Adding the Internet to your business a topic at GAAS

Jan. 1, 2020
The Internet is a growing part of many distributors? and jobbers? business plans today. What started as a way to find a specialty or unique part has given way to online ordering, electronic cataloging and price hunting on the Web.

The Internet is a growing part of many distributors’ and jobbers’ business plans today. What started as a way to find a specialty or unique part has given way to online ordering, electronic cataloging and price hunting on the Web.

More and more on the distribution level are stepping into the Internet as a boost to their business, and their shop customers are doing the same. It’s all just one piece of what the future of the aftermarket will look like, says Rick Schwartz, managing partner, Schwartz Advisors, LLC. In fact, “Internet Business Models in Today’s Aftermarket” is one topic discussed at this year’s Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS).

“I think it’s important to demonstrate to the attendees that the Internet is so much more than just delivering direct to the customer,” he offers. “It’s opening up a whole new way for ordering sales.”

Schwartz is moderating a panel versed in utilizing the Internet and helping others in getting into this business model. Panelists are Thomas Aliotti, senior vice president and general manager, Automotive Group, Activant Solutions, Inc.; Scooter Brothers, co-owner and director of R&D, COMP Performance Group; and Tom West, CEO, Whitney Automotive. The panel will discuss the issue May 6, the first day of GAAS.

Internet use in the aftermarket has grown in a couple of ways, according to Schwartz. The first is that longstanding companies, like Whitney and COMP, have taken hold of this new idea and run with it, establishing online sales.

“We’re also seeing a whole new category of products being sold on the Internet, not just small items or access you can pack in a box now,” Schwartz adds. “Just about anything you can put on a car or truck is being sold on the Internet now.”

Also, technicians are using the Internet to find information more often, including on parts. “If you need to figure out what part is appropriate for the vehicle you’re working on, where can I find the best price or where can I find alternative products, it’s all available at your fingertips with an Internet-connected computer,” says Schwartz.

So in light of this importance, Schwartz says he hopes the panel will be able to demonstrate how their companies have leveraged these technologies to increase sales and efficiency.

“Business is so much more competitive today,” he says. “And if there’s a way to reach new customers, whether it’s direct to the consumer or to installers, it just opens up new distribution channels for the distributors.”