Auto Parts Sales
Auto Parts Sales
Table of Contents
Introduction ………………………………………………………………. 3
Model As-is……………………………………………………………….. 3
E-business and Cloud Computing
Introduction …………………………………………………………… 4
Current Model ……………………………………………………………. 5
Recommendation ………………………………………………………… 5
Implications …………………………………………………………….. 6
Security Issues …………………………………………………………. 7
Business Intelligence and Decision Making
Introduction ……………………………………………………………. 8
Data …………………………………………………………………….. 9
Business Decisions ……………………………………………………… 9
Implementation …………………………………………………………. 10
Enterprise Computing: ERP, SCM, CRM
Introduction ……………………………………………………………… 12
Current Structure ………………………………………………………… 13
Implications ……………………………………………………………… 14
Bibliography …………………………………………………………….. 15
The profession of choice in this case study report is auto parts salesmanship. This is an important career, as auto parts salespersons keep many customers abreast of the technological advancements in the fields of the different devices they use. They also ensure that the customers’ devices are working correctly. In this highly technological era, auto parts salesperson hold an extremely important position.
Auto parts salespersons perform a number of roles. First, they analyze consumer products with problems in order to determine what parts are malfunctioning. This is done by listening to the customer’s description of the problem and taking the machine or vehicle on a trial run to get the actual feel of the problem (1). They then determine the suitable replacements and recommend them to the customers (3). They also recommend suitable spare parts for those parts that may potentially be damaged or malfunction. This generally includes most of the parts of most consumer products, such as industrial equipment, motor vehicles and electronics (2). Following the recommendations of the parts, the salesperson then educates the customer on the proper installation, usage and maintenance of the spare parts (3). A good salesperson then makes follow-ups with the customer to confirm that the parts work well.
In addition to this, auto parts salespersons are responsible for keeping inventory (2). They order new parts from the manufacturers and ensure these are correctly and neatly organized in the stockroom (3). They have to keep clear records detailing quantities of parts, their sales and their prices. Prices are determined by checking catalogues for the specific parts. Auto parts salespersons also track down and follow up on the delivery of rare spare parts for older consumer products. They process the sales and contracts for the recommended spare parts (1). Some of these duties can be fulfilled over the company telephone or website; therefore the auto parts salespersons also attend to the phone and/or website to handle such orders (3). The flowchart below, from CRM, demonstrates a summary of the process followed by the auto parts salespersons (2).
E-business and Cloud Computing
Electronic business (e-business) refers to conducting business with the help of information and communication technologies (ICT), including the internet. E-business encompasses conducting business over the internet. This could mean that the internet serves as a key route of communication between the business owners and the customers/ clients. With some businesses, exchange of services and products is done over the internet. Cloud Computing refers to both the applications delivered as services over the Internet and the hardware and systems software in the datacenters that provide those services (Ambrust, p. 50).
Several business models can be adopted when a company decides to take its business online. Currently, auto parts salespersons already contact important parts of their business online. Auto parts salespersons use the business-to-consumer (B2C) model of e-business. In this model, the consumer buys directly from the sales company from their website. The buyer chooses their desired spare part and places an order for it. The company is notified of the order, and then the customer is notified of the date of delivery of their product.
The job has adopted the storefront sub-model of e-business. This sub-model is perhaps the most suitable for auto parts salespersons, since the job generally requires direct interaction between the buyer and the salesperson. The payment is done online, as is the selection of the wanted product. Since the salesperson’s duty is to make recommendations to the customer depending on the latter’s problem with the product, the nature of the job does not allow for other models such as the portal model and the auction model. This method combines online payment, transaction processing, information storage and security, all done via the internet.
Auto parts sales could adopt the business-to-business model of e-business. This is business model that involves an intermediate buyer who buys from the company, and then sells the product to the consumer at a retail price. This model could work for the auto parts salespersons by reducing their workload, while simultaneously increasing their customer base and their profits. The salespersons could make their orders through the manufacturers’ websites, and then sell the products to the customers at a profit.
Adopting the B2B model, however, would not necessarily mean dropping the B2C model. Auto parts salespersons have their business operating in two phases; there is the phase that deals only with the manufacturers and the other phase deals with the customers. Since the customers’ phase is already handled adequately by the B2C model, the B2B model could be adopted for handling transactions between the auto parts salespersons and the manufacturers of the spare parts.
Introducing e-business as a way of conducting auto parts sales should increase sales. Conducting business over the internet has generally been found to be efficient, in that it saves time. Customers find it particularly advantageous since they do not have to go down to the shops for their purchases, a task which can be rather cumbersome. With this cumbersome task eliminated, customers are more likely to do their business more frequently. Being among the first auto parts sales company to make this adjustment would also mean that a company has a competitive advantage over the others (Pires & Aisbett, p. 2). This paves way for customer recommendations and an overall increase in sales and profits.
Adopting the B2B model of e-business will present the customers with a wide variety of products to select from. With the manufacturers on board the website, it is possible for a sales company to have products from many different manufacturers on their site. This may, inevitably, increase the salespersons’ workload, seeing as they will have a greater variety of products to guide their customers in choosing from. However, seeing as the task is online, it will also be easier to perform their searches and consultations from the web, so that the customer is given the best advice regarding their circumstances. This way, traffic to the website increases, bringing with it an increase in the sales and profits of the auto parts sales company.
E-business also greatly decreases paper work for the auto parts salespersons. This frees up much of their time so they can dedicate themselves fully to assisting their clients. It also allows them to attend to more clients in a day than they previously would. To add to this, e-business improves the overall brand image of the company, giving it an advantage over its competitors (Pires & Aisbett, p. 2).
As with any model of business, online or not, the above e-business models may have arising security issues. The first would be internet theft, which is known to be the most common problem associated with businesses over the internet. Many times customers are tricked into providing their personal financial information, such as the numbers, PIN codes and passwords to their credit and debit cards. This has led to several instances of internet theft. It is important for the salespersons to be aware of this risk since they are responsible for all transactions made on their company’s website, regardless of whether they had anything to do with the theft or not. As such, the salespersons should consider making their online customers know that they should not share their information with anyone, not even with the company’s employees.
The internet presents a whole set of technical problems and with it, security risks. Aside from the internet scammers, there are other risks the customers could face online. Websites need maintenance from time to time. Therefore, regardless of how well the website is maintained, there have to be some instances when the website is down. These “down times” present loopholes during which any malicious technology genius can interfere with the site. The internet is also risky, in that malicious ware can be spread fast, some of which could ruin the customers’ computers and phones. Therefore, for a company to be truly successful in e-business, they may have to hire an Information Technology (IT) crew to ensure that the website is maintained and adequately secured.
Business Intelligence and Decision Making
Business Intelligence (BI) refers to all those techniques that are used to synthesize big data into useful information for business functions. BI systems make use of analytical tools in transforming operational data into competitive information that can be utilized by a business’s decision makers (Negash, p.178). The information obtained from BI systems is used to analyze the strengths and weaknesses in the business, the market in which it competes, the company’s competition, and its future.
Business intelligence is an important tool for any business as it steers the business in the right direction (Watson & Wixom, p. 96). For BI to work for auto parts salespersons, several information systems will need to be put to use. First, there has to be a customer relationship management system. This system will, as the name suggests, cater for the relationship between the customers and the business. This includes the interpersonal relationship between the employees and the customers and the customer satisfaction in the services rendered. It also encompasses marketing the business (Watson & Wixom, p. 96).
The profession may also need to include decision support systems, and online data processing techniques (Negash, p.179). Such techniques provide for online decision making. This means that the auto parts salespersons make decisions and respond instantly, which is also a definition of business intelligence. Other systems that are utilized in the whole process of business intelligence include visualization, data mining knowledge management, data warehouse, and geographic information systems (GIS).
Data can be divided into three depending on what information is derived from it and what the synthesized information is used for. Data can be strategic, tactical or operational. Strategic data refers to that which guides the business owners as they set up the goals and the general direction in which the business is intended to go. Strategic data is more focused on the future of the company than it is on the past. Such data includes information on the prospects of the business. This means that strategic data explores the company’s potential for growth, analyzing whether the company can expand, and into what markets this expansion would be.
Tactical data is that which the business uses to map their way to the set goals. It lays down the framework that will serve as the backbone for the business as it heads in the stated direction. Tactical data includes the history of the business. Such history could include previous work hours, previous product and service prices and previous administrative techniques.
Operational data refers to all that which concerns the actual implementation of the goals, using the charted map laid out by the tactical system. It details the tasks and methods to be employed in achieving the business’s goals. Such data includes the specific methods to be utilized in growing the business.
Strategic data, being future oriented, is concerned with mapping the way for the company to make progress. Strategic intelligence could aid the auto parts salespersons to find new methods to expand their market. Expanding the market may include adding new components to the business, depending on where the business hopes to grow towards.
Strategic intelligence will also provide the company with the information it needs, most of the time in terms of statistics, to predict the outcomes of a situation or a business decision. This requires comprehensive statistics, detailing the market trends and the predictions from analysts.
Tactical data helps the salespersons to analyze the company’s history, to determine trends. Analysis of trends reveals vital information regarding a business. This is how a company can differentiate what has always worked perfectly for them from what caused problems in the sales. These trends tell the salespersons what needs to be changed and what should stay as it is, so that the sales and profits are maximized.
Tactical data also analyses the market trends, not just those of the business. Therefore, by analyzing market trends, the salespersons are able to understand their competition and their customers alike. This enables them to be flexible to the changing trends. For example, such data may reveal the differences in sales when the economy goes down, allowing the salespersons to adjust their pricing to accommodate their customers.
Operational intelligence informs the salespersons of the activities of their competition. After analyzing such information, the business owners are able to decide how to counter their business rivals’ actions so that they get the larger percentage of the market. Information regarding the competition could also mean learning what the competition is doing wrong and maximizing on the competitive advantage this allows them.
Such intelligence also reviews the market standing of the company, including their market popularity. Establishing popularity means that the company gets to understand the loopholes in their business structure. It also highlights gaps in the company, such as poor marketing. Pinpointing these issues allows the company to find a way to address them.
Expansion of the market could be achieved by the addition of new concepts to the business. This could mean providing new services and introducing products that were previously not offered by the company. For an auto parts salesperson, this could include regular at home check-ins of the customers’ equipment. The salespersons could also service the equipment of vehicles for the customers frequently. Additional services, especially those the customers did not expect but are necessary, ensures that the customers are impressed by the company. This ensures the customers’ loyalty to the sales company, as well as ensures that the customers help in marketing through recommending the business’s services to other people.
Once the auto parts salespersons are able to predict the outcomes of business decisions, making huge business milestones becomes easier. The salespersons are able to decide whether a risk is worth taking or not. They can also decide whether they can maximize on a predicted success by raising the stakes. For instance, if an investment is expected to bring back a great percentage of profit, the company could choose to increase their capital for the investment. This ensures the constant growth of the company and evasion of fatal business decisions.
A business could, upon analyzing their trends, need to go back in time to a time when their sales were great. This may require in-depth analysis of the methods that were employed then. It could require them to check their books, as well as consult with their longest serving, or former employees. The salespersons could also consult with the customers who have been with them the longest, as these will have first-hand information regarding the changes. Such changes could include employee schedules, management styles, among others. This will enable the company to revisit what worked best for the salespersons, eliminating the dips and maximizing the sales.
Implementing changes that come with changes in the market will require a great degree of flexibility on the part of the salespersons. For instance, during an economic crisis, the salespersons will need to lower the prices of their services and products. This may prove to be a little challenging, especially with the pricing of the products. This is so because the products are first purchased from manufacturers. Reviewing prices will require the salespersons to strike the delicate balance between the manufacturers’ prices and the lower retail prices for the customers.
Establishing the business practices of the competition gives the auto parts salespersons an idea on what methods they should adopt. Knowing what the competition is doing better serves as a wakeup call for the business to tighten its systems. For instance, if the company provides a service at a lower price, the salespersons could lower their prices further, or find a service of their own that they can claim popularity for.
Identifying the loopholes in the company’s running enables the owners to better their systems. For instance, if the problem is identified as one of poor interpersonal relationships with the company’s employees, the owners could foresee their training so their services are improved. Alternatively, the company could hire new employees, or introduce employee incentives to motivate them further. Problems with marketing may require the company to invest in better advertising.
Enterprise Computing: ERP, SCM, CRM
Enterprise computing refers the application of Information Technology (IT) in the running of a business/ an enterprise. This is accomplished through the use of enterprise software, which refers to all the computer programs that are business oriented. Such software allow for the organization of the business, as well as its application and development (Cheng, p.3).
There are many types of enterprise software, categories according to their functions. These include Supply Chain Management, Customer Relationship Management, and Enterprise Resource Planning, among others such as the Content Management System (CMS), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Master Data Management (MDM). Supply Chain Management (SCM), as the name suggest, manages the supply chain. The supply chain is a term that encompasses all the parties that are actively involved, directly or indirectly, in transactions relating to the procurement of the company’s products. Supply Chain Management monitors the supply chain to ensure the maximum effectiveness (Cheng, p. 7).
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is responsible for the customer relationships with the business. This includes managing all customer complaints, as well as the employee service quality. All CRM procedures are geared at earning customer loyalty, retaining customers, and increasing the profits of the business.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) refers to all the business software that is used in the management and organization of the business. ERP synchronizes and organizes all the functions and departments of an organization’s operations into one integrated Information Technology (IT) system.
Auto parts salespersons already make use of a number of enterprise computing techniques. For instance, the business makes use of Supply Chain Management (SCM). This profession is largely one of procurement, in that; the salespersons have to acquire the spare parts from the manufacturers before they are sold to the customers. Furthermore, the salespersons also trace down rare or timed out parts for old machinery, and this will require a great deal of organization. As such, SCM protocols come in handy.
Customer Relationship Management allows the auto parts salespersons to keep track of their relationships with their customers. Maintaining good customer services builds good relationships with the customers. This way, the customers are always satisfied with the services they receive. Building a good rapport with the customers is important as this way, the customers feel more like family than clients, thus earning their loyalty.
Supply Chain Management ensures that the auto parts salespersons always keep track of the shipment of their products. This ensures that nothing gets lost in the supply chain. Keeping track of the supply chain means that the customers’ orders are neither delayed nor lost. This keeps the customers satisfied, so that they stay loyal to the company.
Customer relationship management would also allow the company to get new customers. Monitoring the relationship with the customers means that the salespersons know well what reputation their company has in the market. In business, it is important for a company to have a good reputation that preceded it, such that new customers, on recommendation from regular customers, are eager to try the company for themselves.
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