Technology Newsmaker Q&A: Shelly Hook

Jan. 1, 2020
Shelly Hook is director of inventory control at Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Auto-Wares, Inc., a full-line aftermarket distributor that services independent jobbers.

Shelly Hook is director of inventory control at Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Auto-Wares, Inc., a full-line aftermarket distributor that services independent jobbers. As part of the Auto Parts Alliance, Auto-Wares utilizes the Alliance's Inventory Optimization Tool (IOT), a proprietary solution that helps balance inventories for distributors, jobbers, and installers.

What is the value of the IOT tool for Auto-Wares?

We were really big on registration data in the beginning, but just knowing the registration information doesn't get you where you need to be. It doesn't matter how many cars are out there that have a particular part on them, you have to know how often that part fails. So vehicle registration data is only half the equation. If you are going to put a whole bunch of part numbers in inventory based on registrations, you'll have hundreds of parts on the shelf that may not start failing for two or three years.

That's what the IOT tool has provided. It combines vehicle registrations and part failure rate data from the multiple data banks that Activant provides. They have this secret formula that looks at how many times a part was looked up, your company's regional sales and they formulate all this together and generate what we call an IOT value, which is the probability of selling a part in that particular store.

How have you customized the solution for your own operations?

Auto-Wares is unique in that we have a fabulous IT department. We send all of our sales information for the warehouse and our company stores, and we have signed up all of our independent customers so we can send that data to the data warehouse. We have all of that information within IOT.

But we take it further. Without giving away all of our secrets, we've added other types of pertinent information. We can run an update for all of our company stores and have the data to review on a giant line like Standard in about 30 minutes.

One thing that was really important that is not built into IOT is lost sales data. We've really pounded it into our stores that they need to key in that lost sales information. We do training internally, and we offer Webex training to our independent customers on lost sales. That was a really important piece that just wasn't part of IOT.

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How effective has the tool been in rebalancing inventory?

We don't have any solid statistics yet, because we really just started. We made a commitment last fall that once we were comfortable with the tool and had everything built, we would hire a team of people to run the software. That's been going on for three months now.

We do track lost sales every month, and the thing that I can see is that lost sales are going down on the lines that we've updated, and sales in our store division overall are up. The trends are going in the right direction.

Shelly Hook is director of inventory control at Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Auto-Wares, Inc., a full-line aftermarket distributor that services independent jobbers. As part of the Auto Parts Alliance, Auto-Wares utilizes the Alliance's Inventory Optimization Tool (IOT), a proprietary solution that helps balance inventories for distributors, jobbers, and installers.

What is the value of the IOT tool for Auto-Wares?

We were really big on registration data in the beginning, but just knowing the registration information doesn't get you where you need to be. It doesn't matter how many cars are out there that have a particular part on them, you have to know how often that part fails. So vehicle registration data is only half the equation. If you are going to put a whole bunch of part numbers in inventory based on registrations, you'll have hundreds of parts on the shelf that may not start failing for two or three years.

That's what the IOT tool has provided. It combines vehicle registrations and part failure rate data from the multiple data banks that Activant provides. They have this secret formula that looks at how many times a part was looked up, your company's regional sales and they formulate all this together and generate what we call an IOT value, which is the probability of selling a part in that particular store.

How have you customized the solution for your own operations?

Auto-Wares is unique in that we have a fabulous IT department. We send all of our sales information for the warehouse and our company stores, and we have signed up all of our independent customers so we can send that data to the data warehouse. We have all of that information within IOT.

But we take it further. Without giving away all of our secrets, we've added other types of pertinent information. We can run an update for all of our company stores and have the data to review on a giant line like Standard in about 30 minutes.

One thing that was really important that is not built into IOT is lost sales data. We've really pounded it into our stores that they need to key in that lost sales information. We do training internally, and we offer Webex training to our independent customers on lost sales. That was a really important piece that just wasn't part of IOT.

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PAGE 2

How effective has the tool been in rebalancing inventory?

We don't have any solid statistics yet, because we really just started. We made a commitment last fall that once we were comfortable with the tool and had everything built, we would hire a team of people to run the software. That's been going on for three months now.

We do track lost sales every month, and the thing that I can see is that lost sales are going down on the lines that we've updated, and sales in our store division overall are up. The trends are going in the right direction.

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