This article originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of THE SHOP Magazine.
They slip and slide with every bump and turn—boxes, bags, tools and more, all carelessly thrown into the back of a truck bed or backseat. But what if we could bring order to that chaos?
Aftermarket cargo management systems offer a place for everything and put everything in its place. From sturdy toolboxes to hideaway storage solutions, you can help customers efficiently pack and transport just about anything to take just about anywhere.
Every driver is a potential client, and with easy installs and durable construction the items practically sell themselves, even as last-minute add-on purchases. Showroom displays and shop vehicle examples are particularly effective, as drivers get the chance to see and feel the useful benefits they’re missing.
Suppliers are happy to offer advice and instructions on how to sell these attractive devices. Now’s a great time for your customers to get organized and enjoy all these systems have to offer.
LOCK IT DOWN
If you’ve been slow to offer cargo carrying solutions, now is the time to start.
“Over the past decade, the toolbox/cargo management product market has witnessed a substantial transformation. Notably, there has been a profound realization of the importance of efficient storage solutions for vehicle owners,” says Tim Litt, sales and marketing manager for DU-HA Inc. “This realization has prompted both vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket producers to prioritize offering a diverse array of storage options.”
Utility and capacity may be the first things customers consider when choosing a cargo management system. But don’t forget to highlight products that help keep their belongings safe as well.
“Security has become a huge component,” says Grant Evans, VP of sales and marketing for Ecoological. “Since cargo boxes have become so ubiquitous, they are natural targets. Whatever cargo option you have, it needs to be secure.”
Products with an appearance that fits the natural character of the vehicle are also popular, says Joey Scelza, regional sales manager – accessories division – Mid Central/Great Lakes Region for RealTruck.
“Cargo management products in the truck market that look and feel like original equipment have been hard to come by over the years. Companies are starting to use this opportunity to create products that cater to not only the ‘everyday, blue-collar man,’ but also the ‘truck mom’ and every person in between,” he says. “Innovation can prove difficult with limited space in the cab of a truck. However, we found a great way to accommodate more capacity in that area.”
Proper systems ensure drivers have what they need, when they need it.
“As the industry expands with new vehicles, machines, etc., there are different tools required to work on them,” says Trent Burbidge, sales director for Boxo USA. “Not to mention higher expectations for the form, fit and function of the toolbox. With all of that considered, we improve toolbox designs, increase our tool catalog and provide our complete solutions based on doing our best to provide a product that not just meets, but exceeds market expectations.”
A WIDE CUSTOMER BASE
If you’re not suggesting toolboxes or related carrying solutions to every pickup owner who contacts your shop, you may be missing out.
“If you have a truck, most of the time you are just hauling air. A cargo management option is a must for every customer who owns a truck,” says Evans. “From what I have seen, it’s rare that shops sell cargo management products as essentials to everyone who owns a truck. Shops should sell cargo boxes the way a Verizon store would sell a phone case—it’s an essential. If you have a truck, you need a cargo management option.”
Drivers are usually interested once they know what’s available, Litt observes.
“A common oversight among retailers selling cargo management products is the potential failure to adequately demonstrate the products’ benefits and the value they bring in terms of organized storage,” he says. “Many retail establishments might not invest sufficient effort in showcasing these products, thereby missing out on a chance to truly engage their customers.”
Today’s easy-fitting options make the products even more attractive, says Scelza.
“One mistake I have seen is not taking advantage of stocking a few grab-and-go items that don’t require much installation or that can be installed while having the vehicle in the bay of the shop,” he says. “Having products to sell in the showroom while the customer waits will generate more sales and more awareness of a brand or product category that may not have been as widely known as others.”
Matching the offering to the project’s specific requirements lends an air of quality and compatibility, says Burbidge.
“It’s important to keep your customer’s application in mind,” he advises. “Understanding the direct need allows a direct solution to be created. There are too many times when the ‘kitchen sink’ gets thrown into a product or cargo management system and that results in something being over-accessorized or even overpriced.”
CLOSING THE LID
Demonstrating their versatility with a few displays will help highlight the utility and attractiveness of today’s cargo management systems.
“For something as simple as our Gearbox with not many vehicle-specific SKUs, we always encourage our brick-and-mortar partners to keep a few on hand to show customers,” says Scelza from RealTruck. “Take them out to their own vehicle and show them what they are missing by not having something to increase organization and space within the cab of a truck. Also, get products to show in your own vehicle or shop truck. Customers don’t know what they don’t know, and they will always look to experienced sales personnel for guidance in their purchases.”
Showroom displays and working examples drive home the benefits, agrees DU-HA’s Litt.
“There’s a great opportunity for retailers to capitalize on manufacturer display programs, providing customers with hands-on experiences that allow them to see, touch and appreciate the product’s features,” he says. “Leveraging programs like our ‘Free DU-HA Underseat Display’ and the ‘Buy one Humpstor and get a free Humpstor’ display not only add an appealing incentive for customers, but also serve as dynamic visual tools. These displays enable customers to interact with the products directly, fostering a deeper understanding of their utility and encouraging them to make more informed purchasing decisions.”
Sometimes it helps to explain products to customers by comparing them to something they already understand.
“The AeroBox, in particular, can cater to people who want something like a trunk for their truck, which is maybe an idea that a customer was not aware was available,” says Ecoological’s Evans. “Regardless of your customer’s needs, there is a unique cargo storage option available from innovative companies in the market.”
Taking the time to build a useful system will benefit the shop and the customer, says Burbidge from Boxo USA.
“Create a product or system that you are proud of and can stand behind. Once you have a solid product, all that is needed is education and brand awareness. The sales will follow from there.”