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Program Distribution Groups report 2017 progress, achievements

Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - 08:00
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Perhaps no program distribution group has gone through more recent changes than Advance Auto Parts, which last year replied to the Aftermarket Business World Program Distribution Group report with the Carquest name.

To better serve its customers, the entire professional network at Advance – including Advance Professional, Carquest, Worldpac and Autopart International – was brought under the common leadership of Bob Cushing, executive VP, Professional at Advance. Under his leadership, the professional enterprise has implemented programs to offer shops more access to the parts, services and solutions they need to grow their business.

Advance also took a focused look at its supply chain and in many cases, took new approaches to assortment and product distribution. Additionally, the group has leveraged technology to improve the customer’s parts ordering experience, including the rollout of a unified catalog and new B2B platform. The company also continued to measure and optimize order-to-delivery times, implementing telematics in its fleet management.  

The company said it will deploy cross-banner visibility to give customers access to a broader range of product inventory in one place than they’ve ever had access to before from Advance, Carquest and Worldpac. Advance also plans to grow the number of TECHNET member shops and expand its technical and business training programs offered through Carquest Technical Institute and Worldpac Technical Institute.

The AAM Group said its biggest achievement of 2017 was delivering PACE, a business-to-business (B2B) complete cataloging and order-entry web service. PACE was created at the direction of its membership to address changing customer-experience expectations. The wholesale customers of many of AAM Group’s members were having to catalog product on a brand’s website, then go to the WD’s site to order.

PACE not only eliminates the friction of those multiple steps, but also provides enhanced cataloging with the inclusion of rich media and optimized data. PACE offers WDs reporting services that provide visibility to transaction history, lost sales and sales opportunities via user-interaction tracking.

AAM also grew significantly in 2017 by welcoming three new group members. All located in the Southeast, these additions address an underrepresented geographical region for its programs. AAM also grew in terms of brand engagement, with a nearly 10 percent gain in participating vendors.  

AAM said that one of its main challenges for the next 12 months is technology, which also is an opportunity. “Changes in customer expectations created by marketplaces and sellers like Amazon must be addressed,” said CEO Tim Odom. “Technology is affecting product merchandising, gross profit margins, and logistics.

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