Saturday, July 4, 2015

Pep Boys heads online

The Philadelphia car-parts retailer will start shipping its whole inventory to online customers, from its Indiana warehouse, next year

Pep Boys heads online


Pep Boys, the Philadelphia-based car-parts retail chain, will make its whole stock of auto parts available online, direct to your home or neighborhood store, through its new E-serve program, from its Indianapolis warehouse, after Jan. 1, chief executive Michael Odell told a packed house at the Association for Corporate Growth's Philadelphia chapter meeting at Three Logan Circle yesterday. 

"We have to have it," Odell told me. Tires and some other high-demand parts are widely delivered from online warehouses - Pep Boys began selling tires and scheduling tire service through its TreadSmart program, on a test basis, in July - next step will be to apply that across the board, he said. "Or else, look what happened to Borders."

It's a factor in Pep Boys' calculations that online customers typically don't pay state taxes, which makes high-end items, in particular, cheaper when they're bought online.

But Odell doesn't expect big, rapid changes in delivery patterns: He expects online sales will absorb just a couple of percent of inventory, at least at first. "Most people still want to come into a store." 

And, noted general counsel Brian Zuckerman, more cash-strapped states are expected to follow California's model in passing laws that make it tougher for online buyers to avoid sales taxes.

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PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

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