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New IT systems help Arch Auto Parts be more flexible, responsive

Friday, September 18, 2015 - 06:00
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When the manager of Arch Auto Parts' Atlantic Avenue location in Brooklyn, N.Y., discovered smoke pouring into the basement from a fire in a nearby building in July, the fire department quickly had the facility evacuated and shut off the power. But that didn't stop the store from doing business.

Thanks to a new voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) phone system and a new IT infrastructure, all calls were forwarded to another one of Arch's 10 locations. Arch was able to continue to fill orders remotely.

The IT upgrade was part of a company-wide rebranding effort. While Arch Auto Parts is well-known with repairers in the New York area, the company didn’t' have as much visibility with retail consumers as big box competitors like AutoZone. Arch remodeled its stores to be more consumer-friendly, and also deployed the new phone system, a new point of sale (POS) solution, new IT network infrastructure, and a GPS-enabled dispatch and delivery system.

"We've been in business 30 years, and we really wanted to let retail shoppers know more about us," says vice president of marketing Lucy Henner. "We wanted shoppers to know that we were in the neighborhood, and that we're open and responsive to retail customers as well as shops. That needed to be obvious from outside the stores as well as inside."

More flexible phone, POS systems

Arch Auto Parts is a member of the Automotive Parts Service Group, and in addition to its 10 stores also operates four warehouses. Arch stocks some 50,000 parts, and is able to fill orders from inventory 95 percent of the time for customers in the Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau/Long Island area.

Arch has been using the Epicor Ultimate suite for several years, but updated a number of other systems over the past year. The bulk of the IT changes were to customer-facing systems.

Arch used to have individual phone servers with copper lines at each location, but president and CFO Tom Henner says the company wanted to be able to leverage the phone system across all locations. They invested in an Allworx VoIP solution hosted by Windstream over a multiprotocol label-switching (MPLS) network.

"That lets us move customer calls from one location to another," Henner says. "If one store is closed we can forward calls to another location, and we can do things with call monitoring that we couldn't do before."

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