I think a lot of us shop owners have figured out that we can get parts through Amazon.com like we can anything else. I am lucky enough that my shop, Golden Rule Auto Care, is on a pilot program to test Amazon.com parts ordering through my Shop Management System (Omnique), the way it will be for all of us in the future. Although there are some issues, I see the benefits outweighing what Amazon will eventually fix.
I even was able to spend an hour on the phone with six Amazon.com employees running this pilot. They were sharp, asked the right questions, and understood they need to get this right the first time. Yes, I did ask them for a job at the beginning of the meeting (who wouldn’t want to work for Amazon), and, at the end of the meeting, no offer came, but they said I could visit Seattle whenever I wanted to (that was nice).
Here are the negatives so far:
– Delivery times – It is hard to wait for Prime time delivery (two days max) for a part you know you can get in 30 minutes. Their drone deployments will eventually fix this problem.
– Accountability – Who do we yell at when the part doesn’t come or is wrong? Yes, they do have a return policy, but it just makes us feel better to yell at our parts vendors when they mess up.
– Logistics issues – For some reason, they aren’t displaying the actual part numbers but rather the Amazon part numbers, so there is some cross referencing to do. Another issue easily resolved.
And, here are the positives:
– OE parts for a fraction of the price.
– Hard to find parts are found.
– Aftermarket parts for a fraction of the price.
I know the aftermarket auto repair side is a billion dollar industry, and I am sure parts is right up there with it. Does it scare me that Amazon wants to deliver parts directly to the consumer and sell our service direct? Sure, but don’t the other big box retailers already sell directly to consumers for less, usually squeezing our margins?
Brave new world the future is…
Chris Cloutier

Chris Cloutier

Architect/President at autotext.me

As an auto repair shop owner of Golden Rule Auto Care, Chris Cloutier realized the need for a better way to communicate with his customers as he observed how communication gaps created bottleneck situations and wasted valuable rack time. With 20+ years experience as a software developer including employment stints at Southwest Airlines and Wyndham International, Chris had seen the benefits of the marriage of software and customer service.  With the entrepreneurial passion to create an innovative solution to solve a common industry problem, Chris designed autotext.me, a tool that dually functions as a visual workflow management system and as a means for keeping customers engaged and informed by providing status updates throughout the stages of the vehicle repair process. Click here to read more...

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