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NAPA Auto Parts partners with PartsTech

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A six-year old startup has gotten the attention of a 93-year old industry stalwart. PartTech has announced that it is partnering with NAPA Auto Parts, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Genuine Parts Company (NYSE: GPC), to open e-commerce sales distribution channels to an industry that is heavily reliant on retail location, aftermarket shops, and dealership sales.

Led by co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer Erik St. Pierre, PartsTech is taking head-on the complexity of selling auto parts and making waves in the $73 billion-per-year wholesale auto parts industry. While most anything can be purchased online these days, online automotive parts sales have been only started gaining traction in recent years. St. Pierre attributes that to the complexity of the business. 

“Unlike most product categories that are relatively simple to describe and display online, auto parts are unique due to their complex relationships to particular vehicles, and often to other parts," St. Pierre said. "For example, a brake rotor may only fit your Jetta if the car had been manufactured in a certain date range and came with the sport package. Auto parts sales are esoteric enough that even online-retail giants have struggled, and continue to struggle, with automotive parts."

According to PartsTech, 75 percent of commercial parts orders are still placed over the phone. PartsTech allows buyers to log in and search for needed auto parts and find which stores closest to them have the part in stock and, if possible, can deliver it to their location. Using PartsTech’s search functionality speeds up the process because one search replaces many phone calls.

PartsTech isn’t the fronting page most consumers will see when they access NAPA’s online shopping site. Instead, PartsTech works like a site that aggregates travel deals, but for auto parts, connecting repair shops and parts suppliers to the parts they need in their local area. 

“In the same way that Expedia acts as an aggregation platform that brings together providers like Delta or American Airlines so that you don't have to waste time visiting 10 airline websites to book a trip, we help aggregate over 20,000 parts stores across the U.S. so that repair shops can search once, and find the parts they need to repair your car,” explained St. Pierre.

There are 160,000 repair shops in the U.S. Since PartsTech's 2012 founding they have added 55 percent of those stores to their parts catalogue. Their technology also has integrated their parts ordered system within 25 shop management systems, allowing for parts to be purchased using existing work orders. PartsTech’s data shows that users who are integrated via SMS order 64 percent more parts than those working only with PartsTech.com. 

With its NAPA Auto Parts and Advance Auto Parts partnership among others, PartsTech aims to help vehicle owners get back out on the road sooner.

“We originally built the PartsTech system for professional repair shops, but professionals and enthusiasts share a common pain point: not having a central source to track a particular car part, which is often identified while the car is torn apart," St. Pierre said. "To get cars back on the road, time is of the essence."

PartsTech estimates that most parts stores deliver parts to their commercial customers in 30 to 45 minutes.

As generational turnover of auto repair shops continues to evolve the industry, PartsTech sees room for expansion. Additional partners will be announced in 2019.

 

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