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Sidney Isagholian
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Prime Auto Parts and Salvage Inc.

Sidney Isagholian, CEO of Prime Auto Parts and Salvage Inc.

Spotlight on Prime Auto Parts and Salvage Inc.

Read enough news stories about retail you and you see the same two themes reinforced over and over: eCommerce is growing while offline retail is in decline. Brick and mortar retailers wrestle daily with the pressure to introduce eCommerce, however such a transition is no simple matter.  Everything from inventory management to customer service becomes more complex. Recently I interviewed Sidney Isagholian, CEO of Prime Auto Parts and Salvage Inc. and he explained how going online transformed his business and his understanding of the automotive parts market.

Sidney starts by sharing the origin of his business, "I have been in the automotive parts market for over 34 years.  My brothers and I founded Prime Auto Parts and Salvage Inc. in 1992.  Our company offers an extensive inventory of new and quality used automotive parts. We source recycled parts from total loss cars supplied by insurance companies. We serve thousands of customers all over the world and we guarantee satisfaction on every item we sell.”

Sidney describes how he introduced eCommerce to his operation, “The online component is only about five years old. Our first 30 days on eBay was discouraging.  When I saw that we had only sold $257 I had second thoughts about whether eBay was the right sales channel for our products. I had no idea at that time how rapidly our sales would grow.  Three months later, our two eBay stores would be generating $60,000.”

Sidney's team adapted quickly to a brand new set of challenges related to online retail: "Those first few months of selling on eBay were an eye-opener for us. Pricing was probably the most challenging part of our listing process early on. We could tell some items were underpriced by how quickly they sold. We suspected other items were too expensive, however we were reluctant to re-price without some sort of benchmark for market value."

It was around that time that Sidney went looking for pricing tools for eBay and he discovered Terapeak.  Product research from Terapeak quickly solved the problem of price optimization.

My experience with Terapeak has been entirely positive. It is very important to me to know my market. Terapeak offers better tools to analyze sales for automotive parts than anything else available to online sellers.

Even with decades of experience, the differences between online and offline sales can surprise a seasoned retailer. Sidney volunteers an example, "I remember being surprised by a surge in demand for suspension parts (cross-members, lateral arms, bushings). These items rarely sold before and all of a sudden we started shipping everything we had on hand back east. At first the sales activity made no sense, then we started considering factors like weather.  There had been heavy snowfall in other parts of the United States. Salt on the road causes rust and suspension deterioration, resulting in greater demand for replacement parts.  We never noticed this connection until we started serving customers outside of California."

Sidney continues, "I used to think instrument clusters weren't worth carrying at all. There was no local market for those parts. Introducing demand from the rest of the country has changed how I think about our inventory. Now I know to consider international shoppers and even differences between sales channels when selecting inventory. For example, we carry more new OEM and aftermarket parts than before.

Sidney explains another important role Terapeak plays in his operation, "Just because another seller has some overlap with our inventory doesn't mean we see them as a significant competitor. We carefully review research on our competitors before adjusting our pricing strategy. Using Terapeak, we can check the number of items a seller has available, compare pricing against success rate, and determine how committed each seller is to long term sales activity in automotive parts categories. Terapeak helps us define our competitive landscape, avoid saturated parts of the market and focus on serious competitors."

Sidney reflects on his progress in the eCommerce space, "These are very tough times for brick and mortar retailers. While some of my peers are struggling to stay in business, we are discovering new ways to grow and new audiences for our products. We went from having no online presence whatsoever to becoming an advocate for eCommerce to other business owners. I am very pleased with our stores on eBay and look forward to expanding into sales channels such as Amazon, Rakuten and Sears in the near future. Online retail has reinvigorated our business."

Visit the PrimeAutoPart store on eBay and at www.myprimeparts.com

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