SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 24, 2000)—A no-charge Internet site, www.autovia.net, promises to reduce the time and effort tire dealerships and other auto repair outlets spend locating and ordering replacement car and truck parts.
Sacramento-based Autovia bills itself as the first online service network devoted to giving auto repair outlets simultaneous access to multiple local parts distributors and the ability to shop these parts providers based on price, product availability and estimated delivery time.
Autovia, which initially had offered its services primarily in Northern California, recently widened its operations to include 11 major U.S. cities—Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Minneapolis and Atlanta.
Ultimately, the company wants to be operational in 100 of the largest U.S. markets and then go international, according to a news release.
Founded in 1998 by a team headed by Rod Georgiu, founder and former CEO of auto service information provider Alldata Corp., www.autovia.net is open to all parts buyers free of charge. Autovia derives its compensation from what the company describes as a "small transaction fee" paid by the parts sellers.
"Using the Internet to improve the way automotive parts are bought and sold is a natural fit for the fast-pace automotive industry," said Mr. Georgiu, now Autovia´s CEO.
"Autovia makes it faster and easier for automotive repair shops to obtain the necessary parts to complete a job in a timely and efficient manner. It´s crucial to customer satisfaction. Their businesses depend on it."
According to the company, PC-equipped parts buyers need no special computer software to use the site and can begin shopping online immediately after registering. To shop for a particular part, the user merely calls up the Autovia site and obtains a part number from an electronic parts catalog. He or she then enters that part number and requests a "stock check" from a designated list of preferred local parts distributors. The request is automatically forwarded to each distributor on the list.
Each distributor´s computer system then verifies the purchaser´s password and replies to the request by listing the quantity of the requested part on hand, the cost and estimated time of delivery. This offers the user an opportunity to compare the availability, price and delivery time offered by multiple local distributors without the hassle of making multiple telephone calls to various vendors.
Traditionally, auto repair shops have ordered parts via telephone, contacting one supplier at a time and trying to obtain the best price and availability on each part—a less efficient and, therefore, more costly process for parts buyers and sellers alike.
Some parts distributors, in recent years, have tried to speed things up by installing dedicated computer terminals linking them electronically with customers. While this represented an improvement over the process of shopping for parts by telephone, the company said, buyers still were limited to working with one supplier at a time.
Harnessing the Internet is a "quantum leap forward" in further streamlining the parts buying process, Autovia said. It also simplifies the ordering process, because repair shops can enter all their auto parts orders on a single online purchasing form, regardless of which vendor the buyer selects.
Meanwhile, the company said, participating in the Autovia service network can allow parts distributors to shave as much as 75 percent off the cost of processing parts orders compared with the traditional telephone-based purchasing method.
Distributor stock checking is performed electronically rather than requiring costly employee time spent responding to telephone requests and manually processing customer orders.
Once the buyer has made a selection among the alternatives presented, the order is automatically printed on the selected distributor´s invoice, thereby further reducing that supplier´s operating expense. Automating the ordering process in this way also reduces parts returns due to human error, Autovia said.
Distributors wishing to take part are asked to sign a contract with Autovia, after which the company said it will install the necessary phone connection and equipment, perform such functions as system integration and quality assurance testing and provide user training to distributor employees.