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Technology opens the road ahead for 1A Auto

A1 Auto manager and employee in discussion at parts warehouse.

A century after the invention of the automobile, the replacement parts business seemed stuck in a rut. Car owners who needed repairs had to somehow get the vehicle to a dealer or a shop, buy parts and pay a mechanic (on his schedule, by the hour). Do-it-yourselfers faced the same hassle, minus the mechanic.

Enter 1A Auto, a second-generation family business in Westford, Mass. In 1999, the company saw a huge gap in the market for high-quality replacement auto parts and superior customer service. 1A Auto began selling parts online at reduced cost. And the aftermarket parts business would never be the same.

"We stand out for being a nontraditional provider in a very traditional market," says Scott Young, director of fulfillment logistics for 1A Auto. "Our differentiators are the online experience and superior customer service."

Delivering speed and reliability

1A Auto says UPS has been essential to achieving aggressive year-over-year growth since 1999.

"UPS provides great value with consistency in delivery time, accuracy and efficiency," Young says. "Our days-in-transit average to customers dropped consistently with UPS, and our delivery speed sets us apart."

The turbocharger at 1A Auto is innovation. The company offers more than 4,000 online car repair videos that coach the technically savvy or the competent do-it-yourselfer. 1A Auto also launches hundreds of new online products each week, assuring the car fanatic in online video tutorials that the right replacement parts will arrive on time.

"We believe that if you teach somebody how to do something, you get that person's business," says Young. "The right part to the right place at the right time will keep that business and grow it."

Trusted operations solutions adviser

Young says UPS has become a trusted operations solutions adviser – not simply a reliable transportation provider – for the 1A Auto team.

UPS introduced ConnectShip® technology, for example, to speed warehouse operations. 1A Auto leveraged UPS expertise to help design the main distribution center in Olathe, Kan., and even asked UPS to site the warehouse near the nation's geographic center. 1A Auto also requested UPS support with distribution analysis, engineering and packaging consulting.

Customized warehouse and shipping processes reduced 1A Auto's average delivery time from five days to two days. And days matter to a DIY customer who needs a part Friday to repair a car over the weekend.

"We used to experience a bottleneck in processing orders that would ripple throughout the warehouse," says Young. "People had to stop what they were doing and wait for orders to clear."

With UPS technology, the bottleneck disappeared. In fact, the efficiencies gained during the shipping process have enabled 1A Auto to leverage existing resources to address other areas in the warehouse such as loading trucks or performing quality control audits on outbound orders. The improvements contribute to 1A Auto's ongoing efforts to create a perfect customer experience and boost 1A Auto's bottom line.

"It makes a difference," Young says. "If we shave a few seconds off shipping every package, and we ship a million packages a year, that's real savings."

Growth means mutual success

1A Auto wants its eyes on the road ahead.

"With UPS, we never worry about the shipping," says Young. "We know that part will be done right. We prefer to put our energy into identifying the right products to sell, then selling them. We want to concentrate on growing the business and giving our customers what they need."

UPS Solutions Manager Jason Harley says 1A Auto and UPS remain laser-focused on the customer experience. "Both parties," he says, "continuously evaluate how to provide 1A Auto a competitive advantage by leveraging the UPS portfolio."

1A Auto's success remains a priority, says UPS Director of Enterprise Account Sales Atul Puranik. "We'll stay focused on helping 1A Auto transform the replacement parts business."

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