchpoint tyre selection devices in-store and plans to roll out media tablets and JAXTV.
A new series of television commercials have also hit the airwaves and the company has increased investment in public relations, search engine optimisation and social media.
“We deal with a company called Levo, which does great product matching, and we have a long-standing relationship with Salmat, which has transformed the online component of our project,” Board said. “Because we have this rich online database, we make use of in-store devices now, from tablet forms to touchpoint screens, so consumers can come in and just choose their own products.”
Within two hours of launching the new website early last year, JAX had already made its first online sale. Less than a year onwards, the company is recording double-digit sales growth every month, with the majority of sales occurring outside normal business hours. July and August set new records for revenue following the launch of the new ecommerce functionality in April.
The responsive design is mobile-optimised and in just over a month, 35 per cent of customers were already visiting on mobile devices. According to Board, Jax is seeing a 1 per cent incremental increase in mobile device usage by its customers every month, while customer mobile and tablet usage combined is in excess of 50 per cent.
But increased customer use of mobile and smartphones also resulted in something Board said JAX had not expected happen to the customer journey.
“Customers are walking in, armed with their mobile device, saying I want these,” he said. ‘I know you’ve got them, I know what price it is, and I know they fit my car. The feedback we’re also getting from our franchisees is that customers seem to trust a machine to deliver information more accurately than they trust a person giving them customer service advice.”
Maintaining the competitive edge
According to Hitwise data, JAX is earning proportionally more traffic than its competitors and punching above its weight in search.
“For us, the positive aspect of the site is that organically it is very good and the SEO within the site is very strong,” Board continued. “But we never set out to be the number one website in the industry because we knew we’d be targeted. We’re not the biggest players in the field. But we ended up number one and generally maintained that position, and we quite like being on top now. Certainly our franchisees are very proud of it.”
Despite the successes, Board admitted it will be a challenge to stay ahead of the game, especially with Google switching more to map-related search functionality.
“People will be searching less for ‘Tyres Bondi’ and more for ‘tyres near me’,” he said. “We have to keep our relationship with Google very strong.”
One of the pressing challenges moving forward is to adapt to the increasingly complex tyre choices available for modern cars.
“We’ve had to enhance that data silo to ensure that search capability is available,” Board explained. “That will be released at the end of this month.”
Employing more than 500 people across 81 locations, JAX has added eight stores in the past year, and plans to add another nine in the next 12 months. In 2015, Ernst & Young nominated Jeff Board for Entrepreneur of the Year.
“To be fair, it has been a journey of luck – and some people say you make your own luck, and we’re surrounded by some very good people,” he said. “But I think for a little old Aussie industry, we’ve kicked a winning goal on this one.”
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