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

COVID-19: How we are responding, a message from our President

 

 

To our trusted suppliers and customers:

 

The unprecedented effects of COVID-19 (coronavirus) are having a tremendous impact on our lives and businesses. The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers and vendors is our primary concern and we are continuing to take actions to mitigate the risks across all our facilities based upon guidance provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and other public health authorities and resources. We continue to expect that all employees and drivers remain vigilant in maintaining proper hygiene habits in addition to social distancing. 

 

Our practices have been enhanced to include more frequent, regular cleaning and disinfecting of delivery vehicle surfaces such as interiors and steering wheels, remote controls on lifts, doorknobs and other areas of the vehicles that are frequently touched. We have also modified travel and in-person meeting policies appropriately and expect our employees stay home if they show symptoms or feel sick.

 

While we are actively monitoring the fluid developments of this situation, we also understand the importance of continuing to serve our customers and support the interests of our suppliers. Many of our customers and suppliers are small and medium-sized, independent businesses and as a vital component of the supply chain, we are remaining true to our mission in the attempt to mitigate the impact on these businesses and their communities.  In the furtherance of this objective, we continue to receive and process orders and maintain deliveries except where limited by government restrictions.

 

We understand the economic realities of this unprecedented situation and their potential impact on our industry and believe that in staying the course, we can limit the disruption to our business partners.  We are confident that this challenge will pass, and we will move forward together.

 

We wish you safety and health and thank you for your continued business.

 

Thank you,

Bill Rogers

eKey App Used by Over 1000 Jobbers
The eKey Mobile App launched early 2019. No more were Jobbers tied to a computer terminal. The app gave the flexibility to access eKeystone tools from anywhere they choose. In addition to Year/Make/Model and VIN barcode reader, Jobbers can use the Smart Search tool they are familiar with from the eKey website. It doesn’t stop there, once the parts are orders on the app, Jobbers can track the status of their delivery truck, ensuring that service schedules can be maintained. The app is available for download on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
Keystone Automotive Launches Exclusive Interactive Garage Integration
Keystone Automotive Operations, distributor and marketer of automotive aftermarket products and services, has now exclusively integrated Interactive Garage, a virtual custom vehicle build visualizer, into its dealer transactional portal, eKeystone.com.

This new tool allows Trial and Premium subscribers to the eKeystone.com platform a visual sales tool to demonstrate to their customers exactly how their selected parts and accessories will appear on their vehicles prior to purchase and installation.

“It is important to us that we continue to develop enhancements to the eKeystone user experience for our jobbers while providing them with tools designed to assist the sales process and help them grow their businesses,” says Keystone vice president, category management, Larry Montante. “We believe that high-quality services such as Keystone Interactive Garage add significant value to our eKeystone Premium users with an easy-to-use tool that their customers will appreciate.”

Accessed via eKeystone.com, the Keystone Interactive Garage features 38 base vehicles sorted by year make and model, along with their corresponding color options and at launch, features more than 10,000 individual part variations from nearly 90 participating suppliers. Customized builds can be provided to in-store customers as a printout while the parts themselves can be added to the eKeystone cart with a single click.

“We developed Interactive Garage to be the perfect complimentary sales tool for jobbers, dealerships, and accessory manufacturers to provide the best user experience for the ultimate customer: the end consumer,” states Interactive Garage CEO and founder, Ryan Hagel. “Teaming up with Keystone provides our platform significant access into the marketplace that will aid in the acceleration of aftermarket product sales through visual vehicle personalization for users across the U.S. and Canada.”

This addition to the platform is now available and included with eKeystone Premium subscriptions. A customized version is also offered that delivers jobbers the ability to manage their retail pricing, customize the look and feel of the user interface, and incorporate the tool into their own websites.

“We’re receiving a tremendous response to Keystone Interactive Garage from our jobbers as well as our supplier partners,” added Montante. “With new parts being added daily, we will continue to expand the product offerings and with it, the variety of custom build options.”

2019 SEMA Show attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the Keystone Interactive Garage when they visit the Keystone Booth #21249, while those who will not be attending the show are encouraged to speak to their Keystone representative for more information or visit: http://wwwsc.ekeystone.com/KIG.
Cap-it International partners with Keystone Automotive

EXETER, PA (September 10, 2019) - Today, Andrew Funk, President of Cap-it International, announces a partnership with Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. as a Designated Supplier of Automotive parts and accessories to its 29 Cap-it Genuine Truckware locations across Canada and the United States.

Previously, Cap-it locations were serviced by Western Warehouse, a Wholesale Distributor of light truck accessories based in Western Canada owned by the Funk family.

“Since our beginning in 1977, Cap-it has been focused on providing an exceptional retail experience to our customers with a selection of light truck, adventure, and power sports accessories that is second to none. We believe this partnership will allow us to accelerate our efforts expanding the Cap-it Brand across North America. With Keystone’s exceptional service and inventory, they are the perfect partner to allow us to focus on growth while at the same time ensuring our franchisees and customers receive the best service possible.”

“We are excited to partner with the Cap-it team. Our mission and values match up nicely with theirs. Hank and Andrew have built an impressive business model focused on providing the best possible customer experience.” said Bill Rogers, President of Keystone Automotive Operations, “We have been servicing the Cap-it locations for many years and we are excited about the opportunity to significantly expand the partnership and enable their growth plans.”

Since 1990, Cap-it® Genuine TruckwareTM has established itself as a world-class retailer of quality truck accessories and camping products. Because Life’s an Adventure®, Cap-it’s 29 stores across North America provide customers and their vehicles lifestyle solutions for both work and recreation.

About Keystone Automotive Operations:

Keystone Automotive Operations 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.

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