sales in 10 weeks
General Manager, Honeywell GoDirect Trade
Buying and selling aircraft parts today is like being stuck in an Internet time warp. Websites that offer landing gear and engines mostly look like Craigslist, only without images and even prices. Sales are made the old-fashioned way — bargaining on the telephone or via emails and faxes. “The used aerospace parts industry is worth $4 billion a year, but the angry thing is that less than 2 per cent of transactions are done online,” said Lisa Butters, general manager of GoDirect Trade, powered by Honeywell Aerospace. “In fact, it takes an average of two phone calls and four emails to close a deal.”
Honeywell, a Phoenix, Arizona-based company with twenty years’ aerospace experience, decided it was time to revolutionise the industry. They launched GoDirect Trade, a “garage-style start-up,” to move aerospace sales online with a consumer-gradient B2B marketplace to connect parts with buyers. They envisioned a cross between Amazon and Etsy, but for autothrottle engines and altimeters. “We selected Magento because it allowed us to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) in record time, while enabling major web design customisation,” said Butters. “In addition, the community of available extensions is unprecedented. The platform is a start-up’s dream.”
Aimed at the main players in the aerospace industry, Honeywell’s site helps B2B buyers who are individual operators or airlines looking for parts, traders who buy and sell for a profit and repair centres. To succeed, Honeywell would have to change the way a whole industry does business, by providing for the first time such basic information as price, images and documentation for all parts. This would involve persuading everyone from mum-and-pop shops to multimillion-dollar traders to take photos of their parts, scan quality documents and totally digitise their inventory.
“Time was our greatest challenge but also our number one motivator,” said Butters. Together with their solution partner Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), they planned to launch a first MVP in just twelve weeks. “From a technology or customisation perspective, our first big challenge was building our site to support a true marketplace of individual shop fronts for our sellers, like Etsy, for example,” she said. Magento Commerce already had a robust marketplace extension that Honeywell customised quickly to suit their needs. It saved them a fortune compared to building their own.
One of their largest shop fronts, Honeywell Aerospace Trading, runs on SAP’s ERP system. They quickly built APIs that connect Magento Commerce to SAP, so orders and inventory are automatically synchronised. Additional APIs interface to their Blockchain platform, built on Hyperledger Fabric. This allows various events to be captured and written to the ledger via APIs. For example, when a shop front lists a part for sale, it adds information to a part. Or if a repair centre serviced or repaired a part or if the part was sold — all of these “events” are written from Magento Commerce to the Blockchain, creating a single source of truth. Thanks to Blockchain technology, potential buyers can view the entire lifecycle of everything they buy, from the number of hours in service, to repairs made and the names of operators who have used the individual part.
Honeywell leaned on a number of third-party extensions from the Magento Commerce ecosystem to fully customise their user experience. Webkul’s Marketplace includes B2B features that enable users to interact with the shop as both a potential buyer and seller, just like the listing site Mercari.com. This extension enabled the customised shop front infrastructure that is essential to the marketplace. They also selected the Rokan Outstock theme to define the layout and add UI features, while Fastly CDN enables caching to improve overall site performance.
Honeywell allows customers to check out with the older, antiquated ways still preferred by the industry, like purchase orders. Naturally, they offer modern payment types too, like credit cards, but Magento Commerce gives Honeywell the ability to accept all types of payment. (Purchase orders are why the aerospace industry is one of the few not to migrate to Amazon.)
Finally, Honeywell developed a service called Trust Trace to provide part pedigree data on serialised components. It’s similar to how CarFax delivers information about a used car. Now, when a customer is searching for parts on GoDirect Trade, Trust Trace improves user confidence and increases the chance of a purchase. Users can see reviews and ratings of third-party sellers and buyers and sellers can contact one another directly via the platform, streamlining the process to ensure both parties are satisfied with the exchange.
Previously, buyers looking for aviation parts such as avionics and auxiliary power units would need to call numerous companies, wait days or even wait weeks to price a part. They might risk buying from a company that hadn't got the inventory in stock. With every part on GoDirect Trade immediately available for sale and delivery, there’s no need to wait days or even weeks for the seller to confirm availability. And as with similar websites in other industries, online reviews of both buyers and sellers are encouraged.
General Manager, Honeywell GoDirect Trade
Honeywell launched their GoDirect Trade e-commerce site after just twelve weeks of development, on 15 December, 2018. It kickstarted their mission to shift the aerospace industry into a new level of transparency by providing prices, product imagery and quality documents on every listing. By leveraging Blockchain technology, they can now bring as much valuable information to the consumer as possible. Now, for the first time, aerospace customers are dropping parts into their basket and checking out online. “About three months after we went live, a customer with a Gmail account dropped a $100,000 used jet engine into their basket and checked out,” said Butters. “If that’s not a signal that the shift to a digital experience is coming, I don’t know what is.”
“Even if I had $100 million to develop our site, I would have chosen Magento,” said Butters. “For our garage-style start-up, Magento has provided so much functionality and customisation and it’s so economically reasonable. The flexibility to customise the look and feel while at the same time having a robust back-end for easy configuration makes Magento the pick of the litter,” said Butters.
With some of the biggest names in aerospace parts already on-boarded as GoDirect Trade sellers, Honeywell has populated the e-commerce site with over $300 million in inventory. Users can shop by product line and checkout easily online — and Honeywell is currently at work on a mobile solution too. More sellers are choosing to “go digital” and joining the platform to sell to customers who are now starting to demand the GoDirect user experience: Images, a price and documentation. And Honeywell is flying high with $1 million in sales after just ten weeks.