January 10, 2000 12:40 PM PST

Auto parts market pulls companies online

Bricks-and-mortar automotive parts companies Advance Auto Parts and CSK Auto today announced an alliance to create PartsAmerica.com, an online store affiliated with their 2,700 combined retail locations.

Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital--which has funded such Internet companies as Yahoo, eToys and Webvan--is also a major backer in the new company.

The Web site, which will launch in April, is after a share of the estimated $90 billion auto parts and accessories market. Competitors in the online auto parts industry have mushroomed in the last year, with the latest entry coming last month when Autobytel.com, an Internet car-shopping service, unveiled an Internet auto parts store.

"This industry is ripe for our entrance," CSK chief executive Maynard Jenkins said in a statement.

CSK, based in Phoenix, Ariz., operates 1,100 stores, including the Kragen Auto Parts and Checker Auto Parts chains, found mainly in the western United States. Advance Auto Parts, based in Roanoke, Va., owns 1,600 offline stores located in the eastern and midwestern United States. The auto parts dealers said they offer customers a total of $1 billion in inventory.

The companies are banking that PartsAmerica will benefit from having a strong bricks-and-mortar presence behind it. Because there is a CSK or Advance Auto Parts store in every state, PartsAmerica can offer online customers same-day delivery, local in-store pickup and overnight shipping. In addition, customers will be allowed to return Web purchases at any CSK or Advance Auto Parts offline store.

"Great distribution will be the critical factor in determining who the winners are in e-commerce," Jenkins said.


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