An e-commerce software solutions firm for the automotive aftermarket wants to become the tire industry's leading Internet technology provider.
CarParts Technologies Inc. acquired the technology and intellectual property assets of Pittsburgh-based OpenWebs Corp. in April as a means of achieving that goal.
Through the deal, terms of which were undisclosed, CarParts will supply OpenWebs' Intelligent Trading Network software to Michelin North America Inc.'s dealers as part of Michelin's e-commerce strategy.
As part of the purchase, a majority of OpenWebs' 20 employees have joined CarParts and will continue to work in the company's research center in Pittsburgh.
The deal, announced May 13, has been in the works since January, according to CarParts CEO David McCann.
``We were aware of OpenWebs since about a year ago, and we had them on our radar screen as a candidate company for acquisition,'' he said.
``We are excited about the potential these combined companies will now offer our customers,'' Pete Selleck, COO of Michelin Americas Small Tires (MAST), said in a release. ``We recognize the added value of this technology to our distribution channel customers and look forward to working with CarParts Technologies to continue our leadership in this segment.''
The Intelligent Trading Network by OpenWebs is a trading platform that includes point-of-sale, warehouse, wholesale management and an e-commerce engine, Mr. McCann said. This platform allows for trading and moving of parts and tire inventory around the market, creating a trading community of retailers, distributors and manufacturers.
``It is absolutely our intent to be the dominant supplier of point of sale, warehouse and inventory management and an e-commerce trading platform for the Michelin channel,'' Mr. McCann said. ``That is our goal.''
A Michelin spokeswoman said the company is working on the concept of the Intelligent Trading Network at the present time before it offers the software to dealers in its Alliance program.
``There's a great deal of interest at this point, but we really want to make sure that this is the right direction for us to take first,'' she said. All Alliance dealers are potential candidates for inclusion in the network, she added.
The software creates a virtual inventory across the distribution channel, enabling product requests to be fulfilled in minutes and reducing the need to maintain excess inventory. With the Intelligent Trading Network, which OpenWebs has been developing for the past 18 months, CarParts wants to enable Michelin dealers to have the right tire on hand at the right time for their customers, Mr. McCann told Tire Business.
``What we're going to be offering a Michelin dealer is a leading-edge, Microsoft-enabled platform that not only gives the dealer a very powerful point-of-sale, but also a breakthrough piece of technology called the Intelligent Trading Engine that allows him to trade and find inventory over the Internet,'' he said.
The wholesale version of the trading network will be available by early summer and a newer retail version will go to market in August or September, he said.
However, the company doesn't want to limit its products to Michelin, Mr. McCann added. Eventually, it wants to make its trading network and other products available to other distributors, retailers and possibly manufacturers, becoming the market leader in Internet technology in the tire industry and the automotive aftermarket.
CarParts currently offers similar e-commerce technology for Midas, Monro and Meineke dealers, a capability CarParts acquired when it purchased Andersen BDG in 2001.