Add Parts Town to the list of companies now participating in foodservice equipment and supplies-related e-commerce arena. The Addison, Ill.-based OEM parts distributor entered the fray in late September with the launch of Parts Town Marketplace that will make available a curated list of light equipment, smallwares, tabletop items, consumables and other products available for purchase.
“The products we are going into are the ones our customers are asking for. The customers are leading us into this,” says Emanuela Delgado, senior vice president and general manager of Red Lightning Group, a separate innovation incubator Parts Town introduced back in December of 2020. “For many years our existing customers have looked to us to add more products. We are focused on OEM parts, but we can get into these other areas by partnering with other organizations that are experts in this area. We can provide a digital platform with our existing customer base.”
Foodservice equipment and supplies dealers represent Parts Town’s target partners for this marketplace initiative, Delgado adds. “Many dealers are trying to figure out what their digital strategy is, and this could be a way for them to do it with minimal investment. It will be companies who are experts in the distribution of these items.”
Companies who wish to participate will have to apply to become a member of the Parts Town Marketplace. “It has to be someone who can provide the inventory, pricing and fulfill the orders in a timely manner,” Delgado adds.
Parts Town will not only approve the suppliers but also the products they can sell in the marketplace. “We are looking for items that will support our existing customer base,” Delgado says. “Parts Town is not selling the product or setting the price. We are facilitating that sale for our partners and providing value to our customers.”
Delgado was very clear regarding Parts Town’s plans: The company does not intend to take ownership of or inventory foodservice equipment and supplies items now or in the future. “That is not on our roadmap at all. If that was on our roadmap, we would not have invested in our marketplace technology,” Delgado says. “Our expertise is in OEM parts, our e-commerce platform and digital marketing. There’s plenty of partners out there that are experts in [the equipment and supplies] product fields and in distribution.”
She also points out that Parts Town is not trying to be all things to all people and acknowledged there are some larger, more established players in the foodservice equipment and supplies e-commerce arena. “Those e-commerce sites are very good and provide a lot of value,” Delgado says. “But our customers are looking for more from Parts Town. And we are trying to make it easier for our customers to find what they need. We are doing this to meet customer requests and demand.”
Parts Town is no stranger to the marketplace approach to e-commerce. Its Parts in Town initiative has been in place on the service side of the industry for quite some time. “Parts Town tries to get the part to the customer in the fastest way possible and Parts In Town was our first avenue into marketplace functionality,” Delgado says. “There is a need at times for a same-day fix. If equipment is down, restaurants lose revenue, and it can impact customer service. So instead of trying to create local inventory across the country, we decided to partner with local servicers who have inventory.”
In fact, 88 companies are participating in the Parts In Town initiative, Delgado says. Similar to the Parts Town Marketplace, the participating companies set the price and terms of the items they provide in the Parts in Town marketplace. Customers visiting the Parts Town website see both the company’s traditional next-day inventory of OEM parts as well as those items available for immediate, in-market delivery.
“The partner has one hour to confirm they have the part and it’s available for pickup,” Delgado adds. “The customer gets the part for a same-day fix and the service partners we work with get more revenue and visibility within their marketplace. One of the value-adds is trying to convert that customer to use other services available. It’s been successful and we are looking to expand by focusing on our top 20 markets. We are looking to get more parts within 25 miles of the customers” Along those lines, Parts Town will eventually roll out a partnership with Uber Direct to address last-mile delivery, Delgado says.