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Posted: October 25, 2013

Capture Customers With Lots Of Product Categories

James Elwell, President of Putco, explains how they've added new categories and POP displays to capture more customers


We’ve been consistently growing, and the momentum is very good.  That growth has required a lot of new products — a rethinking of how the vehicle appearance market is changing and moving. We have 15 product categories. Each category is huge, very application specific. That diversity is part of our success. We’re not a one-horse company.  For example, we have a lighting category. A lot of it is for trucks, but it’s also geared toward any vehicle. That’s what’s interesting about lighting. It has allowed us to be non-truck oriented with some of our lighting products. Our dome lights line has more than 300 applications. These are custom, model-specific, premium replacement lights. In the early stages, trucks drove this category, but now we’ve got a dome-light kit for just about anything current on the road. It’s a unique accessory and a wonderful upsell. It’s not something you’ll find in a chain store.
There are lots of opportunities to personalize a vehicle. We have a chrome trim category with 1,200 applications. We have 30 parts just for the FJ Cruiser. We still sell an unbelievable amount of Hummer parts. Now we’re into Hyundai and Kia applications. We also have a few hundred applications for cars. Very few things in our categories carry over, so right now our engineering and design is focused on the new Chevy/GMC pickups.
We believe our categories are what consumers are looking for when they buy a truck. There are some staple items, hood shields, vent visors, chrome trim, or side rails. But LED is the buzz right now. Consumers are looking for high-power LED lights, and the restyler is looking for more sources. The biggest challenge is product knowledge. We’ve got to drive the consumer into the store with product knowledge. We try to do that with social media, and we do trade advertising.
When consumers walk into a showroom, they’re expecting to see merchandise. If it’s a lighting product, they want to push a button and see what it looks like. So we have a full line of interactive P.O.P.s to help customers make a decision. We have P.O.P.s for our side rails. All of our packaging is four color, so you can show it in the showroom. Our printed catalog has full-size vehicle spreads with all the accessories called out, so it’s a great sales tool. Our sales and marketing has always been trade oriented for the benefit of the retailer and reseller. But retailers have to be sales oriented and keep their showroom looking fresh. In the end, for every dollar they spend on merchandising their showroom, there’s a big return.

Edited by Ellen McKoy.

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