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by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: December 7, 2016

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, each with 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?”

Customer relationship management (CRM), point of sale (POS) and ordering are the modules that are different in auto parts than for general retailers. In addition, auto parts inventory software should be searchable and easy-to-use. The accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger and payroll are essentially the same as for general retailers.

Common Features of Auto Parts Store Software

In addition to core business functions, auto parts retailers should evaluate the following functions to meet their unique requirements:

Part look-up by vehicle make, model, 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. If 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 are sold in lot quantities to repair shops and car dealers. Examples are oil, cleaners and grease. 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.

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