United We Stand

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IN this industry, if you’re not a NASCAR fan, you probably should be. We know these cars are dialed in specifically for each track, each weekend, overhauled between races and completely rebuilt between seasons.

“In NASCAR, technology on common parts and safety improvements is shared by all teams. It is up to us to use the best tools to our advantage,” said NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader. “New technology is constantly adapted, leveraged and integrated in order to WIN.”

Step into an auto parts store and witness a team of individuals who day-in and day-out need to function with the efficiency of a pit crew. And if they’re the team then the vehicle to their success is their system.

In an industry that banks on parts failing, we’ve learned it’s only a matter of time before systems fail.

“Talking about technology advantages in NASCAR. We’ve shared what we’ve learned over the years, from the 43 on any given Sunday to the Saturday night level, to make the sport safer,” said Schrader.

Reliability, performance and security ie. Safety are concerns every auto parts store faces. Technology is constantly evolving to address these concerns and increase best-practice standards. Buying groups hold annual conferences, but there’s a disconnect between the discussions and the results independent business owers are able to achieve from their legacy hardware. You’ve raced with one car without so-much as pitting for the last 20-years.

Technology is changing at an ever-increasing rate and the automotive aftermarket changes day-in and day-out, so why aren’t systems dialed in like a finely tuned stock car? In the USA 10% of retail transactions happen via a smart-phone. If you aren’t offering these tools to your customers you are missing sales. Service center technicians aren’t getting paid to make a ½ dozen calls on a part, or browse the internet for how-to videos. Innovative companies have integrated solutions proven to save technicians hours, or counterman minutes per phone call, searching third-party b2b websites and reentering the same data over and over again.

More and more business is happening through personalized websites, but most systems are offline and can’t connect to their own company’s websites. Customers expect to view invoices, pay statements and view 360-degree images and audio clips on a website that’s connected to your system, but many legacy systems can’t support that type of process.

While the market continues to change, the world has become “flat” and the market for your products is growing exponentially. Amazon and eBay surpassed $11 billion in Automotive sales, and yet more than 90% of auto parts stores are still offline. If you’re selling on one marketplace such as eBay, how much more business would you gain expanding to a dozen more? Cloud solutions available in the automotive aftermarket today sync your entire inventory real-time with dozens of ecommerce market places. Shipping labels are printed alongside pick tickets and for less cost and effort than delivery, the world can become your customer. If you’re the ones with the inventory why are third-party virtual warehouses and blind-drop-shippers outselling you?

What is the total addressable market for the parts you’re selling? Locally. Regionally. Nationally. Globally. Are you reaching that market?

“What [cloud system] does is not hidden. They’re leveraging technology to make improvements daily that benefits all of their users,” said Schrader.

While you read this article your peers are sharing knowledge and reaping massive benefits. In the automotive aftermarket, best-in-class cloud-based systems push updates as often as NASCAR.com releases new top headlines; daily.

Daily updates are driven by the ideas from you and your peers. The ideas you’ve waited 30-years for your system to implement, but it couldn’t. Cloud systems keep you on the forefront of the market and allow you to be the first to take advantage of new selling opportunities. You literally can’t imagine what all these updates will do for you, because while they will include your brilliant ideas, they’ll also include your peers’ ideas. The ones you never even thought of. The ones you’ll have because it’s one solution. Buying groups have it right, but they need a platform that can unite their vision. Third party interfaces offer invaluable information and yet, if it’s not visible from your purchasing page, you may not always have time to use it. We need better tools and more selling opportunities. The automotive aftermarket has to adapt an all-for-one and one-for-all mentality. United we’ll grow. United we stand.