September 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

Advance Auto Parts advances its e-commerce initiative

Early in the fourth quarter, Advance Auto Parts will launch a new e-commerce site with a buy online/pick up in store program. The retailer also plans to double the size of its e-commerce work force to about 40 employees.

Nearly seven months after dissolving, which Advance Auto Parts Inc. jointly operated with CSK Auto Inc., the automotive parts retailer is gearing up its own e-commerce initiative.

Early in the fourth quarter, Advance Auto Parts, No. 261 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, will launch a new e-commerce site. While key details of the site have yet to be released, the new site will have advanced features and functions, including a buy online/pick up in store program, says an Advance Auto Parts spokeswoman. “We expect to go live with the new web site early in the fourth quarter,” the spokeswoman says.

Advance Auto Parts isn’t saying yet if the company designed and built the new e-commerce site internally or used an outside design firm and third-party platform provider. But the company is building up an e-commerce department with approximately 20 employees with offices in Campbell, CA, near Silicon Valley. The department, which could have as many as 20 more employees over the next year to 18 months, will handle online marketing and merchandising initiatives, the spokeswoman says.

In March, Advance Auto Parts hired Scott Bauhofer as a senior vice president and general manager of e-commerce. Bauhofer oversees development of the company’s e-commerce sites for both consumer and commercial customers with responsibility for creative, content, operations, customer care, web analytics and marketing. Previously Bauhofer was employed as vice president of consumer sales strategy at Symantec Corp., where he was responsible for developing sales strategies for the Norton line of computer security software. “We decided to build a dedicated e-commerce staff near Silicon Valley to take advantage of the talent pool,” the spokeswoman says.

Advance Auto Parts, which also this week named GSI Commerce Inc. executive vice president for partner strategy and marketing Fiona Dias to its board of directors, has been crafting a dedicated e-commerce strategy since spring. Earlier this year Advance Auto Parts and CSK Auto ended their joint-venture e-commerce operation after CSK Auto was acquired by O`Reilly Automotive Inc., an auto parts retailer with 3,387 stores, in July 2008.

O`Reilly, which sells online at, added its own buy online/pick up in store program in April. In March, O`Reilly also launched separate e-commerce sites for its other retail brands, which include Checker Auto, Schuck’s Auto, Kragen Auto and Murray’s Auto Parts.

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