Launched just a few months ago, Equiprent.com aims to streamline online buying and selling of parts and equipment. Lindsey Anderson spoke with co-founders Luke Powers and Ben Preston about the business and their plans for 2019.
In its simplest form, Equiprent.com is an online marketplace for parts and equipment. The portal currently offers more than 50,000 products (17,000 pieces of equipment and more than 35,000 parts and accessories) from 51 sellers. The site was founded by Luke Powers, a rental veteran who spent six years working in aerial lift re-rentals at USM Rentals. Powers traveled the country to independent and national rental companies during his time at USM Rentals and noticed a pattern of unused parts collecting dust on shelves and older equipment collecting rust on yards while owners held out for the right local buyer. He also noticed that equipment owners regularly had issues acquiring the parts and equipment they needed.
“It seemed like an information problem since the companies could not see the inventories on each other’s shelves and yards,” Powers says. “When buying a car, we have an abundance of information online to do a comparative analysis between brands, models and car dealerships. However, six-figure equipment listings usually have little more than two lines of information on the machine, no information on the seller and limited pictures. Buying a piece of heavy equipment is a big decision, and buyers need just as much information and support as they are used to when buying a car or home.”
So that’s when Equiprent.com was born. Powers brought on co-founder Ben Preston in October 2018. Preston previously spent five years at an advertising machine learning company called dataxu. Preston primarily works with the Equiprent.com sellers to get set up and market their storefront.
“Our tagline is ‘Your Equipment Assistant’ because that’s how we serve both buyers and sellers – as their dedicated assistants,” Powers says. “Equiprent.com enables sellers to showcase their products and, just as importantly, their brand, to a nationwide network of consumers. Meanwhile, it gives buyers a one-stop-shop to easily discover, compare and purchase the products they need. Buyers are encouraged to call, message or email the team at Equiprent.com to help them select, inspect, negotiate and warranty their purchases.”
Lindsey Anderson sat down with Preston and Powers to learn more about their new business.
How does equiprent.com work/what’s the process for both buyers and sellers?
Sellers can list unlimited products for free on their own branded digital storefront. The digital storefront is an opportunity to promote their business. Upload a logo, a picture of your lot or store and a description about the history of your business. You also have the ability to accept offers on your equipment, customize your shipping policies and even add SEO information so your storefront can be found easier on Google.
Once your storefront is set up, you can begin uploading products. Your products will be accompanied by pictures, descriptions, and all the necessary information for a buyer to make an informed decision about your product. Your product pages are also completely customizable. You can create special discounts or promotional periods, add optionality such as warranties or attachments, and set quantity discounts. Our focus on the development side is to make this process as easy and seamless as possible.
As your products go live, the fun begins. You are able to receive messages and offers from prospective buyers, monitor your site traffic and track sales all through your seller dashboard tools. Once a product is added to an order, buyers have the option to pay through PayPal, wire transfer, Amazon Pay or credit card. Equiprent.com only makes money when products sell. We make 4.25 percent commission capped at $1,200 for heavy equipment and 9.75 percent commission capped at $1,200 for light equipment, parts, tools and accessories.
Our goal is to provide buyers a seamless experience from research to transaction through online tools and over-the-phone assistance. Starting with research, they can search for or be algorithmically recommended products, download equipment manuals, make offers and message sellers with questions they have about their products. The buyer dashboards allow buyers to pick up where they left off by accessing all of their messages, offers, favorites, pdf downloads and more. Once they are ready to buy, they can apply for financing and/or check out directly through the site. All heavy equipment comes with a 3-day buyback guarantee so they can be sure the machine’s condition is acceptable.
What can be gained through your site that similar services don’t provide?
There are three ecommerce options for sellers today: online auctions, listing sites and DIY.
Online auctions, such as IronPlanet (owned by Richie Brothers), PurpleWave and Bidadoo, have their place. For sellers looking to sell equipment fast to get it off their lots, auction still may be the way to go. However, according to EquipmentWatch data, 50 percent of Equipment in the U.S. is sold for half its value (FMV vs FLV). With Equiprent.com, people have the opportunity to capture that 60 to 90 percent of retail margin that they are missing out with at auction on top avoiding the freight and 15 percent fee auction houses charge. We put the control into sellers’ hands. They can set their prices, choose to accept or reject offers, and still reach the same audience. Furthermore, unlike auction sites, our sellers have the opportunity to promote their business, not just their products. This adds an extra decision layer for buyers who find it important to work with quality sellers who have good reputations. Sellers should be able to leverage their brand equity to influence buying decisions. With sites like Ebay, you are simply an anonymous ID.
Listing sites, such as MachineryTrader, Rock & Dirt, Mascus and others put the risk on the sellers. We believe that sellers should not have to pay a monthly fee to list equipment while not knowing how long it will take to receive leads never mind sales. Furthermore, the directory style nature of these sites still make it very difficult for buyers to easily conduct research, compare prices and discover products they might need. Lastly, they can only go as far as contacting the seller for a quote or offer. This kind of workflow does not enable quick decision making, lead quality assurance or forecastable ROI and cost efficiencies. With Equiprent.com, we want to remove the risk from the sellers. By making it free to list unlimited products, there is no risk to listing even the slowest moving equipment or new equipment that people will only accept retail prices for. Furthermore, all messaging, offers, and transactions are hosted on the site, therefore removing bottlenecks in the customer journey.
Building your own website can be necessary in some cases. However, building one with full ecommerce and marketing capabilities is extremely time consuming, expensive and difficult to manage. Using third party services such as SandHills Publishing still inherits the pains of listing sites – you can only go as far as lead generation, you don’t own any of your data and you are stuck paying fees. Lastly, even if people do decide to build their own ecommerce site, they now need to market it. However, having the budget, time, expertise and inventory to attract enough consumers to outweigh costs is rare. Equiprent.com is a turnkey solution for ecommerce and marketing. We believe in the digital “shopping mall effect.” By partnering with sellers from all over the country from all types of parts and equipment categories, everyone reaches a lot more consumers as a whole than they could on their own. Everyone benefits from the traffic that all other sellers attract and vice a versa. Equiprent.com brings “network effects” to the industry. This means that with every additional seller or buyer that joins the site, Equiprent.com gets incrementally more valuable for everyone already using it.
What advantages does a company/person gain when joining equiprent.com?
The advantages sellers have by joining Equiprent.com is they can immediately reach a nationwide network of buyers, engage with those buyers and negotiate the sale all online. The transaction can then be hosted on the site or sent directly. This removes steps for the buyer along their customer journey that may cause them to abandon their purchase path. Furthermore, Equiprent.com enables accessory manufacturers and part suppliers to market their products alongside the machines that they complement. This access, engagement, and insight is 100 percent free. Sellers only pay Equiprent.com when their products sell, eliminating any risks they take on with upfront fees or forced liquidation values. Sellers immediately have a national sales channel as well as a destination to point their marketing efforts to. Equiprent.com has partnered with a digital marketing company to provide managed service advertising packages to our sellers to granularly target shoppers of their products and influence them to buy directly online.
For buyers, Equiprent.com is the only destination where they can research products and sellers, discover new products, retrieve manuals, negotiate deals and check out all in one place. This saves an immense amount of time and money while instilling a sense of reassurance that they bought the right product at the right price from the right seller. Our team at Equiprent.com also helps equipment buyers add warranty coverage, oversee third party inspections and coordinate the shipping.
What’s the future of equiprent.com?
In 2019, we are rolling out an API integration with EquipmentWatch to improve our search bar, to autofill machine and truck spec information and to host the taxonomy of the platform. EquipmentWatch is the leading data provider to the construction industry and is owned by business intelligence and media giant Informa.
We are also building out a mobile app to make uploading parts and equipment as quick and easy as possible for our sellers, and an app with our full site experienc