November 13, 2007, 12:00 AM

U.S. Auto Parts aligns products in a unified catalog

U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. has deployed a new database enabling the online seller of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories to give shoppers access to all products from any of its e-commerce sites.

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. has deployed a new database enabling the online seller of aftermarket automotive parts to give shoppers access to products from any of its e-commerce sites. The new online catalog unites product information from previously disparate information systems among the company’s multiple web sites, including Partstrain.com, AutoPartsWarehouse.com and USAutoParts.net.

The unified catalog combines parts and accessories in one online catalog with single look-up functionality. The catalog will enable U.S. Auto Parts to implement pricing updates to its sites, more accurately display in-stock items and accelerate the pace of adding new products to the company’s database. U.S. Auto Parts is No. 81 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

The unified parts catalog enables the company to get more products --and soon product recommendations -- in front of shoppers, CEO Shane Evangelist tells Internet Retailer. “From a consumer perspective, this business is about expanding SKUs and offering consumers more products to buy. Under the old platforms it was difficult to move with the speed needed to update and add products,” he says.

The new parts database was built in-house and rolled out in late October. It runs on a LAMP software bundle, the components being a Linux operating system, Apache web server, MySQL database management system and PHP programming language.

The company has added about 60,000 SKUs since the rollout, bringing its total to about 610,000.

The initiative consolidates cataloging applications in place at The Parts Bin, which U.S. Auto Parts acquired in May 2006, and those of an undisclosed number of additional automotive parts web sites the company owns.

“For the consumer it means more products added faster, and unified pricing across sites, versus different pricing depending on the site visited,” Evangelist says. “As we add more parts and SKUs to the database and we do customer matching between products and services, we can recommend other purchases.” The recommendation tools are not in place yet but are coming soon, he adds.

The unified catalog hasn’t produced measurable results yet, but Evangelist expects conversion rates to improve once the new products move into the organic search pipeline. He declined to disclose the company’s investment in the new platform.

 

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