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Create the Perfect Automotive Aftermarket Parts Electronic Catalog


4/6/2010
By Mark Phillips

Let's suppose you have a chance to completely remake electronic catalogs; to go back in time.
 
Mark Phillips


It's not some science fiction movie.

Let's suppose you have a chance to completely remake electronic catalogs; to go back in time.

While some counter pros enjoy the familiarity of use of paper catalogs, it's clear electronic catalogs are here to stay and will be, if they're not already, the biggest source of information for parts lookup.

So take that time machine, go back and create an electronic catalog anew.

What's missing, if anything, from current catalogs?

What features would you add?

Describe the experience of using catalogs and how you might change it.

What's most frustrating? What works well?
  Previous Comments
avatar   Gabe   star   5/4/2010   3:08 PM

Ok! I got it on the E-cat problem. If we had an E-cat that could track customers phone calls that call us. Then track who they call after us. When they call the competitor. An automated targeting system would launch a small projectile into the competitors roof. Sending out an electro magnet pulse from the projectile. That would should down all their electronics for a few days. Until they reinstalled new electronic devices. SO that combined with the cost of the electronic equipment could put them out of business over time.



There ya go! The perfect E-cat!




avatar   Gabe   star   5/4/2010   2:56 PM

Jess I'm telling you, become a mutant and destroy the competition with your super powers.



avatar   Ed   star   5/4/2010   1:24 PM

They jack up the price? I can't imagine why, you seem like the sweetest, quietest, most out-going guy on here. What do they have against you/O'Reilly? Is it because we have been in business, successfully longer than AutoZone or cause Advance to close several stores in Roanoke and get bumped down to third on the list of major auto parts retailers?



avatar   Gabe   star   5/3/2010   4:07 PM

Jess-See you are not extraordinary enough. You said, "Everything within my power" I saw a movie this weekend where these super hero people are mutants, and this one woman she can cause all kinds of weather things to happen. This other guy he has like knives made of admantium that shoot out from between his fingers. One guy can even shoot laser beams from his eyes. You need to get those powers! Become a mutant!



Or just be able to like channel the energy from all counter people that have come before you. Even the big wigs like Manny, Moe, and Jack and Dead people from the O'Reilly family. I bet if you can do that! You are well on your way to being able to do what Ed is asking you to do.



Then again you probably don't get paid enough to do that. And let's face it if you could do all this. You DEFINATLEY would not be in auto parts biz!




avatar   JESS   star   5/3/2010   1:48 PM

ED- ACTUALLY NO, I CAN'T GET A BETTER PRICE FROM THESE WD'S. AS A MATTER OF FACT ONCE THEY KNOW WHERE I CALL FROM THEY JACK UP THE PRICE; LIKE I SAID THIS IS A VERY COMPETITIVE MARKET, AND I DO NOT JUST GIVE UP I DO ALL WITHIN MY POWER TO GET THE SALE. EVEN IF I HAVE TO REBOX PARTS I WILL DO IT TO TAKE CARE OF MY CUSTOMERS.



avatar   Gabe   star   5/2/2010   4:00 PM

Jess- Ed just seems grumpy right now. He is pretty smart, it's just sometimes he is extraordinary and who's not interested in being extraordinary!? YES! Reference to Mitch's article.



avatar   Ed   star   5/2/2010   12:24 PM

And you can't get a better price than your shop accounts?



avatar   JESS    star   4/30/2010   7:14 PM

ED. I KNOW YOU ARE NOT THIS DUMB! DON'T YOU THINK I ALREADY HAVE ACCOUNTS WITH THESE WD'S; AND SO DO MY CUSTOMERS.



avatar   Ed   star   4/30/2010   2:49 PM

So you just throw up your arms and blame the system when you get beat? How about setting up an account with Pronto, WorldPac, IMC, etc and never saying no? Tell them instead you need to make a few calls and you will get right back with them? Seeing as all 15 competitors are basically stacked up on each other, travel time to get the part and get it to your customer should be unaffected.



avatar   Jess    star   4/30/2010   11:25 AM

Well just because you haven't heard of something it does not mean it does not exist, heard of Pronto, Worldpac, IMC, Calstate, and They not only beat me in price they also beat me in availability and sometimes quality IMC supplies OEM import parts. You need to get out more.



avatar   Ed   star   4/29/2010   12:33 PM

AT LEAST 15 competitors within a 3 mile radius, eh? I don't think there were even 15 on Counterman's last ranking sheet. Let's count'em off, 1. NAPA, 2. CarQuest, 3. AutoZone, 4. Advance, 5. Pep Boys, 6. Federated and I can't think of anymore large chains that have the buying power and space to be able to compete with a Green Store. So the rest are tiny mom & pops, local chains or Bumper-to-Bumper clones and really all of those may beat you on is price, on occasion.



avatar   crystal   star   4/28/2010   4:07 PM

AMEN Stina..just love the ppl who describe a part look it up go to pic. no photo..really helpful. Agree w gabe and will. Looking thru all the stuff sometimes can even be confusing. Should know by now what sells the most..put it at the top. Save time.



avatar   JESSE   star   4/27/2010   6:12 PM

CARL N. & COMPANY I AM PRETTY FAST WITH THE SYSTEM FOR JUST BEING A GREEN STORE FOR A LITTLE OVER A MONTH LIKE GABE SAID; I HARDLY USE THE MOUSE AND TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, MY ISS CUSTOMERS WILL NOT WAIT FOR THE PART IF I DON'T HAVE A PART THERE ARE AT LEAST FIFTEEN COMPETITORS WITHIN A THREE MILE RADIUS OF MY STORE SO NO MY CUSTOMERS WILL NOT WAIT. WAITING MAY WORK FOR SOME OF THE STORES IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE OR THAT ARE TWO DAYS FROM EVERYWHERE ELSE, ANOTHER POINT I AM NOT BASHING THE GREEN SYSTEM BUT JUST REMEMBER EVERY SYSTEM HAS FLAWS; IT IS WHEN WE START THINKING THAT WE CAN NOT BE IMPROVED ON THAT SOMEONE ELSE COMES ALONG AND TAKES THE RUG FROM UNDER US.



avatar   Stina   star   4/26/2010   10:39 PM

My favorite is the classic "Photo Available" camera image that turns out to be a picture of "No Photo Available". Faves!



avatar   Will   star   4/26/2010   7:42 AM

Ed I see your point. I normally run ISS but do work retail when needed. The shops are pretty good about their orders. The retail guys is where a good VIN decoder would be helpful. I guess that's what I should have stated at the beginning. I generally suggest a shop diagnose any major issues to eliminate "Wrong/Didn't Fix It" parts. Gabe--the pimply faced kids are programming our systems remember? I've never sold a powder-coated caliper in 10 years. I've sold the paint kits. Like you, I want to see what's in stock priced lowest to highest then the non-stocking items or "upgrade to" items.



avatar   Gabe   star   4/24/2010   2:13 PM

So your saying I really do need those Brembo rotors right underneath my other rotors. So I can offer them, and I am just not fast enough, I see.



The O'Reilly system is good. Do I need to see list price? Nope! I need to see what I have, how many, and what the price is, before anything else. For instance, I don't need to scroll through loaded calipers, powdercoated calipers, calipers that make toast, before I see the plain caliper with hardware that I actually have in stock at the bottom of the page. I am not going to ask someone who wants just a caliper, "Do you want the loaded caliper? Would you like a red powdercoated caliper? How about a caliper that can cook you breakfast?" "Oh no!? You just want a regular plain caliper! OK! Let me page down 50 times to see if we have it!"



That is what Jess and I am talking about. I have been a converted O'Reilly store for over a year. I have the system down pretty well. I have most numbers memorized, and use the 10 key not a mouse. My manager comes and asks me about how to do certain things in the system. I compete with my ISS every month sometimes I beat him in sales, sometimes I am just shy of him within a few thousand. I am not slow or not knowing the sytem by any means.



I can find parts just fine through the garbage. It would just be nice if the garbage was down further, and the stuff I really want, and my customers really want up top. If a customer walks in that needs the caliper that makes toast. Guess what!? I know I have to page down 50 times, because it is at the bottom.



No one is saying the computer system sucks. Everyone is giving ideas about how it can be improved.




avatar   l muha   star   4/23/2010   5:43 PM

well jess i believe our team green parts lookup is one of the best systems and they put those parts there for a darn good reason so you know as a good parts specialist that you can get those parts if they dont put those there and you dont see them then you wont offer them to your customer and if they want those parts then they will wait for them and if they still dont want them then they will have to go to the dealership which means they might have to wait anyway and you loose a sale and that is not what team green is about so i say it is good that they put those parts that you call clutter there



avatar   carl n   star   4/23/2010   5:20 PM

well gabe and jess, like i said once you get faster at looking up parts you will realize what i said. im an iss also and once you get faster you will know what im talking about. you will know what to offer and what know to. so give it time. i dont know ahout what you two use before but i know our system kicks napas, carquest.and advances systems butt. and also remember if ours sucks so bad why is it our company bought yours. so live green now or die



avatar   Ed   star   4/23/2010   3:43 PM

Will, how many "wrong parts" returns are actual "I gave you the wrong part" returns and not "Well that didn't fix my problem" returns? Usually overwhelming percent of the latter unless you employ a bunch of idiots.



I like to think of parts houses as the pharmacies of the automotive industry. You go to your mechanic, your car's doctor, he gives you a prescription of what is needed to fix it and we fill that prescription. In the medical field you have people who self-medicate and diagnose, just like in our field. Yet you don't see me trying to return my girlfriend's tampons because it didn't stop her bleeding. So why do we take back that sensor because it didn't stop their misfire?




avatar   Will   star   4/21/2010   2:58 PM

If "Parts Houses" had the VIN decoder that eliminated all the stuff not specific to a vehicle, that would be seriouslly awesome. It would help stop those "Wrong Parts" returns. A part locator would also help us to tell customers where the "thingamagig" goes and what it's connected to/beside of.



avatar   Roger   star   4/21/2010   1:11 PM

E-cats are just a tool. The real deal is "great customer service". People don't really care how you look up their parts as long as they are the right ones the first time, fairly priced, and in stock. I've had many customers tell me that the "red & black mafia" never go the extra mile to try and find a part in a paper catalog, asking some one else or calling some one else that knows, but never say no to begin with. It would be a perfect world for parts people if the customer always knew exactly what they wanted and the type of vehicle they had, but that is why we are the "professionals" and they are buying from us.



avatar   JESS   star   4/21/2010   12:27 PM

CARL N. i AM SORRY NUT I HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH THE GREEN SYSTEM FOR A LITTLE OVER A MONTH, AND I AM PRETTY FAST WITH IT, HOWEVER I HAVE TO AGREE WITH GABE WHY CLUTTER THE SCREEN WITH PARTS I DO NOT HAVE AND THAT MOST OF THE TIME WILL TAKE A WEEK TO COME IN. I AM AN ISS AND WHERE I LIVE MY CUSTOMERS DON'T HAVE TIME TO WAIT FOR FACTORY DIRECT ORDERS.



avatar   Kim   star   4/20/2010   12:29 PM

Gabe, yes manufacturers can be prioritized..no I did not work at Checker.



avatar   Gabe   star   4/18/2010   3:12 PM

Kim did you work for Checker? The checker system did have stocking parts first. All the brembo, and EBC stuff people rarely ask for was at the bottom.



Carl N. I am plenty fast with the system. The only thing that nails me. Is trying to sift through the multi colored line, and green bars of crap. Along with sifting through the multiple brake pads.....that Oh! Not that one that one I have to order. For instance how many time do you see wagner brakes. You see the ones you have in stock, but you all see they have multiple versions of that pad. That may be special order. If something is special order put it at the bottom.



Also the one that throws me for a loop is when a car has multiple engines. Let's say one engine is a 2.7L the other is a 2.2L How many times have you looked for brake pads, and it has a note under it for 2.7L only, but there isn't a 2.2L option on any of the pads. So you go to the book to find out they are the same. That ****** me off! That is a waste of time when we are swamped with people.




avatar   CARL N.   star   4/13/2010   6:07 PM

IF IT TAKES NEW WORLD ENGINEERING 2 MINUTES TO QUOTE A PART WITH OREILLYS SYSTEM THAN YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. OUR SYSTEM IS BETTER THAN THE OTHERS AND IS GETTING BETTER. LETS TRY TO GET BETTER AND FASTER BEFORE PUTTING THIS SYSTEM DOWN, ONCE YOU GET USE TO IT THEN YOU MIGHT BE FASTER.



avatar   b   star   4/12/2010   5:17 PM

gabe alldata is owned by the autozone so you know the green mafia will not purchase that



avatar   Kim   star   4/12/2010   4:16 PM

diagrams in e-cats would be helpful,especially in chassis and exhaust. Thing about having to scroll through so many parts that you don't stock, a store in a diffferent region may, so the part has to show in the e-cat. Too expensive and techincal to provide each region with it's own version of e-cat just to eliminate lines not stocked there. I agree, would be great, just no always cost effective.



avatar   Gabe   star   4/10/2010   2:08 PM

One thing I miss CSK had was that program that told me what cars a part fits on. I know you can hit 9 and put the part number in and it says 99-04 Chev. But I have a u pull junk yard 1/4 mile away. I get questions all the time about what other cars can I find this same part on.



I also wish that we had the Moog suspension pictures from the book in our system. Because it gets confusing understanding the wording of tie rods, for vehicles that had the old tie rod from steering gear to spindle set ups.



I think O'Reilly needs alldata, here in Minnesota all the local libraries have it to use free. But I sure would much rather have it here.







avatar   Jess   star   4/9/2010   5:44 PM

After working several years with the csk e cat, I was introduced to O'Reilly's e cat while it is somewhat better as it has some more features that the csk system did not have, for example schematics and component look up, I think that some is better than none, one thing that always seems to be missing though are timing mark diagrams, I wish that the people in IT realized how many DIY are out there doing their own work and made a point in adding information like that; and while I agree that being asked about a bolt size is frustrating; let's remember that customers look for answers to questions that they do not know with people that they think are or have more knowledge than they do, so when they ask me for a bolt I suggest bringing in one of the bolts that they are looking for and we both find one together. One more thing I think that paper catalogs will not go away there is still a lot of information that one can find in a paper catalog that is not available in the computer. Also on CSK's system I was able to open up at least five windows and help five different customers at a time if I wanted to, with the O'Reilly system I can only help two at a time. There should also be some questions that IT can ask seasoned counter guys and ask how can we help you help more customers efficiently.



avatar   Doc Brown   star   4/7/2010   9:07 AM

GREAT SCOTT! Time travel has forced me to re-live many a better time. Problem is, those better times required lots of acctual work. While back in 1955, I witnessed a parts guy calling in his daily stock order using a desk sized note pad. He was smack in the middle of the prosses when I arrived and was unable to put his supplier on hold to help me. Once he had completed his laborious task, He scouered his catalogs searching for my part. No luck with the Mr. Fusion gasket, but I bought a tub of GoJo as a token of my thanks. He then broke out a price sheet...yellow one I believe, Hand wrote the sales ticket, calculated sales tax, listed the item on his giant order pad and collected 53 cents from me for half an hour of skilled labor. My how I don't miss the good old days. That being said, I just moments ago, here in 2010, looked up struts for a 2000 Taurus. My E-CAT ask if it was a sedan. After that info was entered, it still asked if it was a four door. Ever seen a Taurus that was NOT a four door. Yes, there were wagons, but that should have filtered out with the whole sedan question. The guys writing the programs today don't understand the terminology that is used daily at the store level. Still beats the good old days though!



avatar   Ed   star   4/6/2010   6:40 PM

There is nothing wrong with most major chains' catalog systems. The problem is human. We can't add a 'whatchamacallit' section or 'that thing that goes like' and those who refuse to believe a throttle body injection unit is NOT a carburetor, let alone those who know the name of the part but murder the English language, example "scruts", "discributor", "rotaries", "PVC valve".

















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