Technology Newsmaker Q&A: Phil Hutchens

Jan. 1, 2020
Phil Hutchens is director of category management for Standard Motor Products (SMP), an independent manufacturer, distributor and marketer of aftermarket parts.

Phil Hutchens is director of category management for Standard Motor Products (SMP), an independent manufacturer, distributor and marketer of aftermarket parts.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle to technology adoption in the aftermarket?
The most challenging obstacle to technology adoption in the aftermarket is the lack of young, educated talent coming into the aftermarket with the skills required to attack the issue.
Also, in other industries, point-of-sale data is shared within the industry to help all members be more efficient in their inventory and production activities. The aftermarket could greatly benefit from this type of shared data.

Can you describe your level of adoption of industry standards (PIES, ACES)? Do you think the current standards are appropriate and effective? What would it take to achieve more widespread adherence to the standards?
We are nearly finished with our ACES initiative and we have a PIES initiative underway. I believe the current standards are appropriate, but they will only be effective when they are fully adopted by the industry. Widespread adherence will only occur when the standards are required by all trading partners.

Are there sales/revenue opportunities that you think companies in the aftermarket are missing out on that would be enabled by new technology?
Absolutely. Data synchronization alone would produce plenty of sales and revenue opportunities, such as ensuring that the buyer and seller are seeing the same information, which would lead to reduced shipping errors and decreased returns. This, in turn, would reduce expenses.

Has there been any increase in demand from your customers for electronic (e-commerce) connectivity? What types of customers typically want to connect electronically? Which don't?
There has been an increase in requests for e-commerce connectivity coming from all of our customer segments, with the possible exception of our export customers. One way we have addressed these requests is to undertake a major Web site overhaul, where one of the initiatives is a newly updated customer portal.

Will the current economy affect SMP's technology investments? What types of IT projects are receiving top priority?
The current economy has not caused any interruptions in SMP's investment in technology projects. We continue to make major investments in ERP, Web, catalog and category management systems to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

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