TORONTO Visual SKUs, provider of high-volume product imaging solutions, says it has helped Autopart International reduce returns by 8 percent, saving Autopart more than $1 million annually in processing costs.
Autopart International distributes replacement automotive parts through two channels — a network of distributors as well as more than 190 company-owned outlets. The company says it was finding the process of identifying, receiving, inspecting and re-packaging returned parts to be time-consuming, labor-intensive and costly.
These are common challenges for companies across the automotive aftermarket today, according to Visual SKUs. Many estimates suggest that up to 20 percent of all automotive parts sold in the aftermarket are later returned.
Gail Volpe, director of parts information at Autopart, determined that the best way to minimize part returns was to provide counter professionals at Autopart’s wholesale outlets with access to multiple high-quality images of all the company’s parts.
To create a comprehensive library of product images, Autopart adopted the Visual SKUs full-service product imaging solution. The imaging project took place on-site at Autopart’s Norton, Mass., facility, using mobile photography studios and propriety image-management software.
In late 2008, when Volpe began discussions with Visual SKUs, Autopart had virtually no product images. Within 10 months, Visual SKUs was able to deliver more than 30,000 high-quality part images from more than 300 categories, she says.
After the product images were made available to Autopart’s stores, part returns immediately dropped 8 percent, the two companies say. Annually, this represents savings of $1 million and a 300 percent return on the company’s investment in the imaging project.
Volpe explained: “I firmly believed product images would help our customers purchase the right part, the first time. Within a year of making images available to our stores, the impact on our bottom line has been even better than I expected returns are down considerably. In addition to the cost savings, supplying customers with the right parts the first time leads to increased customer satisfaction and retention levels.”
Pat Weilmeier, vice president of Visual SKUs, added, “The exceptional success of Autopart’s imaging project clearly validates our belief that creating a comprehensive library of high-quality product images is the most reliable way to minimize product returns.”