“First-of-its-kind” Ecommerce Platform Provides Value-priced Equipment and Services

IronDirect ecommerce platform offers an Amazon-like approach to buying new equipment, attachments, undercarriages and parts, accessories, as well as used equipment, maintenance items and service items.

Value-priced equipment sold on the IronDirect ecommerce platform will be co-branded and come with the full aftersales support of the IronDirect team.
Value-priced equipment sold on the IronDirect ecommerce platform will be co-branded and come with the full aftersales support of the IronDirect team.

The developers behind the thwarted launch of ICP in 2014 have developed a new and improved iteration of the online buying platform for “value-priced” construction equipment. IronDirect.com launched today as a “first-of-its-kind” ecommerce site offering new and used equipment, attachments, accessories, undercarriages and parts and maintenance and service items.

IronDirect.com is a product of IronDirect, a subsidiary of Liquidity Services, a global ecommerce organization that sells surplus and used equipment across the globe. According to Tim Frank, IronDirect president, his original company, ICP, was acquired by Liquidity Services in 2015 and the two entities formed IronDirect. (ICP continues to exist as a legal entity.) By the time of today's launch, approximately $16 million had been invested in development of the ecommerce site, which hosts a suite of services spanning the “entire life-cycle of owning an asset” — from purchase and operation to liquidation from the fleet.

“Liquidity Services is a NASDAQ-traded ecommerce [organization] operating in nine marketplaces, with approximately $6 billion in completed transactions over the life of the company,” Frank notes. “[This gives IronDirect] a global infrastructure and we have a partner that is active in selling used [products], as well. That has opened up the suite of services.

“IronDirect.com is what we call the first full-featured ecommerce site,” he adds. “We built it around the structure and usability of Amazon, so you’re going to see a very clean look and a very simple interface.”

Relaunch Brings New Opportunity and Offerings

IronDirect resurrects a concept first introduced by Frank and his partners at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2014. At that time, ICP was launched in partnership with IronPlanet as an ecommerce site for high-quality, "value-priced" Chinese construction equipment brands, with IronPlanet offering an audience of 1.5 million users already familiar with buying heavy equipment online. Shortly after the launch, however, challenges arose from key industry OEMs, and IronPlanet was forced to terminate the contract with ICP.

An ensuing legal battle brought ICP to the attention of Liquidity Services, and opened the door to the acquisition. With Liquidity providing an established ecommerce infrastructure and a healthy infusion of cash, IronDirect relaunched as a more comprehensive platform offering a far broader variety of services and capabilities.

“We offer construction equipment buyers a revolutionary and safe way to not only acquire equipment but sell equipment and acquire services, attachments, accessories, etc.,” Frank states. “We offer a convenient online platform for purchasing and reselling everything that a customer needs. To make an online experience work in the real world, [we offer] a suite of innovative technologies and processes that enable that to come alive.”

This new and improved enterprise has set lofty goals. “We didn’t set out to sell some Chinese brand to a few small customers here and there,” says Frank. “We set out to offer a suite of services that is comparable to the industry leader, with value-priced products to unlock that value.”

IronDirect.com does so, in part, by offering all-new equipment at a substantially lower price than leading models, with stated cost savings of 30% to 50% over the life of the machine in the fleet. This encompasses the lower initial purchase price and accrued interest, reduced cost of ownership and lower cost of disposal.

As part of its new equipment offering, IronDirect is partnering with LongKing and Shantui, two of the leading Chinese heavy equipment suppliers. LongKing excavators and wheel loaders and Shantui dozers are being manufactured specifically for the U.S. market, with EPA emissions-compliant Cummins engines (currently Tier 3 with Tier 4 Final models in development), ZF transmissions, Kawasaki pumps and other proven components. Stock and “stock plus” (readily accessorized) models are typically available within 10-13 days of order; custom configurations from the factory require longer lead times (approximately 90 days from order to delivery).

To address any potential questions about product quality, IronDirect implemented a three-stage quality control process that includes inspections prior to shipment from China; upon arrival in the U.S.; and at delivery to the customer. A QR code, or “birth certificate,” is placed on each new machine. The proprietary DirectAssist app enables the user to scan the code and access all quality audits, part/component serial numbers and more. DirectAssist also provides access to on-call technical service specialists via phone, chat or video call.

[VIDEO] Overview of IronDirect's Quality Control Process

New equipment comes with a two-year/4,000-working-hour full machine warranty. A 2+ million-sq.-ft. parts facility in Columbus, OH, is being fully stocked to support all new products offered on the ecommerce site. In addition to the Chinese brands, this currently includes Magni lift equipment, as well as exclusive online marketing agreements for the sale of Paladin brand attachments and Berco undercarriages (retail sales).

Service Your Way

IronDirect is taking rather extraordinary steps to ensure it can deliver on its assurances of substantially lower life-cycle costs, starting with its Service Your Way program. Buyers of new machines can choose from three service-related options:

  1. Self-service: Qualifying customers can perform warranty repairs at their own facilities and get reimbursed for labor (at $110 per labor hour) and at full MSRP for parts. IronDirect will also pay up to $300 in travel expenses per claim.
  2. Dealer service: Customers can select any pre-authorized dealer or service provider they prefer. If the preferred dealer or service provider is not pre-authorized, they can apply through IronDirect.com’s self-service portal.
  3. Service via authorized service partners: IronDirect has set up authorized service partner locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

[VIDEO] What is IronDirect Service Your Way?

“Service Your Way allows [customers] to work most efficiently with whatever capacity they have available,” says Andy Clevenger, vice president of operations, IronDirect. This includes working on equipment from day one — while it’s under warranty — after completing the qualification process. Service support is accessed via the DirectAssist app.

The standard DirectTrac telematics system provides another avenue to monitor machine status, maintain its health and manage service and repair. “Every machine that we sell, we put our proprietary telematics system on it,” says Frank. However, IronDirect takes a slightly different approach than traditional equipment suppliers. “We use that tool to manage that asset, directly monitoring the life and the events that are going on with that asset.”

[VIDEO] A Look at Features of IronDirect Value Price Machine Monitors

IronDirect technical support then utilizes the data provided to expedite repairs, offer application engineering support and fulfill its parts commitment. “Because telematics is delivered directly from us to the customer, we can stay directly in communication with the customer,” says Frank. Logistics management can be facilitated through the proprietary AssetZone software.

Any parts required for repair or service can be ordered at IronDirect.com (or via SmartEquip) with guaranteed overnight delivery. “If the machine fails and we don’t get you that part within 48 hours, we will pay for a replacement rental machine,” Frank assures.

Used Equipment Sales

Equipment buyers on IronDirect automatically become members of Iron Edge, which provides access to Liquidity Services’ existing global buyer base.

“The used portion of our site will be branded differently [from Liquidity Services]. But when someone puts their used piece on IronDirect.com, it immediately goes out to all the other established marketplaces that Liquidity has — government, oil and gas, etc.,” Frank explains. “So that equipment gets great exposure.”

Members of Iron Edge also receive reduced fees when selling used equipment. The higher the dollar volume of equipment purchased on IronDirect.com, the lower the fees when reselling machines.

Even with the access afforded by Liquidity Services, there are admittedly some hurdles for the site to attract a more targeted used equipment buyer base. However, Frank is confident in its potential for growth. “We expect to be a very large player in the used equipment market online,” he states.