Pep Boys revs up customer service

In 1921, four young neighborhood entrepreneurs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pooled two hundred dollars each to start what has become the largest automotive aftermarket retailer in the United States.

Today, Pep Boys Auto employs more than 22,000 people at its 593 stores in 36 states and Puerto Rico, and reported more than $2.2 billion in sales in 2004. Pep Boys differentiates itself from competitors by being the value alternative to car dealerships, providing exceptional customer service, and the only retailer that serves all four segments of the automotive aftermarket — do-it-yourself, do-it-for-me, buy-for-resale and replacement tires.

To maintain its market leadership, Pep Boys wanted to expand its business and bring its customer service to the next level.

"Pep Boys needed to change its store systems, which were outdated and beginning to break down," said Bob Berckman, senior director of Store Solutions, Pep Boys. "Sometimes, store checkout systems would fail, which was a major disruption to our business."

Based on aging technology, Pep Boys' previous infrastructure was a homegrown, checkout-only POS solution comprising various independent systems that were no longer supported, required time-consuming and costly integration efforts, and couldn't scale to support the company's growth plans. It was difficult for Pep Boys to find the skill sets required to support, maintain and enhance the infrastructure.

The solution couldn't accept debit cards or coupons — items that Pep Boys' competitors did. Customers who wanted to purchase an auto part inside the store, and have their vehicles serviced, had to wait in separate lines at the cash register and the service desk. To process a return, an employee had to search various systems to match a customer's receipt with the sale transaction, reducing worker productivity and efficiency.

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Topics: Connectivity, Customer Service, Employee Training, Point-of-Purchase / POP, POS, Retail - Automotive, Specialty Stores, Store Design & Layout, Supply Chain, Technology

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