Blending a Modern Marketplace With Traditional Retail Values
Founded in 2015, Jack’d Off-Road works with warehouse distributors on both coasts to ensure that a wide range of products is offered, with numerous shipping options available.
Aaron Gable and James Herring began their careers in the automotive industry like so many pioneers: with genuine passion. Bitten by the off-roading bug early, their enthusiasm for the hobby dates back to their childhoods. Growing up just a few miles apart in rural Georgia, the duo spent years with wrenches in their hands, learning every nook and cranny of what’s under the hood. Ultimately, their fun weekend activities created the foundation for Gable and Herring to become co-owners and operators of Jack’d Off-Road.
After each of them established a career of his own in different fields, Gable and Herring felt a strong call back to their youth and decided to open Jack’d, an online-only retail store focusing on the expansive Jeep and truck market. Jack’d has a business model that represents what many consider to be the evolution of the modern marketplace. Their shop exists solely online, which helps reduce overhead costs while still providing a direct, responsive customer support network.
SEMA News spoke with Gable and gleaned some insights about how the business model functions, revealing the trials and successes of a new-found online
SEMA News: What about Jack’d Off-Road’s story makes it unique?
The Jeep market is the most lucrative for Jack’d, offering a full catalog of off-road and performance parts.
Aaron Gable: I think it starts with our original intention behind starting Jack’d. We are just two guys who are lifelong automotive enthusiasts—especially when it comes to off-roading. We grew up outdoors around farms, so we were constantly working on trucks, tractors—really anything that could get us around. This is exactly what prompted us to start the website after years of diving into our own careers outside of the auto industry. We have a true and honest excitement for off-roading, and we want that expressed to our customer base and through the products that we sell through our website.
We didn’t set out with the intention of opening a multi-location business right away. We knew from the beginning that our operation would be online, and we accepted the challenges and advantages that this presents. Today, the plan remains to exist online and keep gaining market share as best we can.
SN: What is the basic structure of your business, and what can a customer expect when shopping with Jack’d?
AG: Our structure is fairly simple in that we focus primarily on off-road-specific parts, with some performance parts in the mix as well. As of now, we carry products from more than 250 different manufacturers, ranging from the major brands that everyone knows all the way down to mom-and-pop brands. As a general rule, we feel like having that option for our customers—even if they have never heard of a certain brand of product—will ultimately provide them with the best end result.
The Jack’d team is constantly updating product data on its website to ensure reliable information on product availability.
SN: How do you maintain a relationship with customers without the aid of a physical brick-and-mortar location?
AG: There are no doubt advantages to having a physical retail location, especially when it comes to building up relationships with customers and earning their trust. So there is not much choice other than to go above and beyond to make up for any deficit there may be with respect to our online-only storefront. I’m proud to say that we interact directly with customers on just about every order that goes through our website. If a customer buys a product that may need an additional component, we give them a call and let them know before their order ever ships, which reduces the potential for headaches on the consumer end.
I think just about every page on our website has a “contact us” section specified, and we want our customers to take advantage of our experience. I have spent many, many hours on the phone talking with people about a particular product or even providing caution if I know it won’t be a good fit. At the end of the day, even if it is time-consuming and not always beneficial to our bottom line, we still want to ensure that our customers feel like they have an ally in us.
SN: What are some of the biggest challenges associated with maintaining and growing an online business, as it pertains to Jack’d?
AG: With our current online-only platform, the process of inventory management is a continual challenge. With so many different manufacturers and products carried, ensuring that a product is in stock is always hard work. We work with warehouse distributors on both coasts, so sometimes it is also a struggle to guarantee exact delivery dates. What one warehouse distributor has in stock and ready to ship is almost always not the case with another. That has taught us, however, that there really is no shame in becoming more specialized. These past few years have shown us what categories and specific products sell best for us, so we will be attempting to narrow down our list of products carried into a more manageable system this next year—benefitting both our operation and customers.
SN: SEMA News readers want to know about best business practices. What are a few best practices that stand out with your business?
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AG: As a website, we make it an absolute priority to be as transparent as possible with our customers. To us, it is vital that their questions are not only answered but also answered in a way that is concise and actually helpful. In short, we want to be masters in what we do. Earning the trust of a customer is a number-one concern for us.
SN: What does the future look like for Jack’d?
AG: As I previously mentioned, one of our biggest priorities is to become more focused and refined with the products that we offer. As of now, there are just too many product SKUs to manage. We are learning what our customers come to us for, and those are the products that we feel are most important. In addition to focusing our line of products, James and I want to start spending more time with the people in person—at events, races, etc. We are going to start making a real attempt to get out on the road and promoting the brand. We love what we do, and we want to share that excitement with as many of our customers as possible.