Most of North America is under Elsa’s magical spell, with an abundance of freezing temperatures and snowflakes that turn roadways into skating rinks. You know what that means, right? It’s the special time of year to love the winter items we hate to buy. And to crack the whip on auto shops and consumers alike, we brought out the big guns: Dave Dolhon, veteran sales associate at Keystone Automotive Operations, Inc. What should shops be stocking and customers purchasing?
Early fall is the best time to consider winter inventory. It begins to get darker quicker, and parts of the US and Canada aren’t absolved of an early snowfall. “If you don’t have the winter items on the shelf when a customer walks in the door, then he likely won’t be back again until there’s another reason, which very well could be the following season,” said Dolhon. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending what side of the argument you’re on, people like buying what they need exactly when they need it and not just when a shop decides to stock it. So, it’s best to be ready and adjust the inventory as needed throughout the winter season.
What Products to Stock?
Rain-X and Prestone are two of the top selling windshield wiper de-icers. They are either sold by the gallon to add into the windshield wiper reservoir or by spray can to apply directly onto your windshield after the ice forms.
“Additives for diesel engines and ethanol fuel treatment are extremely important to have on hand for the season and winter storage since they help keep those engines from gumming up in the extreme cold weather. Take the company Power Service, for example, which not only stops the diesel from jelling, but also can reverse the jelling if it happens with a product like Diesel 911. Also, regular gas additives such as CRC, StarTron, Solder Seal, 303 Products, and Lucas— absolute musts for small engines such as lawn mowers, weed trimmers, motorcycles, vintage show/model cars, and so on—are great to store during the winter months, as they help prevent the ethanol in the gas from crystalizing in the fuel tanks or gas lines while in long-term storage,” said Dolhon.
Put the Products on Display
Countertop and end-cap displays play a very important role and let a retail consumer know what’s popular during that particular season. The end caps nearest the entrance should always have some seasonal products to alert consumers that the shop does carry winter items. The rest of the winter items can be positioned on an end cap toward the back of the store to encourage customers to walk throughout. This strategic move allows jobbers to show off their inventory.
“The counter displays and end caps need to be kept up, cleaned, neatly displayed, and rotated on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. If they are sloppy, dusty, and dirty then a retail consumer either thinks the product isn’t worth buying since no one else seems to be pulling the trigger, or it’s not worth buying since the store owner doesn’t care to maintain it. Appearance is key to shoppers and, therefore, your success,” he said.
Store merchandising is one aspect to get the retail consumer into the retail space and make them feel comfortable once they arrive, but decorating the storefront in tune with the season is another. Play up the senses: colors and lighting are easy additions and lets the retail consumer know that you not only care about what they need, but also their experience while shopping. Below are some must-have items this winter season!
Suggested Brands and Winter Products
- Battery Chargers/Battery Tenders
- Gas Stabilizers
- Dry Gas
- Diesel Additives
- Engine Warmers
- Anti-Freeze: Full strength, 50-50 strength, RV anti-freeze dex-cool antifreeze and anti-freeze for Asian vehicle models such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda and Volvo
- Locker De-Icer
- Winter Windshield Wipers (i.e., Rain-X, Anco, etc.)
- Windshield Spray De-Icer
- Windshield Wiper Fluid Protectants (up to -20 degrees below 0)
- Windshield Wiper De-Icer (by the gallon, protects up to -35 degrees below 0)
- Starting Fluid
- Ice Melt (both calcium chloride and rock salt)
- Snow Chains
- Ice Scrapers Snow Brushes
- Snow Brooms (made with Styrofoam)
- Snow Shovels (extendable and collapsible)
- Windshield Covers
- Portable 12V Heaters
- Car Batteries (i.e., Exide)
- Emergency Kit (i.e., Performance Tool)
- First Aid Kit (i.e., Teraflex)
- Winter Tires and Wheels (Toyo Proxes, Pro Comp MT2 and AT Sport, Pit Bull A/T Hardcore, etc.)
- Heavy Duty Floor and Cargo Mats (i.e., Husky Liners or Weather Tech)
- Portable LED Flashlights (i.e., Rigid Industries)
- Remote Starter (i.e., Directed Electronics, Crimestopper, etc.)
- Plow Lights (i.e., Grote)
- Filters (i.e., Wix)
- Oils (Valvoline, Royal Purple, etc.)
- Car Covers (i.e., Covercraft and Coverking)