Is there a magic bullet for parts proliferation? How do you battle it?
There really is no silver bullet for this. As vehicles on the road continue to age, and OE manufacturers come out with new and redesigned platforms, proliferation will accelerate. The key is having the right parts at the right place in the supply chain. We try to use a host of information sources and analytics to predict failure and wear or replacement.
Are there any categories of parts that are doing better now because the average vehicle age is over 11 years?
Yes, there are categories that have expanded due to the older average age of the vehicle. We see categories like electrical (batteries), engines and transmissions, maintenance items (filters and brakes), sensors etc., grow because there are simply more instances as the vehicle parc expands that these systems wear out. Another factor in all this is that the 10- to 15-year-old vehicle still has substantial value resulting in continued motorist investment.
Are shops taking full advantage of your program group’s ecommerce offerings? Why or why not?
The independent shop tends to trail a bit in the uses of B2B tools, but we continue to see growth in the use of these tools that ranges four to five times the overall sales growth. Thankfully, the time and resources NAPA has invested in our connectivity solutions has positioned us as an industry leader in the B2B eCommerce area. Many of our customers are buying more than 90 percent of their parts without picking up the phone.
How do you view new car dealers — adversary or customer? Can you talk a little about that?
The new car dealer is absolutely a customer and a growing segment of our business. Conflicts of interest between customer verticals will always exist as long as there’s competition for the same vehicle, but NAPA is extremely careful to manage these conflicts with integrity and respect.