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Commerce Commentary

What Makes a Special Order "Special"?

An aging vehicle fleet and expanding product categories contribute to unrelenting SKU proliferation. And the introduction of slow-moving products is out-pacing the A-movers. There simply isn’t enough space or money to justify stocking full lines. So, distributors carefully examine their local vehicle and product category mix, line by line, and chose what to carry in stock and what to leave at the factory distribution center. When demand occurs for the non-stocked items, they are Special Ordered or Drop Shipped to the customer from the manufacturer/supplier. “I don’t have it but it’s in my Master Warehouse”, is an acceptable answer and allows your sales people to say “yes” more often and be the one-stop source that keeps customers coming back.

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Infinite Aisles Require a Real-Time, On-Demand Supply Chain

Have you ever gone to a travel web site and entered search parameters, for example, a destination city, a departure and return dates, and the maximum number of stops? Of course you have. In seconds that web site returns dozens or hundreds of search results from all of the leading airlines – all on-demand in response to your search criteria. So, why don’t more automotive suppliers and distributors make their products visible in this same fashion?

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EDI Still Has an Important Role in B2B Commerce

Much has been written about the need for distributors and retailers to invest in new technology to survive in the digital economy. But, one of the oldest and most proven B2B technologies is still relevant and wins new adoption every day. EDI – electronic data interchange – still deserves consideration by distributor/retailers and their supply chain partners as a way to reduce cost, improve strategic relationships and increase channel visibility.

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Read My Lips – Data Sync is Vital

If the maker of the product and the distributor/retailer don’t have their product data and inventory files in perfect sync, the business systems consuming that data fuel can misfire and make some costly mistakes. Put another way, if the supplier and distributor are not perfectly aligned on important data fields for all items, the result can be lost sales, shipping overages and shortages, invoicing errors and costly adjustments. 

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Omnichannel Commerce and the Digital Aftermarket

Consumers, today, have the technology and the desire to search for goods any time of day and on any one of several platforms. It’s not uncommon for a search to begin as a tweet or text message on a smart phone, followed up on a tablet and completed in a web browser for pick-up in the store. In other words, transactions that used to follow a single channel – on-line or off-line – are now a complex web of all channels of connectivity. Retailers refer to this phenomenon as omnichannel commerce and its importance to all aftermarket retailers and distributors cannot be overstated.

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What’s Behind the Explosive Growth in SKU Count and Data Requirements?

There’s a lot of attention being paid to online commerce and eTailing, recently. The Auto Care Association study describes eTailing as the fastest growing segment of aftermarket sales and forecasts it will reach 20% of total aftermarket sales by the end of the decade. This is significant because 55% of what they measured as eTailing were purchases by commercial customers – shops, fleets and other B2B activity. Consumer purchases made up only 45% of the total and projected to see much slower growth than the commercial volume. The distinction between B2C and B2B is of little significance, however, when it comes to the data requirements. Because B2B buyers are nothing other than B2C buyers who happen to be at work.

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Five Investments that Pave the Way for Online Commerce

ECommerce is effectively a store that never closes filled with infinite isle of product. But success is directly related to the quality, consistency and completeness of the product content found in your online store. In the digital aftermarket, the customer is no longer guided by a knowledgeable parts professional. Their purchase decisions are driven by the accuracy and completeness of the content on the screen. Nothing will turn off a customer faster than a missing image or an ambiguous product description.

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