It was 1984 in the rural city of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania,
home of Randy and Lisa Raybuck, as well as Punxsutawney Phil,
the weather-predicting groundhog of Groundhog Day. For the
thousandth time, a customer of Randy’s asked if he sold any of
the rust repair panels he frequently installed on vehicles in
his garage. It was a no, followed by a “maybe soon.”
Now it’s 2017 on
Raybuck.com, a domain held by Steve DeFrancesco, owner of Raybuck Auto
Body Parts. For the thousandth time, a customer scrolls and
clicks around, wondering if they can find a rust repair panel
matching their vehicle make and model. It’s a yes, followed by
“it’ll be shipped to you soon.”
Through sheer volume of inquiries alone, Lisa and Randy knew
there was clear demand for rust repair panels back in 1985 —
enough to begin buying in bulk and selling them, which is
exactly what they did. They first purchased a variety of panels
from multiple suppliers for popular vehicles and models. Then
they sold them over the counter and at local swap meets, handing
out a hand-collated catalog whenever and wherever they could
that detailed each panel.
In time, they had a fully-functional business called Raybuck
Auto Body Parts on their hands. And for years it was business as
usual — new products were introduced, they produced a new
catalog, and sales grew — until the dot-com boom hit.
It would take two-and-a-half decades to turn that scroll of a
catalog into a scroll down menu on a website. Witnessing
ecommerce’s steady rise in the early 2000’s, Lisa and Randy
greenlighted a webstore in ‘06 that quickly kicked their
business into overdrive — the two found themselves selling and
shipping orders nationwide at a more rapid speed.
They adjusted, investing more time and money into their online
storefront until it became the bulk of their business. But
eventually, after years of making an honest buck, they decided
to catch some rays in 2014; it was time to sell Raybuck and
retire. That’s when Steve DeFrancesco pulled up.
Both techie and gear head, Steve made a job out of building
software and a hobby out of restoring classic and antique
vehicles. And once his business partner bought him out of their
bootstrapped software company, it was time to go down a
different road. At the start, that something was
software-as-a-service, but it ended up being an online
broker-as-a-service that introduced him to his next endeavor —
an online automotive site that put software in the rearview
Steve had always been interested in all things auto, and after
randomly finding Raybuck on a business-for-sale marketplace, the
opportunity to run an online business combining his tech,
business, and vehicle experience became a potential reality. He
met with Lisa and Randy, got a look at their operation, and made
an offer. It was a yes. They threw him the keys.
Much has changed since 2006. Ecommerce has gone from zero to
sixty in a narrow window of time, and Steve, from the second he
entered the driver’s seat in 2014, was determined to renovate
the online business.
The website hadn’t changed too much since launch. Although it
was well established and had handled thousands of orders for
nearly a decade before Steve took the wheel, the website was
little different than the bare essentials of a vehicle. It had
its UI, its product listings, its payment processor, but much of
it was clunky and in need of revamp.
Like restoring an antique car, Steve’s first step was
disassembly. Launched on an automotive ecommerce platform that
served as a template and hosting provider for e-retailers
looking to get into the industry, the storefront was proprietary
and due for an overhaul. There weren’t too many nuts and bolts
to the website, either — third-party apps and tools were sparse,
and those that existed weren’t integrated.
He began mapping Raybuck’s new specs, and one word would steer
how the new storefront would operate: scalability. A well-oiled
machine that’s both durable and flexible requires scalability if
it’s to grow with ease, with each part working in tandem. All of
the webstore’s new components needed to meet such requirements,
Picking the Parts
With over ten years worth of customer and invoice data in the
trunk and a total refurbishment of every service in motion, the
transition took some time. After test driving multiple sales
channels, Steve went with WooCommerce due to the control and
flexibility it provided. Other scalable and compatible apps made
it on board as well.
And just as he purposely avoided siloing pieces of the business,
the same had to go for warehouses. Raybuck fulfilled in-house
while dropshipping, a hybrid fulfillment model that made for a
more layered supply chain. Incoming orders oftentimes contained
a mix of products — some fulfilled internally, others by
dropshippers — complicating the fulfillment process and
requiring Raybuck to manually create and route orders separately
To streamline and accelerate the workflow, Steve tapped Ordoro
for its order splitting and routing feature. All it took was
importing products and vendors into the app and assigning them
to their respective vendors. Once mixed orders arrived, the app
automatically sent those assigned products to their suppliers.
Raybuck fulfilled those stored in its own warehouse. And if new
dropshippers came on board, scaling was as simple as repeating
the process — add the new products and link them to their
While it brought some fuel efficiency to the business by cutting
down on the time and effort it took to fulfill orders, Ordoro
also served as a dashboard. Each part of Raybuck’s frame — its
sales channels, suppliers, and tools — integrated with Ordoro,
making it a central hub for all matters shipping and inventory.
The app set inventory management to cruise control,
automatically adjusting quantities with every fulfilled order
and flashing alerts when count was low. When it was time to
ship, choosing carriers was like changing gears — whether FedEx
SameDay or USPS First Class, plenty of delivery options were
available, fast or slow.
From Paper to PDF
Since its founding in 1985, little about Raybuck’s day-to-day
operations had changed before Steve’s takeover, and he needed to
make a bit of a 180. Although the business went online in 2006,
much of the back office grind — finding, fulfilling, and filing
orders — was offline and more manual than automatic.
Lisa and Randy primarily dropshipped online, and they had their
workflow down to a Ford Model T — it was old school, but it set
the blueprint for the future. Once an order was made,
dropshipments were printed and faxed to vendors. When an
acknowledgment was returned, they printed it, stapled it to the
order, and filed it away in a massive folder and file system
dedicated entirely to dropshipping.
Now, everything is online — not just the buying and selling.
That ole hand-collated catalog is now downloadable in PDF form,
accessible to anyone like it was way back. The paper-heavy file
system has been digitized into a file folder. And those printed
and faxed dropshipments are now sent off and saved in email
Putting the Pedal to the Metal
The u-turn seems to have worked. Since optimizing Raybuck’s
online storefront and using Ordoro, the business has brought
order errors to a rolling stop and sped up its workflow, all
while maintaining a consistent 25% growth rate. Not only that,
the business is no longer a single product, channel, or country
At its start, Raybuck dealt exclusively with rust repair panels,
but it’s since expanded its offerings over the years. Its
product catalog is souped up and packed with a variety of
vehicle restoration and repair-related goods, moving beyond
17,000 SKUs. The store’s panels still receive the most traffic,
but plenty of new arrivals are beginning to hit the road as they
leave the warehouse, from fuel tanks and bumpers to sprays,
paints, and seat upholstery kits.
Raybuck’s WooCommerce-hosted webstore remains its primary
channel, but select products are sold on other fronts like eBay
depending on demand. More channels are in the pipeline as the
online automotive market — one of the fastest growing areas of
ecommerce — picks up steam, and plenty of gas is being pumped
into the SEO and PPC tank, fueling search and order volume.
What began as in the rural city of Punxsutawney has also gone
global. Since moving online and revamping the site, Raybuck has
pushed its geographic reach, selling and shipping its products
to consumers internationally.
Whether it’s a mom and pop shop selling panels or a software
startup, neither Randy, Lisa, or Steve — even Phil the groundhog
— could predict the winds of change on the way as they began
their own enterprises.
The Raybucks went from printing and distributing a hard-copy
catalog of their products to posting them online for purchase on
their website. Steve went from working on vehicles and building
software to owning and modernizing a webstore selling automotive
Commerce used to be completely offline. Now online sales make a
significant and expanding chunk of total sales. It used to be
that you had to print, fax, and file transactional documents.
Now it’s about emailing and saving. Only a limited amount of
services were available online to help with ecommerce in the
not-so-distant past. Not so anymore.
But one thing has yet to change, something that’s fueled
Raybucks and prevented it from rusting over the past thirty
years: an engine of commitment. From 20th to 21st century,
over-the-counter to over a dot-com, those rust repair panels
have only sold because of Randy, Lisa, and Steve’s constant
drive to improve and grow Raybuck Auto Body Parts. And as
ecommerce revs up, it’s only beginning to burn rubber.
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