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Autozone.com opens its doors to auto repair marketplace Openbay

June 24, 2015 03:38 PM
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Openbay, an online marketplace for auto repair, and AutoZone Inc. will team up in a service that enables Boston-area consumers to comparison shop and book automotive repair and maintenance services with a network of local professionals directly from AutoZone.com, the companies announced today.

The Openbay.com database, which launched in October 2013, lets consumers enter specific automotive service needs or describe problems with their vehicle. Local automotive professionals respond with binding offers for service. Consumers select from multiple competitive offers that include pricing, location, customer ratings and reviews.

AutoZone, a national auto parts and accessories retailer, says the relationship with Openbay will save customers the time, money and hassle of finding a trustworthy mechanic when their vehicles require service. Starting this month, consumers in the Boston region can use the service by visiting Autozone.com.

For its part, Openbay gets a 10% fee per transaction when a consumer books service with an affiliated repair shop, says Rob Infantino, founder and CEO of Openbay. The consumer provides the number of a credit card that will be used to pay for the services then Openbay validates the card to ensure it’s legitimate and to manage the payment process. The consumer receives a code to pass along to the repair shop.

When the repair service is complete, the consumer pays the bill, which the repair shop sends through Openbay.com. The marketplace takes its 10% fee and then remits the difference to the shop. “Openbay is a two-sided marketplace: on one side is consumers, on the other side is businesses that repair cars,” Infantino says. “Our goal is to match consumers with the providers of the needed services.”

The arrangement with AutoZone also will reduce Openbay’s customer acquisition costs because it can potentially provide both repair businesses and customers, Infantino says.

Openbay has more than 22,000 service providers on its platform, Infantino says. He declined to disclose the number of customers or any financials, but says Openbay is seeing high growth week over week, not month over month. That growth is aided by word of mouth recommendations by customers and a reward program that pays a customer $10 for a referral.

“AutoZone chose to partner with Openbay because it’s at the forefront of innovation in the automotive repair business,” says Al Saltiel, AutoZone’s senior vice president of marketing, customer satisfaction. AutoZone’s list of “preferred” Boston-area commercial automotive repair businesses will be added to Openbay’s network of service providers that can respond to users’ requests for vehicle repair. The preferred designation is based on the volume of parts purchased by the shops, according to Autozone.com.

AutoZone does not derive revenue from automotive repair or installation.

This year, Openbay launched OpenbayConnect, a car repair service that remotely determines the cause and cost of automotive repairs. OpenbayConnect wirelessly gathers and analyzes a vehicle’s diagnostic data through a cellular-based diagnostic device the company provides that plugs into a vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) system port under the dashboard. Once a diagnosis is made, the data is fed to participating local repair shops that respond with service offers.

Openbay, based in Cambridge, Mass., is privately held. Investors include Google Ventures, Boston Seed Capital, Stage 1 Ventures and individual investors.

AutoZone, No. 107 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, has 5,042 stores in 49 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in the U.S. It also has 411 stores in Mexico and five stores in Brazil and 18 Interamerican Motor Corp. branches for a total of 5,476 stores. In September  AutoZone acquired Interamerican Motor Corp., a distributor of original equipment replacement parts for European and Asian vehicles in the U.S., for an undisclosed amount.

For the third quarter of fiscal 2015 ended May 9, AutoZone reported:

  • Web sales of $88.55 million, up 6.5% from $83.13 million in the third quarter of 2014. E-commerce revenue includes all sales from AutoZone.com, AllData.com, which sells diagnostic and related repair work software, and AutoAnything.com, an online auto parts retailer acquired in 2013.
  • Total sales of $2.493 billion, up 6.5% from $2.341 billion
  • Domestic same-store sales increased 2.3%.
  • Net income of $309.1 million, up 8.4% from $285.2 million in the same quarter last year.

E-commerce accounted for 3.6% of total sales for both the recent quarter and Q3 of fiscal 2014.

 

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