Auto parts stores outstrip the capabilities of most general retail sales packages. An auto parts store can have inventories of thousands of parts for hundreds of cars and hundreds of thousands of parts available for special order. Auto parts stores also have different categories of buyers, such as do-it-yourselfers, repair shop owners and dealers, with each category having a different discount level. Even identifying a part to sell can be challenging. One customer might come in and say “I need a Bosch vacuum pump for a 1994 Mercedes Benz S320.” The next may come in with a greasy piece of metal and a request, “Do you have any of these?”
While dealing with customers is typically done with the help of customer relationship management (CRM), point of sale (POS) and ordering, these modules are different for auto parts stores than for general retailers. The accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger and payroll are essentially the same as that for general retailers. What’s important here is that auto parts inventory software should have search functionality and be easy to use.
Sales dashboard screenshot in Springboard Retail
In addition to core business functions, auto parts retailers should evaluate the following functions to meet their unique requirements:
|Part lookup by vehicle make, model and year||The system should be able to identify any part for any car based on the vehicle’s make, model and year. The catalog should be either on premises and updated frequently or kept in the cloud by a catalog provider. In addition to finding original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, the system should be able to recommend substitute parts.|
|Integration with parts and labor catalogs||The system should be able to integrate with parts suppliers’ online catalogs for both OEM and aftermarket parts. Look for compliance with Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) iSHOP as well as integration with major parts vendors.|
|Multiple location inventory query||The POS system and the inventory system should be able to see inventory levels at all locations in order to fill a customer’s order. It should check whether the part is available locally. It should also be able to place parts “on hold” for local pick, or trigger a process to transfer the part to the store of the customer’s choosing. Advanced systems will support shipping directly to the customer after payment.|
|Seasonal order levels||The system should recommend or order seasonal merchandise; for example, tire chains and windshield scrapers in the winter and automobile detailing kits in the summer.|
|Special order tracking||If a customer requires a part that is not in stock, the system needs to locate the part from a supplier and place a special order. The system should notify the customer (or at least a clerk) when the part comes in.|
|Lot pricing/em>||Many items sold in an auto parts store, such as oil, cleaners and grease, are sold in lots to repair shops and car dealers. The system should assign the lot pricing and correctly decrease inventory.|
|Kit and assembly pricing||Car parts can be combined into kits or assemblies. The system should correctly decrease the individual parts if a kit or assembly is sold.|
A properly implemented auto part solution helps retailers. Without the software, managing thousands of different auto parts becomes challenging and further increases chances of human error, which will have a detrimental effect on the store’s image. Auto store platforms prevent these instances of manual errors, reduce overhead tasks and improve business processes by making them time- and cost-effective.
The primary benefits that can be attained by using these solutions are:
Improved point of sale transactions: These solutions help improve the checkout process for both employees and customers by reducing the wait time, automatically managing cash books, tracking stocks and running promotional campaigns. With automated billing and real-time inventory status updates, human errors can be reduced significantly, or even, eliminated completely. In addition, these solutions help facilitate credit card transactions and digital wallet payments.
Streamline inventory management: Every store owner aims to maintain optimum inventory levels because high inventory means incurring additional cost while low inventory means risking stock outs. Advanced solutions provide real-time inventory updates to track stock levels and receive alerts. The reporting feature in auto part software summarizes the overall business and product-based performance metrics to help business owners make timely decisions. With inventory levels optimized, businesses can accomplish better cash flow, prevent stock shortages and manage multiple suppliers.
Personalize customer experience: Auto parts store solutions provide customer relationship management (CRM) modules to automotive retailers. These modules help them customize the client experience, engage customers and run promotional campaigns. Advanced systems can send personalized emails and text messages targeting specific customers based on location, age, gender and other demographics. Moreover, sharing promotional campaigns with clients on occasions, such as their birthdays, anniversaries and festivals, engages clients and helps increase sales. With a centralized database, auto store owners can identify client metrics such as active buyers, inactive buyers, last purchase and the average amount of purchase.
Cost-efficient operations: These solutions enable auto store owners to automate manual data entry, send emails, track inventory, generate bills and manage payments. The barcoding scanning feature facilitates swift checkout for thousands of products, a process that is quite challenging if done manually. The software helps store operators reduce labor costs and utilize them in more important areas.
Local or single store: Single-store retailers look for a basic POS solution to handle complex retail transactions, improve customer service and manage credit card transactions. Inventory tracking functionality is a value addition to these stores. The platforms in an auto parts store management software also provide basic CRM and accounting functionalities to ease the store operator’s responsibilities.
Multi-store or regional store: Multi-location stores face specific challenges and seek solutions that can address their multi-location and multiple staff requirements. Inventory management is a requisite feature for these businesses as their stores and warehouses are usually located at different places. Automated email and text-sharing capabilities are needed to run promotional campaigns and engage clients. POS platforms to reduce check-outs are also common requirements in these stores.
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