The Do It Yourself automotive parts business has been flourishing in the past two years. Driven by people stuck at home during the pandemic lockdowns, the demand for car parts and accessories has never been higher. Parts retail organizations like Autozone and Advanced Auto Parts have based their business model on serving this large DIY community of customers.
Both companies serve the 8-to-12-year-old vehicle repair DIY market where customer relationships are important. Autozone is marginally better than Advanced Auto Parts due to a better distribution across all fifty states and considering the ten percent difference in customer satisfaction rating.
The threat posed by online specialists like Amazon and eBay has forced both companies to up their game to remain relevant. The DIY automotive servicing consumer still prefers to do parts business face to face. These are some of the reasons how and why Advanced Auto Parts and Autozone match up.
What Are DIY Customers Looking For In A Parts Store?
Consumer research conducted amongst the Do-It-Yourself target market has provided the following insights. These customers are looking for stores that are conveniently located and willing to deliver to them. They are also looking for experienced counter personnel that can advise them. A good website that can assist them in finding the correct parts is essential. Parts pricing, discounts, and the ability to have accounts are also very important. Parts return policies must be customer-friendly and not lead to conflict.
The most important aspect highlighted by all customers surveyed was building a relationship with the parts store and its employees. Customers want to get the advice and treatment which the e-commerce sites cannot provide at present.
Which is Bigger, Autozone, Or Advanced Auto Parts?
Autozone is the biggest automotive retailer of auto parts in the United States, with 5914 stores. Texas, California, and Florida have 641, 634, and 381 stores, respectively. Autozone is well represented in all states in the U.S.
Advanced Auto Parts is the fourth biggest auto parts retailer in the United States, with 4270 stores. Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia have the most stores with 511, 280, and 252, respectively. Advanced Auto Parts has more stores in the eastern states. They lack a good footprint in Texas and California.
How The Customers See It
A customer satisfaction survey conducted over a twelve-month period concluded some interesting results in comparing Autozone and Advanced Auto Parts.
Autozone received an 80% customer satisfaction rating. A total of 403 customer reviews were conducted in which Autozone was awarded a four or five-star rating from at least 66% of the respondents. The aggregate average of four stars out of five puts them on top regarding customer satisfaction. Employee helpfulness received a five-star rating from the surveyed customers. Autozone received poor ratings for using unreliable shipping methods for parts ordered online arriving later than expected.
Advanced Auto Parts received a 70% customer satisfaction rating. In the same survey over a twelve-month period, 241 customer reviews were submitted from AAP customers. Only 60% of the respondents awarded AAP with four or five-star ratings. Employees were again singled out as being very helpful. Poor stock holding and poorly run stores were criticized. The AAP website also came in for criticism due to some basic functionality and incorrect parts being shipped. Reviewers also complained about inconsistencies in the honoring of parts warranties.
Who Is The Cheapest?
A survey that used a basket of parts that a DIY car owner is likely to purchase was used to compare Autozone and Advanced Auto Parts. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. The parts basket were comprised of oil, antifreeze, a battery, wiper blades, brake pads and discs, fuel pump, alternator, cylinder head gasket, spark plugs, oxygen sensor, diagnostic code reader, jumper cables, clutch kit, headlight bulbs, air filter, cabin filter, and oil filter.
Other costs and discounts included shipping, loyalty reward discounts, and return costs. The result was a photo finish between the two companies, with the Autozone basket costing $1,376.70 and the Advanced Auto Parts basket costing $1,383.40. The difference of $6.70 or 0.5% is negligible.
My advice would be to do your homework in advance online. Draw up a list of the needed parts and make a comparison between these two stores, but check Amazon and eBay for prices also.
Who Has The Best Parts Return Policy?
Autozone will allow returns up to 90 days after purchase, while Advanced Auto Parts allows returns only up to 45 days after purchase. Advanced Auto Parts also have a list of items that fall outside of their returns policy. The fuel pump and oxygen sensors on our parts basket survey are on the exclusion list of AAP.
Service parts that can be recycled or remanufactured are levied with a core charge. The core charge is levied at the date of purchase, ensuring that the customer will return to buy a new replacement part. The Autozone house brand (Duralast) alternator has a core charge of $62, whereas the Conquest brand alternator from Advanced Auto Parts will only cost $18.
It is well worth asking all the right questions and getting as much advice as possible from the helpful counter staff at both companies. If the used core is not returned to the retail store, the customer will forfeit the core charges.
Having reviewed many blogs, comparative studies, YouTube DIY channels, and business analyses comparing Advanced Auto Parts to Autozone, there is no clear winner. Both companies serve the 8 to 12 year-old vehicle sweet spot in the DIY market, but customer relationships seem to be most important.
The competition from Amazon and eBay is growing rapidly and has put pressure on the over-the-counter parts retail giants to improve in all aspects. Other competitors are also active in gaining market share of this lucrative segment. Autozone and Advance Auto Parts are both doing well in this respect as consumers still prefer doing business with experts that can provide help and are willing to forge a relationship.
Do your research online and include Amazon, eBay, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and Napa Auto Parts. Try to build a relationship with a store located conveniently and negotiate with them. People buy from people!
Check out Amazon, measure their prices against the auto parts store.Amazon Car Parts
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.