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Article > Editor’s Note

The Internet: Coming To A Store Near You?


8/18/2010
By Mark Phillips

There’s a bit of a trend emerging in parts stores throughout the country: They’re getting Internet access.
 
Mark Phillips
There’s a bit of a trend emerging in parts stores throughout the country: They’re getting Internet access.

While that might not seem like a big deal to people outside the aftermarket, it certainly is inside. Internet access at the counter, up to this point, has been somewhat of a luxury in some stores. Just about everyone has it at home or on their cell or smartphone, but inside parts stores, that hasn’t necessarily been the case.

The reasons for not having access at the counter thus far range from not having the technological infrastructure to accommodate it to not wanting counterpros to waste time fiddling away on in the Web on things that have nothing to do with their jobs.

In some stores, “green screen” or CRT systems meant Web access simply wasn’t possible. But the fears over what counterpros might do that are fueling this Internet prohibition are overblown. There are many more pluses than minuses to letting employees hop on the Web. For example, there are many training opportunities available online that counterpros can and should take advantage of. And if parts store management is concerned about particular sites, they can always choose to block them inside the store. Plenty of companies already do this. (A note: Don’t be too quick to block YouTube.com. A number of companies take advantage of the free hosting of their training videos on the site, and cutting off staff to it can have an undesired effect.)

I’ve spent enough time in parts stores to know that for the people working the counter, there’s very little downtime, especially in heavily trafficked jobber stores, for example. Once the phone handset goes down in the cradle from the last call, another one comes in. You know the drill.

If a counterpro constantly wastes time online, it’s going to show in their numbers sooner or later, probably sooner. And most counterpros work in pretty close proximity to each other, so flagrant Internet use for non-work purposes would be pretty easy to spot.

Having Web access at the counter could only help counterpros do their jobs better.

There are now ample catalog options that make Internet access at the counter something that few can do without, which is what the Internet is in the first place — a tool. A hammer is a tool. You can beat someone on the head with it. Or you can build a house with it.

Used correctly, Internet access is an indispensable tool that few businesses — including parts stores — can afford to do without. Internet access at the counter is quickly moving from a luxury to a necessity.












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