Let’s strike B2B and B2C from our vocabularies

“The most damaging phrase in the language is: It’s always been done this way.” — Grace Hopper, Computer Scientist and US Navy Rear Admiral

Looking back over the last 10-15 years, business people transacting with other businesses simply had lower expectations than what they experienced as consumers. During the 9-5 workweek, transactions were done over the phone and in person. Documents were faxed and sent back and forth over a several-week period. Forget one-click digital transactions. The process wasn’t smooth, but this was work, right?

On weekends, these same business people would click two buttons and order Amazon packages delivered to their doorstep. If the package was (God forbid) delivered in three days, instead of two — it was time for a Twitter tweet-storm at the company.

Why is it that these same people had vastly different expectations for B2B transactions at work than their own B2C transactions at home?

Well, that’s changing. Research from Deloitte Digital indicates that 34% of buyers are more likely to buy from companies that master customer experience than from those that do not. Even more, 80% of B2B buyers now expect real-time interaction. Expectations for business transactions now equal expectations for consumer transactions and companies that don’t acknowledge that will be left behind.

In rental, that means companies need to enable their business to accept rental requests 24/7. Renters want to sign digital agreements, pay their invoices, and manage their rentals on their time — not when your sales reps happen to be available.

To achieve this, rental companies need to lean into online reservations and offer self-serve rental transactions. Online transactions aren’t right for 100% of customers, but there is a growing population who wants and expects to engage with your rental store digitally. 

What got you here, won’t get you there.  It’s now time to strike the terms B2B and B2C from our vocabularies.

Source: https://deloitte.wsj.com/cmo/2021/03/15/close-the-expectation-gap-with-b2b-customers/

Source: https://www.convinceandconvert.com/online-customer-experience/buyers-expect-real-time-interaction/

A decade of e-commerce growth in 8 weeks — what’s next?

“There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

How is this quote from over 100 years ago, now relevant to e-commerce technology in the rental industry?

This theme has been playing out in e-commerce trends right before our eyes for the past few decades. E-commerce first started making meaningful headway in 2000, when Amazon and other upstart companies, started making inroads with 1% of retail sales happening over the internet.

us ecommerce penetration

Source: Bank of America U.S. Department of Commerce, ShawSpring Research, 2020

Since then, e-commerce sales grew linearly with 16% of retail transactions occurring digitally at the start of 2020. Then the pandemic happened. In just 8 weeks between March – April 2020, that number almost doubled to 27%. That’s a decade of e-commerce growth in just eight weeks. And we aren’t going back.

Consumer habits are fundamentally different and renters are expecting the same from their rental companies. Once the barrier of setting up the online account, getting used to the functionality, etc. is met, new habits are formed. Consumers now expect to rent equipment online the same way they expect to order food from DoorDash, order a cab from Uber, and book plane tickets from delta.com. The Covid pandemic will ultimately accelerate history rather than re-shape it. Is your rental company ready for the surge in e-commerce rental transactions?

Source: Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity


Kyle Clements is the founder of quipli, a business that helps take equipment rental businesses online. Kyle is relatively new to the industry, however to fast track his knowledge interviewed over 100 equipment rental businesses to find out whether or not they wanted an online store front, and what the business requirements would be. We dive into the results, while talking about general advice around the topic of e-commerce and the equipment rental industry.



Right now, approximately 20 percent of your existing and prospective customers would prefer to do business with you online as opposed to by phone or in person. Ten years ago, that number was closer to zero percent. Ten years from now, that number could conceivably reach 80 percent.

Driving this upsurge will be consumers who belong to the Millennial and Generation Z age groups. You have been serving more and more of them in recent times and that trend is only going to continue.

Inasmuch as these younger generations are destined to become the dominant demographic making up your customer base, it will pay to start pleasing them now — and what will please them most is the ability to make reservations entirely online, whether by computer or with a smartphone.

Younger customers — whether they are interested in renting for commercial work or for home DIY projects — want the same things from you. What they want is convenience and a satisfying experience. Accordingly, the equipment and event rental industry needs to embrace the “one-click” generation.

Add an online renting capability. In order to successfully serve the one-click generation, you’ll need to acquire the online renting capability your younger customers are eager to utilize.

You don’t need to go full Amazon.com, but you do need to mimic Amazon’s convenience. Your online customers should be able to easily log into your system, quickly find desired equipment and accessories, place them into a virtual cart, sail over to checkout, and then breeze through the remainder of the transaction.

Chances are that you already operate a website to promote your business. If so, then you have the necessary foundation for adding a backend system that permits you to offer online renting.

Any such backend system you acquire will need to provide these features:

  • Optimized SEO capability.
  • Access to the cloud.
  • Virtual shopping cart.
  • Plenty of checkout functionality.
  • Robust payment gateway.
  • Electronic signature collection.
  • The ability to upload proof of insurance.
  • Customer access to orders via a password-protected portal.
  • Automated email confirmations, reminders and other notifications.
  • Integration with your existing system to permit management and approval of incoming online orders.

Those system features will provide your customers a powerful option to the old-fashioned way of obtaining needed equipment — namely calling on the phone and inquiring as to whether a particular piece of machinery is available on a specified date, then verbally relaying required information in order to secure a reservation.

How might those who value convenience over all else respond if you’re unable to, for whatever reason, take the call and it goes to voicemail? Given the choice of twiddling their thumbs while waiting for a callback or contacting your competition — a rival that offers the instant gratification of renting online — you can rest assured that most Millennials and Gen Z customers will pick the latter.

Many enterprises address this missed-call problem by hiring extra staff. The deficiency with that strategy is it increases overhead and eats up profits. Online renting, on the other hand, is a solid solution to perennial labor shortages in that it allows you to maintain your service levels with fewer employees.

Also, let’s assume the customer was able to connect with your staff by phone. Afterward, the customer must physically come to your office and complete the paperwork process as well as give you a cash deposit. For the customer, this call and trip represent potentially a couple of hours of time lost.

Adjusting current processes to an online world. The bread and butter of rental companies is providing a high-touch, consultative service to ensure that renters can use the right tool for the project — not what they think is the right tool. Oftentimes, renters come into a store thinking they need one thing, when in fact they need something else entirely. However, thanks to your expertise, they’ll avoid much headache and frustration.

In the short term, it may be helpful to view online rental requests as the starting point of your relationship with your customers. This is especially true when you’re dealing with first-time renters. For them, it can be helpful to institute processes whereby you’ll call them and confirm their order to ensure they’re renting exactly what they need.

Longer term, technology is well-suited to remove these phone calls and further streamline the rental process. Think of Trunk Club as an example — shoppers are asked a series of questions related to their personal style, size, use case and budget, which are then curated to enable the system to make wardrobe recommendations. Digital decision trees like this already are being used in other business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions, and it’s completely feasible to layer them atop the already great online renting experiences available today.

Online renting’s biggest advantages. Beyond cost savings and streamlined operations, a key advantage of online renting is that customers feel they have greater control over the process. They can fill out the forms at their pace rather than at yours. Once the initial account is set up, subsequent transactions are even easier, which leads to more frequent rental transactions. In addition, by having your catalog easily accessible online, customers can browse more efficiently and rent things they didn’t know they needed until they see it presented to them online.

Still, the biggest advantage of online renting is the substantial improvement in the quality of the experience delivered to the customer. Online renting technology gives your market another channel through which it can interact with you. The more channels available for interaction, the stronger your position is within that market.

The top rental businesses — United Rentals, Sunbelt and The Home Depot — have each built their own online renting platforms. Independents, meanwhile, have fallen behind because they lack the millions of dollars to invest in developing their own versions of the systems operated by the biggest players. For this reason, increasing numbers of smaller outfits are turning to plug-and-play technology — affordable yet customizable software developed for the express purpose of letting them compete against the industry giants.

If you decide to introduce e-commerce to your business mix, look for a platform that can translate your brand, customer loyalty and expertise into a highest-quality online presence. In other words, choose a platform that enables you to be outstanding — the very essence of an amazing rental experience as Millennials and Gen Z would define it. 

Kyle Clements is the founder and CEO of Quipli, Oakland, Calif., a maker of advanced software that lets independent rental companies accept customer orders and receive payments online, as well as gain unprecedented control over rental inventories, scheduling and much more. For more information about the company, visit Booth No. 8007 at The ARA Show™ 2021 in Las Vegas or go to quipli.com.