The Inherent Benefits of Embracing Technology

Sep 1, 2023 | Industry

By Sandy Blalock • ARA Executive Director

One of the most influential tools we use in our businesses today is computers and the vast array of information and resources available to our industry can be found in a couple of keystrokes. We are now dealing with connected customers, savvy shoppers and people who access almost everything in their lives via the internet.

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However, technology has simplified many things in our businesses – helping us manage more efficiently by facilitating business processes and other activities. We can store more information on computers, allowing us to handle the information for most business applications. We can perform multitasking and multiprocessing capabilities of data that help run our businesses more smoothly. Computer technology also helps our customers, whether it’s the collision or mechanical repairers, insurance or do-it-yourselfers. They can now access a broad range of information to make decisions.

Technology helps establish a solid process to list, identify and make certain that the customer gets exactly what they need. It would take a much longer article to list all those assets available to assist us in the inventory processing of the vehicles we acquire, and we know what many of them are. However if you don’t know, that would be a very strong reason to attend our 80th Annual Convention and Expo in Kansas City on October 12-14th.  

There is no going back. We must adapt and learn the advantages of the technology available and stop focusing on the negative side of information overload. Use it to make yourself and your businesses better, more efficient, knowledgeable, and inclusive of all customers.

The influence of the connected customer has had many positive impacts for auto recyclers because customers who prefer to shop online have significantly boosted the profile of our industry on the web and opened market placement on a global scale. There seems to be a dynamic change of online marketplaces and digital storefronts for auto parts that will continue to expand our ability to sell more parts.  

Members of our industry know many of those marketplaces and list inventory on them, but there are many more out there competing in our market that may not be in the best interests of our industry as a sector. It’s important for professional automotive recyclers to have an open communication with your industry partners and other recyclers to help protect your image and that of the professional automotive recycling industry.

A large number of our connected customers are more environmentally conscious, leading to a demand for eco-friendly auto parts and assurances that there is a robust recycling program in place. This is one of the reasons ARA has invested in knowing more about our carbon footprint with our expanded Carbon Study program with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).  

We already know from an earlier study done by our Massachusett’s affiliate with WPI that our industry is one of a very few that can claim carbon negativity based solely on the reuse of automotive parts. This will resonate with many of our customers now and in the future as people become more highly engaged in climate issues. We will share with our members more information as it becomes available later this year. It will certainly be a game changer for our industry to have facts that support our claims that our industry is an important link to help advance a growing marketplace for our products because of their impact on our environment. Truthfully, we have been the “best story never told” but we all need to be sharing why reuse is the purest form and first link of recycling.

Finally, the best and sometimes worse part of the connected customer is the online reviews and customer feedback. Connected customers can easily share their experiences and reviews online, influencing others’ purchasing decisions. This has made customer satisfaction and product quality more crucial for us as professional auto recyclers. Let’s all agree to look at this as a huge opportunity to help us as business owners and employees. It will make you a better operator who strives to assure the highest level of customer service.  

Overall, the connected customer has driven innovation, digitalization, and customer-centric strategies within the auto parts industry, reshaping how products are marketed and sold.  

I’d like to close with this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.”

Reach Sandy Blalock at sandy@a-r-a.org. Share your thoughts pertaining to the advancement of professional automotive recycling. Your letter could be published in an upcoming issue.

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