Online aggregators are on the rise in the equipment rental industry, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. New aggregator platforms have entered the global market over the last several years, often with big name ownership and big investments.
For rental companies, joining a rental aggregator can provide new business benefits and opportunities for growth. These online platforms offer greater visibility to a wider audience, increased revenue, robust order fulfillment, and simplified rental ordering.
As a rental operator, you have the option of joining any number of online rental aggregators. But quantity doesn’t equal quality. It won’t harm you to place your eggs in multiple baskets, but you don’t want to choose baskets with holes in them.
Before you sign on with any rental aggregator website, make sure you’re choosing a good fit for your business. Here are several considerations to keep in mind when considering an online platform.
Who Do They Serve?
Pick an aggregator that focuses on your market segment — audio/visual equipment, event rentals, electronics, consumer goods, etc. If you rent cameras, you don’t want to join an aggregator that specializes in construction equipment. While you may not have any competition on that platform, you won’t find your customers there either.
What Are the Aggregator’s Terms?
Every rental aggregator has its own terms and conditions, and they’ll be structured differently from one to another. Different terms will make sense for different rental companies, so you should be thinking about what kinds of terms will be the right fit for yours.
For example, if the fee is based on a percentage of sales and you’re renting bulldozers at $10,000 a day, a 3% fee per sale is a significant cut. But if you’re renting baby carriages, the same percentage is a fair amount. Do the math to see what your ideal pricing model is for your business.
Questions to ask rental aggregators about their terms:
- Do they require a large upfront payment?
- What is the charge for ongoing participation?
- What is the pricing model: a monthly or annual subscription, or a percentage of sales?
- What other marketing, sales, operations or reputation benefits do they offer?
- How easy is it to terminate the agreement if you aren’t seeing the results you expect?
In general, it’s not a bad idea to shy away from fixed long term contracts. If you aren’t seeing the results you expect, you want to get out of the arrangement easily.
Also ask about payment flow. Does the customer pay you directly, and the aggregator invoices you for the commissions? Or does the payment go from the customer to the aggregator and from the aggregator to you? And if so, how does the payment gateway work?
What Technologies Does the Aggregator Use?
A common problem in the rental industry is that various systems don’t talk to each other. Your customers can see your product list, but they don’t know whether or not your products are available when they need them. So they have to request a quote and wait for your reply.
The same is true with most online aggregators. They don’t connect to your inventory information, so customers have to go through the same request-for-quote process. These aggregators are little more than a collection of electronic brochures.
Look for rental aggregators that can display your current inventory — either via a direct connection to your system, or by manual CSV upload on a regular basis. Ask what you will need to do to get your product information on their site.
How Will Customer Experience Be Affected?
Your customer support is one of your hallmark differentiators, and you don’t want to sacrifice the customer experience when you join an aggregator. Find out what kind of support, if any, they will provide — and how they’ll provide it.
If they provide level one customer care, the aggregator will be on the front lines of support. Customer support tickets go to the aggregator first, not you. If the issue is related to delivery or order fulfillment, they’ll handle everything for you. If the issue is product related, the ticket gets passed on to you for resolution.
While most tickets will probably be transferred to you, level-one support means you’ll never have to deal with shipping or billing complaints. The aggregator should also be able to offer a degree of immediate responsiveness that might be challenging for you to provide.
What Kind of Marketing Data Will You See?
One of the advantages of an online aggregator is the additional marketing opportunities they provide. Not only are you included in search results, but you can often opt into paid advertising campaigns and other promotions.
When considering an online rental aggregator, ask about how they can help promote your business. In many ways, an aggregator is essentially an extension of your marketing department, and they should be making marketing investments that you wouldn’t make on your own.
Ask about options for promotions and paid advertising. Also find out if you’ll have access to marketplace data. Can you see where you’re losing to the competition, or where your best opportunities lie? Will you be able to view data about trending products or search terms?
Poise Your Business for the Future
As online rental aggregators become more popular among rental companies and their customers, it will be necessary to give them strong consideration for your own business. Not every aggregator will be a good option for you, but joining the right platform can help you stay competitive in a changing market.
Whatever you do, don’t dismiss rental aggregators out of hand. This trend is projected to grow, and it looks like it’s here to stay. The good news is that you don’t need to be technically proficient to join an online aggregator — you just need to make smart business decisions.
Need help evaluating your rental aggregator options? Rēlentless software advisory services can walk you through it.