Tire Centers L.L.C. (TCI) is offering its dealers TIPS and is getting rave reviews for the effort.
The firm added in 2008 its Web-based Tire Inventory Purchasing System, known as TIPS, for short.
Nearly three years in development, TIPS provides information as good as any tire Web site in the country, said Dave Snyder, senior vice president, distribution division.
It includes fitment guides, features and benefits of every tire listed, product literature and product information from manufacturers.
In addition, dealers can order products through TIPS, and the system even has a retail counter sales program for T3 dealers.
Dealers can set up TIPS for themselves, Mr. Snyder said. They can put a markup on tires, add whatever services they want and provide a complete quote at the counter for customers.
They can find the tire the customer is looking for in the warehouse and take it one step further and actually put out a price quote right out of our TIPS system, he said.
Asked whether TCI was planning to introduce an e-commerce portion to the site similar to the TireBuyer.com Web site American Tire Distributors Holdings Inc. (ATD) is launching, Mr. Snyder said no, adding: I think they are going to have a nightmare with this thing, in my opinion.
TireBuyer.com, which ATD plans to launch in April, is a full e-commerce site that allows consumers of tires and wheels to review different tire and wheel options, see how those options might look on their vehicles and then conduct an online transaction that includes the purchase of the products and installation at a participating tire dealer.
Unlike other e-commerce programs, ATD's TireBuyer.com will conduct the transactions on behalf of the dealer, who will receive the entire gross receipts on the sale.
The company said it developed TireBuyer.com as a way of helping its independent tire dealer customers capture a share of growing consumer online tire and wheel purchases.
Mr. Snyder said he disagrees with ATD's approach for one reason. They are a wholesaler who is now taking the communication directly to the consumer.
They are eliminating the local dealer, and I think that's going to be a disaster. I think it's a strategic mistake. I would never do that.
The right process, he said, is when the consumer goes to the Internet looking for tires, our thrust should be to direct that consumer to the closest T3 dealer through a process that they can still learn about tires, if they want to, but I don't want to sell them those tires.
I think it's a mistake for the wholesalers to start trying to sell tires.
Wholesalers like ATD should not be setting the retail price, Mr. Snyder continued.
The local dealer should be setting the price in the marketplace, he said.