October 16, 2002, 12:00 AM

O’Reilly Auto Parts counts on the Internet to automate small suppliers

A customer-demand, supply chain management system is enabling O’Reilly Auto Parts, a Springfield, MO-based chain of more than 950 stores, to increase the amount of inventory it moves on a regular basis.

 

A customer-demand, supply chain management system is enabling O’Reilly Auto Parts, a Springfield, MO-based chain of more than 950 stores, to increase the amount of inventory it moves on a regular basis, Greg Beck, director of purchasing, tells Internet Retailer.

The customer-demand system from Nonstop Solutions Inc. is having “a major impact on increasing inventory turns, buying more efficiently and effectively, and identifying products that need to be returned to vendors,” Beck says.

The system reviews demand history on a nightly basis, making adjustments on what O’Reilly needs to carry in its stores. Before the Nonstop system was installed, Beck says, O’Reilly might not have learned that a store was out of stock of a particular item until a customer asked about it at a cashier’s station. “But by then it may be too late to replace the missing item, because the customer may have gone to another store,” he says.

A missing link in the Nonstop system, however, is the inability for many of O’Reilly’s 400 suppliers to participate because they’re too small to afford a connection to O’Reilly’s private network. But by migrating its demand-chain system to the Internet next year, it will enable nearly all suppliers to benefit from the Nonstop system, Beck says. “By communicating electronically, we’ll go beyond sending purchase orders and invoices to sharing expected demand, so they can make adjustments to their manufacturing,” Beck says.

Nonstop, which is based in San Francisco, says it expects to see more web-based versions of its customer-demand system. “We are getting more demand from retailers to put Nonstop on the web,” a spokeswoman says.

 

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