November 9, 2018

Why Are We Still Buying Auto Parts the Hard Way?

When it comes to buying car parts, there’s only one way to do it. You must identify the vehicle, the engine, locate the part, and then find which distributor has it in stock. The process remains largely the same whether you’re online, offline, a consumer, or business. Most often, this is done over the phone or via searches performed across a wide range of distributor websites. On average, it takes thirty to sixty minutes to get the parts ordered. An incorrect order can result in longer wait times and unexpected delays. The challenges presented by this outdated process revolve around the information required to ensure the correct part is ordered.

Purchasers must know:

  • Year, make, model, engine
  • VIN number and location
  • Part name
  • Exactly what you’re looking for

Businesses have attempted to remedy these inefficiencies in a couple different ways, each with varying degrees of success.

  • Instituted standardized keywords for easier searches. A good idea, but problems surface when it comes to disseminating this information to constituents. Complicating matter, however, are that parts often have different names, with the parties searching for them using different systems with no interconnectivity.
  • Launched part identification via diagram. A simple concept: look at a picture, find the part, click on it, get pricing. Unfortunately, many parts look similar to the untrained eye. Ordering an incorrect part and then having to return it for another reduces efficiency from the repair shop all the way to the distributor. Furthermore, what if there is no diagram available for a vehicle? Is the image of sufficient resolution? Can your system support it?

Like most everything else, to find a workable solution we must go the root. Rather than scrolling through seemingly endless vehicle trim levels and engine choices prior to scouring a possibly outdated spreadsheet for the necessary part, why not let the vehicle itself tell us what it needs? Recent advances in blockchain technology has made it possible to not only do just that, but also anticipate vehicle and parts demand in near real-time prior to replacement.

As vehicles become increasingly interconnected, future demand will be generated by the IOT devices living within the vehicles themselves. This transformation from a push to pull system fundamentally alters the supply, distribution, and availability of goods. When vehicle demand is transparent, the automotive supply chain gains the means to drive efficiency and cost savings. These savings can then be passed on to the consumer, resulting in lower cost of vehicle services and repairs.

Similarly, insurance providers will be better able to assess claim data and insurance requirements, all while delivering increasingly personalized services to individuals and fleet owners. Unlike today, distributors can to stock the right products and plan logistics for instant availability at the nearest point of service. Manufacturers gain insight into fast-moving parts and can plan production schedules appropriately. Should there be any premature failures, those products can be instantly recalled, thus minimizing warranty claims.

So, the next time you’re cursing the complexity, why not try asking your car what it needs?

SHIFTMobility Inc.