The bricks with the clicks

General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Bell & Howell have created an online parts and service portal.

General Motors, Ford Motor Company, DaimlerChrysler and Bell & Howell Create Online Parts and Service Portal

Ford Motor Company’s Automotive Consumer Services Group, the Mopar Parts Division of DaimlerChrysler Corporation, General Motors Service Parts Operations and Bell & Howell have combined efforts to form a business-to-business integrated original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts and service portal.

This new, yet-to-be-named venture will be the OE connection for parts and service, providing dealers and their wholesale customers a secure single source for their parts and service needs. It will facilitate the flow of OEM parts between franchised dealers and their customers, beginning with independent collision shops. Plans are to first launch this portal in the US and Canada, with the vision of going global.

‘This venture creates a common OEM replacement parts and service portal that will automate and integrate the parts and service supply chain among the OE manufacturer, its dealers and each dealer’s wholesale customers — including collision shops, fleets and mechanical repair shops,’ said Chuck Rotuno, formerly senior vice president and general manager, Global Automotive Publishing, at Bell & Howell Publishing Services, and the venture’s newly appointed president and CEO.

‘The goals of this venture are to improve information flows between dealers and their customers; streamline transactions; reduce costs while improving efficiencies and customer satisfaction, and facilitate the sale of genuine OE quality parts in a secure environment,’ continued Rotuno. Expected products and services include business-to-business links between dealers and their customers; integration into existing business management systems; parts locating and transaction capabilities; electronic data validation and conversion, and OEM parts and service information.

The three automakers and Bell & Howell are equity participants in the new venture. Bell & Howell is the lead technology partner.

‘Dozens of dotcoms have popped up, each with the promise of bringing an Internet-based solution to automotive parts retailing,’ said John F. Smith, GM vice president and general manager of GM Service Parts Operations. ‘This venture is different for two reasons. First, it represents the three largest vehicle manufacturers in the US and the leading provider of automotive parts catalogs. These players have resources and their respective existing dealer and customer bases to assure success. Second, we have the bricks to go with the clicks. We have OE parts; up-to-date OE catalog data; OEM service information, and the largest dealer network in the world to service the automotive repair aftermarket. No other players have such extensive assets.’

‘By building upon our existing systems with the reach and real-time power of the Internet, our dealers will be able to provide increased levels of service to their customers,’ said Darrell Davis, senior vice president, DaimlerChrysler Corporation Service and Parts Operations. ‘This new portal will allow parts to flow more efficiently at the dealer level, as well as giving their customers unprecedented accuracy in choosing the right part and having it delivered faster than ever before.’

Mike Jordan, president of Ford’s Automotive Consumer Services Group, said, ‘US.dealers, many of whom have already invested heavily in technology solutions, are being bombarded by a dizzying array of dotcom wonders that promise to revolutionise their parts and service supply flow. Dealers are forced to spend more to keep up with the competition, but even the latest and greatest technology options are not providing the efficiencies and process enhancements they need. At the same time, their best customers are demanding more, better and faster service. Dealers know they’ve got to move, or risk being left behind. This new e-tool will greatly expand their e-potential and provide the OE parts and service connection they seek.’

The initial product offering of this new venture is CollisionLink developed by Bell & Howell. CollisionLink electronically facilitates the parts quoting, ordering, and order validation processes between dealers and collision shops in a secure environment.

‘Due to our integration with existing collision estimating systems, collision shops send their estimate by the Internet to their existing dealer provider of choice — 24/7,’ said Jim Roemer, chief executive officer of Bell & Howell. ‘The estimate is electronically ‘scrubbed’ or validated, resulting in receiving the right part the first time, reducing returned parts, repair delays and other associated costs, decreasing repair cycle time, and getting customers back into their cars more quickly.’

While initial product and service functionality will target dealer-to-collision shop and dealer-to-dealer transactions, this parts and service portal could eventually support all dealer wholesale parts transactions including those to fleet and independent service center customers. This OEM portal will be an Internet site for dealers selling genuine OEM parts to their customers.

Other affiliates and alliances of the three automakers are also planning to participate in this OEM parts and service portal. These include Isuzu, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, Saab, Saturn, Subaru and Volvo.

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