Prior to taking a summer vacation with Pointwoman and the kids, I decided that the family SUV could use a little maintenance. I wanted to use most of my hard-earned money on vacation, so I decided to explore the world of DIY car maintenance. Not being much of a “DIYer”, I decided to enlist the help of my friend, Glen Tyler for some tips.
We decided to see what deals the big three DIY auto maintenance retailers, Advance Auto, Auto Zone, and O’Reilly, were offering online and via social media. I notice that all of them had specials on parts and fluids on their websites and on Facebook. But as a retail marketer, I also know that it is imperative for these retailers to have a strong promotional presence at their brick-and-mortar locations.
Prior to visiting the stores, I made a check list of things that I was looking for:
- What specials and offers were being communicated online and via Facebook and was that being promoted in-store?
- What messages were in-store that pointed me to other marketing channels?
- How are they trying to connect to the customer emotionally and how did this tie-in to making me loyal to one retailer over the other?
Each of the big three auto parts retailers have similarities. All had a friendly staff to greet me, stores that were organized and clean, competitive pricing, the opportunity for loaner tools should I need them, and a place to dump my old oil once I was done with it. Both Advance Auto and Auto Zone have point-of-purchase marketing and signage that matches their color schemes. Bright, cohesive colors and fonts matched what I saw from their other marketing channels.
Missing at all three, however, were opportunities to tie their marketing channels together via multi-channel marketing. Advance Auto offered a chance to win an “Ultimate Garage” on their web site , and their Facebook page enticed consumers to register to win $250 in free gas. O’Reilly and Advanced Auto also offer opportunities to win free gas on the web. These offers should be prominently displayed in-store to make marketing messages and consumer touch points link together. In my mind, I could vision prominently displayed counter POP signage that would encourage customers to register to win free gas via Facebook on their mobile device.
Another in-store opportunity to engage consumers is to take advantage ofthe oil dump vat, which is always located in a cluttered area at the back of the store.
Why not clean this area up a bit and have signage that points to the environmental benefits of recycling oil? For example, Auto Zone promotes their oil recycling program online. This could easily be promoted in-store as well. Promoting this program via multiple channels helps connect to the customer emotionally, as it makes them feel good about helping the environment. Even more, the retailer could offer reward points and special offers for consumers who dump their oil on a regular basis, which would make them feel good about savingMoney and encourage them to purchase more items.
Competition amongst auto-parts retailers is intense, with all three mentioned vying to be the top retailer in this category. These are also retailers that do well in a sluggish economy. When consumers have less in their wallets, they are more likely to try to do car repairs themselves. Yet, as mentioned here, there really isn’t a lot that sets each apart. Retail marketers, is there an auto parts or other retailer you are loyal too? What in-store and multi-channel strategies do they employ that keep you coming back to them time and again? What could auto-retailers learn from them?