Current Issue

Distributors guide to the online consumer

Comments Email
Distributors guide to the online consumer

This is what big online retail doesn’t want you to know.  There are millions of tire shopping consumers in your distribution territory that aren’t buying from you - they are buying from them! Treadhunter’s new local-search integrated marketplace solution will equip your business for this internet disruption, tap into an ignored market and bring the internet consumer back into your sales channel!

The online consumer conversation has changed drastically. Within the past five years, a new trend has emerged as online consumers seek to shop near their location. Driven by convenience, “near me” searches are saturating the market.  As a result, an increasing number of today’s tire shoppers want to buy tires online and from local businesses. Despite this increase in demand, we found that nearly 90% of local, independent tire shops have inadequate e-commerce, unlike their online retail counterparts, like Tire Rack.

As can be seen in the graph from Google Trends, the popularity of the search phrase “tire shops near me” has risen in the last five years. The significance of this data is that consumers are searching locally and this market is growing.

This dichotomy leaves consumers with a single solution: To seek an experience only provided by online retailers, thereby taking that business out of the local sales channel. But why not offer online consumers what they really want in the first place – a local e-commerce experience.

We at Treadhunter see a symbiotic relationship between distributors and tire stores, and we believe that both businesses must leverage each other in order to be successful in the market. This relationship is stunted by the misconception that distributors can’t pursue online consumers without competing with their tire shop customers. The notion that tire stores do not want distributors selling around them isn’t applicable because tire stores are not equipped to or simply do not want to sell to online consumers.

To support this, Treadhunter evaluated the e-commerce capabilities of more than 20,000 independently owned tire shops across the country. We have conclusive data that more than 30% do not have a website while another 40% have websites with no inventory or pricing, or what we call an internet business card.

“If your website is giving consumers the same information search engines or directories provide, such as your name, address and phone number but no inventory and pricing, you are missing the e-commerce opportunity” said Eric Berger, Director of Sales and Business Development at Treadhunter.

The remaining tire shop’s websites offer inventory yet require consumers to “call for price” while an even smaller percentage actually offers product AND pricing- the bare minimum for a preferred online consumer experience.

The challenge isn’t simply technological, as Treadhunter learned during thousands of hours in the field meeting with hundreds of tire shops around the country.  More than 70% of shop owners either do not want to work with online consumers or do not want to invest in technology.

According to Tony Barraza, owner of Tire and Wheel Pro in Houston, “Adjusting my business to receive orders from online consumers is too much hassle.  I want the customers who want to call the store or walk into the shop.  I don’t see the need to invest in an e-commerce solution.”

However, local tire shop’s lack of sentiment to the online consumer’s desired experience is not just documented through field conversations. It is manifested in the collective, national e-commerce capabilities of independent tire shops.  It is here, where distributors can step in and take the reins.

If retail history has taught us anything, it is that ignoring the consumer’s shopping experience has dire consequences.  The most famous and costly of these disruptions were Blockbuster and Netflix.

Throughout the mid-late 2000s, Blockbuster held steadfast to their brick-and-mortar movie renting business model, despite a clear consumer preference for a better experience. While both businesses cohabitated, Netflix began to erode Blockbuster’s consumer market. Over time more and more consumers purchased Netflix, effectively reducing their sales revenue year over year until Blockbuster went out of business. You must prepare for disruption, you cannot chase disruption.

Clearly the tire industry remains unique because tires will always have to be installed.  The main correlation between the current tire industry and the Blockbuster/Netflix saga lies with the consumer.  Blockbuster ignored what the consumer wanted, and we see that echoed across a vast segment of the tire industry.

Unable to find the desired shopping experience, online consumers are moving away from distributor and tire shop sales channels because neither is competing for their business.  The result is an accelerating decline in business for both. A collaborative, e-commerce relationship between tire shop and distributor must be initiated.

In support of this necessary collaboration, Treadhunter has designed a new, local-search integrated marketplace solution that brings the internet sales channel back to the distributor and tire shop. Delivered by a state-of-the-art ecommerce experience, your tire inventory will be shopped by potentially millions of consumers throughout your territory.

Do you want to discover the untapped potential of your distribution network? The first step to take ownership of your internet sales channel is an E-commerce Risk Assessment from Treadhunter. Our teams then go to work creating an e-commerce strategy connecting your business to millions of consumers and deploying modules to have consumers buying across your distribution network!

“With hundreds of millions of tire consumer website visits every year and an increasing preference to shop locally, independent tire shops and distributors have never been in a better position to succeed - both now and in the future as disruption continues to reshape our industry.” said Greg Spence, CEO of Treadhunter Inc.

For Additional Information

Email Eric Berger at or visit

More Polls>

TB Reader Poll