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

Keystone Automotive Announces 2019 RAM Project: The TerraRAM

Exeter, PA – Keystone Automotive Operations announced during its BIG Show at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX, plans to build a customized 2019 RAM 1500 show vehicle – the TerraRAM.  Modeled to be the Ultimate Overland Adventure Vehicle, the TerraRam will be a fully self-contained, on- and off-road explorer that combines rugged good looks with the latest technology and performance improvement products available in the aftermarket.

 

“We wanted this project to be a collaborative one where we have a chance to showcase the products and brands going into the build along with our customers that will be instrumental in putting the whole thing together,” says Larry Montante, VP of Category Management. Playing off the BIG Show theme, “The Ultimate Road Trip”, TerraRAM will be taken on a year-long odyssey that will feature Keystone customers contributing to the build along the way. Larry adds, “We think it will be a terrific way to build a community around the project and shine a bright light on the suppliers and installers that help make it happen.”

 

Shrouded under a cover on the exhibit hall floor during BIG Show, the TerraRAM drew a lot of attention and questions from attendees and exhibitors. “The show is a great platform to create some excitement for the project. We have a clear vision about the features we want to build into the truck and look forward to flushing out the finer details over the next 30 days as we sift through the proposals we received from suppliers that want to be part of the project,” says Larry. “Suffice it to say, the TerraRAM will embody the spirit of travel wherever the road leads.”

 

Plans for the TerraRAM include featuring the latest in solar and satellite technology to improve off-grid connectivity. Additionally, extensive suspension improvements, exterior and interior upgrades, performance enhancements and a few surprises from Keystone’s RV supplier partners will help make the vehicle a home on the road. The company’s goal is to deliver a comfortable, self-sustained earth traveler that can thrive in the most remote locations and harshest conditions. 

 

The truck will be equipped for boondocking, rock-hopping and interstate travel (but only as a last resort) and have an extensive array of technology and performance products provided by the distributor’s supplier partners. “Through terraRAM we hope to illustrate the value aftermarket products have in helping enthusiasts realize their vision for how they want their vehicles to look and be used,” commented Harneet Kaur, Directory of Marketing at Keystone.

 

According to Kaur, this TerraRAM is more than a typical truck build project. “While our intention is to create a vehicle capable of far reaching journeys, we also intend to follow the journey that makes it capable,” she says.  By documenting the build and following the vehicle across the country as it goes from stock to the TerraRAM, the company hopes the product and installer profiles they produce and promote on social media and other select media outlets, creates awareness and interest for the sponsors’ products and the vehicle itself.

 

Keystone invites the industry and enthusiasts everywhere to take part in the TerraRAM’s journey in 2019 by following the project on Keystone Social Media Channels, TheEngineBlock.com and selected media outlets.  

 

Keystone is the leading distributor and marketer of automotive aftermarket 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.


70 New Suppliers to Exhibit at BIG Show

EXETER, PA – Keystone Automotive Operations’ BIG Show is adding a lot of new features… and exhibitors to its event March 8-9 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas.  In addition to a Warn sponsored keynote by Ken Schmidt, a double-header concert featuring Tim Montana and Karen Waldrup and casino night presented by WeatherGard, the BIG show is attracting new suppliers as exhibitors like never before.

“We have more than 70 suppliers exhibiting this year that weren’t at our 2018 event,” says John Spaulding, Director of Events for Keystone Automotive Operations. “The interest in BIG Show as a way for suppliers to connect with jobbers, dealers, installers and retailers continues to grow. Our show platform is becoming the premier destination for introducing new products, selling to new customers and engaging with the market in ways that most of us can’t in our day-to-day roles. It’s a vital part of our business and we know our customers and suppliers look forward to it every year.”

New items are essential to the aftermarket and its more than just model year changeover that’s driving new product development. Innovative solutions for improving vehicle performance, whether it’s suspension, exhaust, engine, tires and wheels or accessories that enhance the overall functionality, are creating sales opportunities for aftermarket product resellers and installers. Events like BIG Show play a pivotal role in showcasing these opportunities and connecting all the supply chain players in an effort to grow sales for everyone.

“The show experience has been designed to focus on new products,” says Spaulding. “We have a New Products Showcase with more than 180 new items on display. In addition, 36 companies are exhibiting new Point-of-Purchase tools that give our attendees ideas about how to merchandise and sell new products in their stores.” New suppliers will be highlighted on the BIG Show floor map and will be prominently featured throughout the event.

Brand new suppliers to Keystone will be showcased in a special sales promotion at BIG Show. Golden tickets representing extra bonus discounts will be given to every attendee. The tickets can be used for purchases from the 40 exhibitors at the event that are new to Keystone.

“Our sales initiatives and on-the-floor activity are all about helping our customers grow their business,” states Vice President of Sales for Keystone Automotive Operations, Fred Petrivelli. “We know that these new product and new lines can have an incredible impact on their sales and profits and want to make sure they are aware of the opportunities so they can make informed decisions about the best way to serve their customers and their businesses in the future,” he adds.

The Keystone BIG Show is the industry’s largest distributor event in North America drawing thousands of attendees from Canada and the United States. Host to more than 200 exhibiting companies, nearly 100 show vehicles and an agenda packed with special events and networking opportunities, the BIG Show is the place to be March 8-9 in Grapevine, TX.

Keystone is the leading distributor and marketer of automotive aftermarket 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’s Parts Via Program to add Broader e-Commerce Reach and Loyalty Benefits for Its Members

Exeter, PA - In 2017, Keystone Automotive Operations launched Parts Via, an innovative sales network that linked organic site traffic at its brand  partner’s websites to local brick and mortar business via a “Buy Now” button. The profits from the online transactions are shared among the participating supplier partners and dealers while the free, ship-to-store delivery option served as a catalyst for driving consumer traffic to the local business. This new, incremental business stimulated add-on sales, installation revenue and service opportunities, furthering the value of the Parts Via Program to its membership.

The company announced that it is launching Phase II of Parts Via to the automotive aftermarket during its annual BIG Show March 8-9, 2019 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX. This phase includes program enhancements that expand e-commerce reach through a consumer facing website and marketplace store. In addition, Parts Via members will be part of a new customer Parts Via loyalty program.

“Our development roadmap for Parts Via has always included growing the network though enhanced tools and participation,” stated Bill Rogers, President of Keystone. “We recognized early on that a consumer’s path to purchase is one with many forks and the decisions made by them along their journey impact where the final purchase is made. We wanted to build a program that put our partners in the best competitive position to capture the sale regardless of where and when a consumer chooses to buy something, whether it is in a store or online.” He concludes.

Keystone will be previewing its new consumer website www.partsvia.com during the BIG Show as part of the Phase II rollout. The site will complement the “Buy Now” functionality on partner sites and have the added benefit of hosting all the Parts Via partner products in one location. The new site will include a robust parts look-up tool, fresh content and ship-to-store / ship-to-home options. “This will further expand the opportunity for our brick and mortar Network Dealers to participate in an on-line sale that may have otherwise gone around them.”  Also, a new appointment scheduling feature that will allow Parts Via Network Dealers to promote available installation times will be added soon.

Understanding the sheer volume of business generated through online marketplaces that brick and mortar businesses are not participating in, prompted the company to look for a solution that allows their customers to claw back some of that lost revenue. Keystone has launched its Parts Via Amazon Marketplace store. This storefront will sell products under the Parts Via banner and generate similar benefits for the member Network Dealers. The storefront’s current 2,661 SKUS are made up of high-volume MAP brands that help maintain margins throughout the supply chain.

“As we thought about the introduction of Parts Via Phase II, we wanted to leverage some of the unique capabilities we are providing our customers and wrap them into a loyalty program,” said Larry Montante, VP Category Management. “We are introducing the Parts Via Loyalty program in conjunction with the Phase II launch.” The new loyalty program employs a tiered approach to participation that makes getting involved easy and scalable for future growth regardless of a business’s size, focus or markets served. As a Parts Via Network Dealer’s participation and engagement with Keystone grows so to do the benefits of being in the Parts Via Loyalty Program.

The dealer’s benefits will be determined by their status within the Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of the program. Some examples of the benefits include dealer web locator placement and positioning, Parts Via profit share, installation network inclusion, marketing support, BIG Show benefits, preferred product access, exclusive promotional opportunities, unique travel and event incentives, and Keystone services incentives.

“Just like airline mileage programs, we intend to award points and member benefits based on sales and other goals,” says Montante. He adds, “We will be using an online rewards tracking program that will allow our customers to monitor their status in real time and redeem their points on a variety of member rewards.” The availability of these new tools and services will allow Keystone to expand the Parts Via value proposition to its Brand Partners and Network Dealers driving more business back into local businesses.   

Keystone is the leading distributor and marketer of automotive aftermarket 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.

Keystone Now Offers Black Horse Off Road

Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. has added Black Horse Off Road to its stable of truck and off-road product offerings.

Long Island-based Black Horse Off Road has grown from a small wholesaler of accessories to a nationally-recognized brand during the past 15 years, according to Keystone. The company offers grille guards, bull bars, brush guards, safari bars, hard tonneau covers, no-drill side step systems and running boards, bumper guards, lighting solutions, and electric winches.

The company’s latest offering, the Black Horse Armour Bull Bar, is constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel in an aggressive and modern angular design, available for a variety of makes and models.

Black Horse Off Road recently announced a partnership with American Luxury Coach (ALC), which debuted a limited-edition Black Horse Series 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 at SEMA 2018.

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