Keystone News

According to Statista, one of the world’s largest statistics portals providing users with access to relevant data from over 18,000 sources, the United States automotive aftermarket soared to the 137 billion dollar mark in 2014 with no signs of taking its foot off the gas anytime soon. In fact, forecasters estimate steady growth through 2018, a projection that spells increased sales for retailers this holiday season.

As the automotive aftermarket continues to ride an upward trend, so does its e-commerce sales channel, which continues to benefit from healthy year over year double-digit growth. Hedges & Company, a full-service market research and digital marketing company serving the automotive aftermarket and motorsports industries, estimates the automotive aftermarket’s e-commerce sales will continue to grow at a rate of $1 billion dollars per year through 2018.

What does this mean for you as a retailer? Many rely on strong October, November and December sales to carry them through the lull of the New Year. Minimize the impact e-commerce sales can have on your brick and mortar business profits by appealing to the nostalgia of traditional holiday shopping: develop a solid sales plan, secure proper seasonal inventory with a warehouse distribution partner like Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc., showcase an attractive and inviting storefront and create custom in-store promotions.

“Consumers are more complex, and marketers have more opportunities to reach them than ever before. Truly connecting with consumers requires interaction and omnipresence, emphasizing a complete experience that extends beyond channels, beyond traditional methods, and beyond the holiday season,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group, Inc., a company that provides reliable market information and advisory services across a variety of industries.

Keystone Automotive Operations Inc., the leading and largest wholesale distributor of automotive aftermarket equipment in North America, teamed up with a few of its valued customers to offer retailers seven suggestions for converting increased holiday foot traffic into profitable sales.

1) The Early Bird Gets the Worm: The mad holiday rush is starting earlier and earlier each year, placing increased pressure on retailers to wrap up inventory analysis, stocking orders, sales planning and store presentation well before the season. “We start talking about the holidays in early September and put together our advertising flyer by early October. We look at previous year sales, as well as new items and widgets in every price range, including gifts under $25 and $50. Then we adjust store inventory based on that information,” said Rudy Forlenza, industry veteran of 39 years and General Manager of 18 A&A Auto stores located in northeastern, Pennsylvania. Ginger R. Glover, owner of Truckers Toy Store LLC, has three locations in North Carolina and each store serves a unique demographic. Their inventory analysis also is completed early fall and strives to extend consumer reach across the stores with the least amount of capital output in order to maximize profit potential. “We sell a lot of toolboxes, tubular products and items under $50-$60, such as hitch plugs, license tags, leather cleaners, lights and various stocking stuffer gifts for the entire family. We spread the product out across the three locations to serve the various demographics,” said Glover.

2) First and Last Impressions Count: Let’s face it, the holidays are stressful. Help make it an enjoyable retail experience by creating an engaging first impression. Greet consumers with a clean, organized and presentable storefront that captures interest, as well as showcases an appropriate mix of holiday décor and seasonal products. Entice them to step inside and spend! “The store displays, such as end caps, display tables, gift guides and holiday flyers, should be placed in high-traffic areas,” said Forlenza of A&A Auto.

Likewise, the checkout counter should feature stocking-stuffer gifts, offering consumers an array of neatly displayed, irresistible impulse buys including, but not limited to, in-store and brand name gift cards, widgets and gadgets. Steve Schmidt, General Manager of Clear Star Media Group/Finishline in Maple Shade, New Jersey, says their store puts up a small Charlie Brown tree by the register every year. “The customers love it! We add a light strip to the tree and hang gift cards. [Voilà!] An instant impulse buy sensation.” Be smart, be creative and be unique.

3) Appeal to the Senses: An effective use of color, lighting, music, product segmentation, display and demonstration, directional signage and aisle presentation influence consumer perspective and are effective tools in converting window shopping to actual sales. According to The NPD Group, Inc., the appearance chemicals category is up five percent this year. Sub-categories such as scratch removers, detailers, carpet/fabric care and protectants are up 18%, 15%, 13% and 5% respectively. Set up a small demonstration area where consumers can test the products and see the results for themselves. Air fresheners ranked at the top of dollar volume growth, up 12 percent year over year. Hang the newest scent by the register to capture consumer attention and encourage an easy add-on sale. The lighting market continues to impress consumers with groundbreaking designs, features and benefits. Renowned innovators like Rigid Industries and Vision-X are at the forefront of consumer demand, offering premium lighting solutions for cruising the highway or trailblazing the off road. Place a couple of displays in a high-traffic area and encourage customers to experience the variety of lighting solutions.

4) The Right Product SELLS: Focus on the appropriate combination of new and top selling products/applications, seasonal favorites, impulse buys and clearance or discounted items. “Spend the time to dress the store and showcase the right products – you will see an increase in sales,” said Rob Murphy, General Manager of Installations Unlimited in North Syracuse, New York. “If consumers feel they’re getting the right bargain and they’re buying at the right time of year, you’ll see success.” Partnering with the right wholesale distributor makes all the difference. “We’re a small operation and keep very little in stock. A partner like Keystone allows us to get whatever we need the next day,” said Pascucci, General Manager of The Enthusiast in Johnston, Rhode Island.

 - Electronics, i.e., back-up cameras, head units, remote cars, etc.
 - Remote Starters
 - LED Lighting
 - Toolboxes
 - Floor Mats
 - Mud Flaps
 - Specialty Market Items, i.e., Jeep® tops and off road accessories
 - Suspension Products
 - Towing Products
 - Car Care Kits
 - Bolt® Locks
 - Tailgate Assists
 - Tonneau Covers
 - Tubular Products
 - Bedliners
 - Tuners

5) Trained Employees: Store managerseCommerce Industry Spend 2009 to 2015 Schmidt and Pascucci stress the importance of market trend and product knowledge as a key to a business’ success year round. “POP materials and trained employees with extensive product knowledge will close the sale. If someone walks in and is on the fence and you understand the product, [chances are] you’ll sell it,” said Schmidt of Clear Star Media/Finishline. Kristine Pascucci of The Enthusiast agrees. “It’s important to give the customer confidence [during the purchasing process]. Always know what you sell. Educate yourself so when you’re speaking to any customer, you’re informed and, therefore, they’re informed. Trained, well-educated employees translate into happy future repeat customers.” A great holiday experience will have that consumer coming back for more throughout the year.

6) Utilize Proven Tools to Achieve Success: Keystone offers its customers a variety of unique marketing programs to help retailers increase their business exposure, grow sales and maximize profit potential. “Keystone is an important part of our everyday sales, especially eKeystone, their B-to-B portal, and the benefit of having next day delivery services,” said Justin Matney, owner of RPM Off Road, located in Bristol, Tennessee. “We have been extremely fortunate to deal with their friendly and knowledgeable staff. This comes in particularly handy when training a new member of our sales force.”

Captivate consumer attention and drive sales with Keystone’s exclusive Holiday Program, a successful business-building tool developed to help retailers better market themselves and appropriate industry products during the holiday season. Keystone customers can choose from one of four available packages, which are comprised of gift guides and flyers, banners, posters, gift certificates, POP materials and customized imprints. “We always participate in the [Keystone] Holiday Program. The gift guide is a great tool for us and our customers. A lot of wives come in looking to buy gifts for their husbands. The Holiday Program offers a wish list on the back so consumers can make a list of top items, do their shopping a lot easier and then reference that same list throughout the year for birthdays, Father’s Day, etc.” said Pascucci of The Enthusiast.

Make good use of eKeystone, it is the automotive aftermarket’s best business-to-business tool, offering users the most comprehensive catalog system across the industry, one-of-a-kind SmartSearch technology, dedicated e-Commerce customer care and 24/7 access.

 - Experience fast and easy online ordering via year, make, model lookup or SmartSearch Technology
 - View real-time multi-warehouse inventory, acquisition cost and suggested retail price
 - Learn about new lines, new products and add-on selling opportunities
 - Take advantage of marketing support, such as jobber and consumer rebates, promotions and AdSlicks

7) Be Creative: Retailers should use a variety of techniques to achieve success during the holiday season. The retailers mentioned below use a combination of marketing materials, advertising contracts, in-store promotions, manufacturer rebates, counterman spiffs and holiday/product décor to ring the register. Here's some of their comments.

“Our showroom is constantly being changed to offer our customers something different every time they enter our store. Every year we hang Christmas cards from our dealers, warehouses and manufactures.”

Justin Matney, RPM Off Road located in Bristol, Tennessee

“This year we’re using various media outlets to help us communicate our ‘12 Days of Christmas’ special. Each day there’s a different giveaway and a qualifying purchase allows you to pick an additional gift from under the tree. At the end of the season, a portion of the proceeds will go to the local Boys and Girls Club. We also make a big Christmas tree out of toolboxes inside the stores.”

Ginger R. Glover, Truckers Toy Store LLC located in North Carolina

“We leave Keystone Holiday Program materials in the vehicles we’re working on so that we can reach out to our customers without overwhelming them. Each year, we have a different theme in the store with banners, posters, etc. We do radio ads and a ‘Not So Silent Night’ promotion, which we actively push through social media. We also feature a counterman spiff attached to the remote starter program.”

Rob Murphy, Installations Unlimited located in North Syracuse, New York

“We’ve taken the Keystone Holiday Program flyers and inserted them into the community newspaper for additional exposure. We set up Christmas trees and place that year’s hottest items underneath.”

Joe McBride, FX Automotive located in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

“I make custom, hand-painted Jeep® and truck ornaments for the Christmas tree.”

Kristine Pascucci, The Enthusiast located in Johnston, Rhode Island.

“Sometimes we offer [product] package programs that help customers earn gift cards, which can be used to purchase additional items in the store.”

Steve Schmidt, Clear Star Media Group/Finishline located in Maple Shade, New Jersey

As we enter the upcoming winter wonderland, remember to know your customer, educate yourself about current market trends, offer the right product at the right price, invest in reliable, knowledgeable employees, showcase a festive theme throughout your store and enjoy this wonderful time of year.

Recent Articles

LKQ finalized deal to acquire Warn Industries

Chicago, IL (November 1, 2017) - LKQ Corporation (Nasdaq: LKQ) today announced that it has finalized the acquisition of Warn Industries, Inc. (“Warn”) a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of high performance aftermarket equipment and accessories. Warn was previously owned by Dover Corporation (NYSE: DOV). Warn will be a part of LKQ’s Specialty Segment, Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. (‘Keystone”)

“Finding new and better ways to serve the needs of our customers is a priority for Keystone. We are excited about the value and capabilities Warn brings to our customer centric approach to service,” said Bill Rogers, Vice President and General Manager of Keystone. “Their leadership position in the market and premium iconic brand give us the ability to drive our long-term strategy of growing share in our core markets and developing viable points of entry into adjacent spaces that show promise.”

Warn offers a broad product line of premium winches, hoists, locking hubs and bumpers and serve specialty retailers and distributors globally. Warn has a long history and reputation of developing the highest quality most technologically advanced products in the industry. The red W logo is omnipresent where rugged dependable products are required. From mountaintops to worksites and deserts to disaster areas, Warn is the product enthusiasts and professionals depend on.

“The team at Warn is very excited to be part of LKQ / Keystone,” said Eric Banks, Warn Vice President of Operations. “Our approach to customers and market opportunities are very similar. We believe that by serving our customers best we serve the needs of the entire supply chain better. They know our market space and have been leaders in it for many years. Being supported by a company that can bring new and critical resources to us means that our customers and all of our channel partners will benefit,” added Banks.

Warn will be run in an autonomous way within LKQ’s Specialty Products Group and maintain its operational presence in Oregon. “It is fantastic to have a very capable management team and experienced workforce in place there. Their infusion of talent to our organization will contribute significantly to all our working groups,” said Kyle Shiminski, Vice President of Keystone’s Specialty Products Group. “Their passion for their products and customers will help ensure that we continue to provide the highest quality products and service experiences people have come to expect,” he concluded.

“The collective team will be focused on maintaining the highest level of customer focus and driving the growth initiatives the organization has already developed,” said Rogers.

About LKQ Corporation
LKQ Corporation (www.lkqcorp.com) is a leading provider of alternative and specialty parts to repair and accessorize automobiles and other vehicles. LKQ has operations in North America, Europe and Taiwan. LKQ offers its customers a broad range of replacement systems, components, equipment and parts to repair and accessorize automobiles, trucks, and recreational and performance vehicles.

About Keystone Automotive Operations
Keystone is the leading distributor and marketer of aftermarket automotive products and services, uniquely positioned to offer customers and suppliers substantial scale, the most comprehensive inventory selection in the industry, high levels of customer service, and innovative marketing support. Keystone is committed to expanding its offerings to meet the ever-growing needs of its customer base, providing them what they need, when they need it most.

Keystone Automotive Operations Showcases Parts VIA at SEMA

EXETER, PA (October 23, 1017) – Parts Via is a new jobber friendly eCommerce solution developed by Keystone Automotive Operations that connects brands, through a unique network, to retail outlets and consumers. It is a web-based solution which creates a seamless transaction environment built over a supply chain network and infrastructure that can deliver anything from light bulbs and exhaust systems to tow bars and truck bed products to just about anywhere in North America next day.

According to Eric Fairchild, at Keystone. “Parts Via gives consumers the convenience of purchasing authentic branded products online with the choice to have them shipped to one of Keystone’s many qualified network retailers and installers. Parts Via provides consumers with unparalleled access to local services, technical expertise and installation support that traditional online purchases do not provide.”

Parts Via creates a strategic alliance between brands, retail outlets and consumers using Keystone’s technology, inventory, warehouses and fleet to enhance the shopping experience for consumers while growing sales for the Parts Via partner and dealer network. It enables and helps businesses capture sales where and how consumers shop in the fastest growing sales channel, always pulling the local retail outlet into the transaction.

“How we make it work is simple,” says Fairchild. “A consumer purchases an authentic branded product from their favorite branded website. We give them the choice to ship their purchase to their home or pick it up at a local network dealer’s location, gaining access to installation and service.” In either case the local establishment participates.

Keystone’s supplier partner’s website serves as the point of consumer engagement and Parts Via coordinates efforts to secure the sale and channel post-transaction activity (pick up in store and installation) with local merchants (network dealers). Parts Via bridges the customer engagement gap that leaves local brick and mortar retail outlets disconnected in most e-commerce transactions.

On behalf of the supplier partner and the retailer (network dealer), Parts Via develops the eCommerce components, runs transactions, manages distribution and oversees customer support. “This type of coordinated network partnership is unique and made possible only through Parts Via,” says Fairchild. “After a year’s worth of testing with very positive results and a ton of data and testimonials, we look forward to expanding our network with new suppliers and network dealers in the coming months,” he concludes.

Suppliers and retailers, dealers, installers and jobbers interested in learning more about Parts Via can visit www.partsvia.com.

LKQ Corporation to Acquire Aftermarket Business of Warn Industries, Inc.

Chicago, IL (October 23, 2017) - LKQ Corporation (Nasdaq: LKQ) today announced that its Specialty Segment, Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. (‘Keystone”), agreed to acquire the aftermarket business of Warn Industries, Inc., a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of high performance vehicle equipment and accessories. Warn is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dover Corporation (NYSE: DOV).

Established in 1948, Warn’s aftermarket business offers a broad product line of winches, hoists, locking hubs and bumpers, with over 350 employees serving specialty retailers and distributors globally. Holding over 130 patents, Warn has a long history of developing the highest quality, most technologically advanced products in the industry.

“Warn’s leadership position and premium iconic brand offer our Specialty Products Group the ability to drive our long-term strategy of growing our core markets and developing viable points of entry into adjacent markets,” said Bill Rogers, Vice President and General Manager of Keystone. “LKQ and Warn will be committed to continuing delivery of great value to our customers and to growing our combined businesses to higher levels.”

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to customary closing conditions.

About LKQ Corporation

LKQ Corporation (www.lkqcorp.com) is a leading provider of alternative and specialty parts to repair and accessorize automobiles and other vehicles. LKQ has operations in North America, Europe and Taiwan. LKQ offers its customers a broad range of replacement systems, components, equipment and parts to repair and accessorize automobiles, trucks, and recreational and performance vehicles.

Keystone Automotive Operations acquires Topline Systems, Inc.

 

Exeter, PA. Keystone Automotive Operations has announced the acquisition of Topline Systems, Inc., a dealer and retail software development company that specializes in dealership/shop management and point of sales products that include comprehensive sales, service and parts management modules. “Our interest in looking at software as a solution for our customers began when we tried to think of new and improved customer support strategies and ways we could help our customers grow. What are the challenges our customers face that we can help them overcome?” states Keystone Business Leader, Bill Rogers.

“After hundreds of customer visits in the markets we serve we determined that inventory management, procurement, sales processes, and fundamental reporting and analytics were areas that many of our customers struggle with. The options available to them are either complicated and expensive, or too simplistic and ineffective. We felt a robust and easy to use alternative was needed and found Topline’s suite of products a perfect fit,” adds Rogers.

Keystone and Topline have a long history of working together, collaborating on a variety of projects. “We are excited about continuing our work with Keystone in a much more significant way,” comments Topline president, Steve Karafas. “The availability of capital and other resources they bring to the relationship will result in expanded features and benefits for existing users and help our emerging presence supporting customers in new markets as well.”

The foundation of Topline’s software is firmly rooted in the owner-manager-doer mindset. It was developed at a dealership with a retail store and a service/installation shop - for that business, by that owner. The same daily decision making process used to run the business was engineered into the software and has application well beyond the market it was initially intended to serve. This thoughtful - “I’ve actually done this work before” - approach has resulted in a feature-rich software solution that is affordable, easy to install, and easy to use.

“There are hundreds of dealers in North America using the Topline program today and we intend to keep things business as usual for them. They will experience no interruption in services or be required to work any differently than they have in the past. In fact, our intention is to operate Topline independently to maintain the existing securities and confidentiality that all of Topline’s customers and business partners have enjoyed,” commented Rogers. “We are looking forward to expanding on the foundational programming solutions that Topline has developed and applying them to businesses in other markets with similar needs, including the automotive aftermarket where we see a significant opportunity.”

Keystone intends to infuse capital and resources into the company to help it continue developing customer satisfaction solutions in the markets they serve. “For over 50 years, Keystone / NTP-STAG has been committed to partnering with our customers to not only provide them the broadest and deepest inventory selection and world class fulfillment capability, but also helping them continue to grow and succeed by offering end-to-end marketing solutions and innovative e-commerce solutions,” says Rogers. He adds, “The addition of Topline allows us to continue to offer new ways to help our customers grow and succeed by providing value based, high quality, state of the art business solutions, including Dealership Management, Point of Sale, Service, and Parts Management.”

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