December 1, 2021
NAPA Auto Parts knows the value of keeping its eyes on the road. Unless you’re shopping for motor oil or windshield wiper blades at one of the chain’s nearly 6,000 stores, you won’t hear a lot of hype about NAPA or its parent, Genuine Parts Company.
Well, if you’re a fan of motorsports, you may have noticed NAPA’s Number 9 Chevrolet with driver Chase Elliott chasing checkered flags. You might see local news reports about store owners donating to local charities. But for a company that’s a household name among shade-tree mechanics, NAPA keeps an impressively low profile everywhere else.
Founded in Atlanta, Georgia, at the dawn of the automotive era, NAPA became a nationwide go-to source for car parts by staying focused on a distinct community: people with cars they want to fix themselves. That focus is alive and well in the 21st century.
A quick visit to NAPAOnline.com reveals a company hitting on all cylinders digitally: Curbside pickup. Check. Same-day delivery of in-stock parts. Check. Free one-day delivery on more than 160,000 parts. Check. Buying guides walk you through changing the oil, replacing a broken belt, and diagnosing glitches in anti-lock braking systems. The Know How Blog has bumper-to-bumper coverage of automotive topics. NAPA’s iPhone app is rated four out of five stars. As any app developer knows, app-store reviewers are a tough crowd.
It’s safe to say NAPA gets omni-channel right.
Behind the scenes, NAPA is plugged into the latest wave of automotive technology: using data, the cloud, and advanced algorithms to maintain electric vehicles. In November 2021, NAPA was one of four US companies that joined forces with Arrival, a startup planning to manufacture electric-powered buses and vans.
A post on Know How explains a crucial component of Arrival’s project: a service network that will train technicians to fix Arrival’s vehicles. As a key provider of automotive technology with a name trusted across the automotive industry, NAPA is the kind of partner an unproven but innovative newcomer needs.
More evidence of the company’s digital acumen: In the summer of 2021, Genuine Parts hired Naveen Krishna as its executive vice president/chief information and digital officer. Krishna has an extensive background in digital commerce, with stints at retail giants Macy’s and Home Depot.
One NAPA side project enters the burgeoning field of mobile relaxation apps. The link seems tenuous at first glance, given the prevalence of traffic jams and road rage, but there’s something there.
NAPA’s branding agency partners created Auto Ambience, a playlist of automotive sounds — the purr of a well-tuned engine, the hum of tires against pavement — and posted it to Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, and YouTube.
Marc Suszynski, director of marketing programs at NAPA, said the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic made everybody uptight. Auto enthusiasts don’t need the sound of ocean waves to calm their nerves, Suszynski said. Instead, they crave the tranquility of rain on a windshield.
“That’s why we created the Audio Ambiance playlist, to give our customers a bit of calmness in the chaos of our current circumstances,” Suszynski said.
This ethos runs through NAPA’s business and messaging: They’re car people, just like their customers.
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