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
- 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
5) Trained Employees: Store managers 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.”
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.