When it comes to the automotive aftermarket, no one puts the rubber to the road like Steeda Autosports(opens in new tab). Founded in 1988, the company manufactures and sells performance parts specifically for Ford vehicles, enhancing factory-made cars for both professional racers and everyday enthusiasts.
Steeda is the single largest manufacturer of Ford performance parts in the world, engineering products for models from the latest F-150 to an ‘80s Mustang and selling both wholesale and directly to consumers, with its sales & service center in Pompano Beach, Florida, where the business began. Steeda’s long history is marked with several milestones – like when it decided against overseas manufacturing in favor of opening a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing, service and distribution center in Valdosta, Georgia in 2008.
Fast-forward to 2020, when the pandemic boosted demand for performance parts as homebound Ford enthusiasts tinkered with their cars. Steeda was already focused on growing its direct-to-consumer ecommerce channel and considering an ERP system. The spike in D2C demand made it clear that it was time to act.
Watch an overview of Steeda's story from the team, then read into the details below:
Cruising Into the Cloud
When shopping for an ERP, Steeda sought a cloud solution to replace its on-premises system, a commerce solution called Ecometry that’s now known as Direct Commerce. Amid the company’s growth, coordinating information between departments in Georgia and Florida had become difficult to manage. And whenever the server went down, Steeda’s busy VP of Operations would have to drop everything to troubleshoot.
Choosing NetSuite ERP(opens in new tab) was a “no-brainer,” said Director of Engineering and Manufacturing Scott Boda and Director of Marketing Chris Cervenka. The brand’s strong reputation made it their “go-to” solution, and recommendations from others in the automotive aftermarket helped seal the deal.
Shifting Gears Toward Consumers
The new system supercharged Steeda’s shift from a “manufacturer-only mindset” to a “hybrid” business model equally focused on D2C ecommerce, said Cervenka. Trading its 20-year-old inventory management system for NetSuite Inventory Management(opens in new tab) allowed Steeda to accommodate more products from a wider variety of vendors on its site.
Prior to NetSuite, Steeda couldn’t reflect inventory availability on its website in real time, leading to a “nightmare” of upset customers who had placed orders for items that weren’t actually in stock. Upon implementing NetSuite, Steeda was able to feed inventory data from its warehouse to the site in real time. It built an API with one of its distributors to get off-site inventory information displayed on the site, too. Steeda also gets vendor feeds emailed daily with inventory levels, backorder information and shipping ETAs. Its in-house web developer used NetSuite’s SuiteScript(opens in new tab) platform to devise a process by which that data reflects on the site.
These inventory feeds are an example of how the small Steeda team uses NetSuite to maximize its capabilities while minimizing effort, Cervenka said.
“We're not a big company, so the ability to set that up in-house using a powerful tool like NetSuite has been awesome and saved us a lot of money,” he added. “If we had wanted to incorporate that with our old system, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
Calls and emails from aggravated customers have subsided, giving customer service staff more time to help the fewer customers who do call in seeking technical support on parts, service and more.
Consider “if someone's calling for technical support like, ‘Hey, I don't know how to set my car up for a race this weekend,’” Cervenka said. “If our salesman can spend those couple extra minutes helping that customer out, then we're going to get that sale or another one from them down the road.”
Busywork Takes a Back Seat
Customer service isn’t the only department benefiting from automation. Cervenka uses NetSuite to create his monthly reports for management, no longer sorting through scans and print-outs by hand. In doing so, he saves days’ worth of time each year. He uses this time to seek out new and exciting product lines to add to Steeda’s catalog and further improve the site, among other projects.
He also uses the system’s inventory management capabilities to more easily run sales events. In Steeda’s past, holding a Father’s Day sale required manually pulling the inventory status of each of more than 7,000 parts offered on Steeda’s site, one by one. Now, Cervenka uses the Current Inventory Snapshot(opens in new tab) to see which items are in stock at-a-glance, along with a saved search he built for kits and packages(opens in new tab). Setting up a sale event now takes 30 minutes versus an entire afternoon, adding up to days of work saved over the course of a year.
High-Performance Parts, High-Performance System
In NetSuite, Steeda can easily tweak its processes for efficiency without needing to call in developers or consultants. For example, when its purchaser suggested adding a field to its PO template, the team easily made the adjustment using NetSuite’s Advanced PDF Template(opens in new tab).
And when Steeda wanted to start gathering more feedback from customers, it simply added a QR code to packing slips so shoppers could scan and leave a review. Without such easy customization capabilities in NetSuite, the team might’ve gone with its initial plan of printing out postcards to encourage customer reviews, Cervenka said. With the QR code system, it avoided spending thousands of dollars per year on printing postcards and having its assembly team complete an extra step.
Hitting the Accelerator
In terms of future projects, website improvements take priority – 90% of Steeda’s revenue now comes from the site, so the team will focus on improving site speed and search engine optimization while honing its live inventory feeds with NetSuite and further automating web order processing. It will also work directly with Bank of America and NetSuite to automate credit card and checking account feeds.
The team is also eagerly anticipating the upcoming release of the next Mustang body style. It aims to be the first to market in engineering, manufacturing and distributing performance parts for that car, much like it was for the S550 Mustang in 2015. Along with a new chassis, that car featured independent rear suspension, opening the door for Steeda to develop a whole new slate of parts – which it did, while beating competitors to market with more innovative, battle-tested products and boosting sales. Now armed with a highly efficient ERP, Cervenka is ready to take on competitors when the next model arrives.
“It’s going to be a huge opportunity for us to do what we did with the S550 Mustang – but do it bigger and better with NetSuite,” he said.
See how your business can maximize inventory sell through and avoid stockouts in a demo of NetSuite Inventory Management(opens in new tab).