Consumers pick up in stores 70% of what they buy online from auto parts retailer Pep Boys. And many of Pep Boys’ services require that customers bring their car into a physical shop. Rachel Silva, assistant vice president of marketing at Pep Boys, described how relaunching its mobile site, offering mobile coupons and using text messages is boosting store traffic and sales at the Mobile Marketing Summit in New York City today.

Earlier this year, Pep Boys relaunched its mobile site with better search functionality through a more robust “hamburger menu,” or the three horizontal lines that consumers click on for navigation, Silva said. Since introducing the new mobile site, traffic to the site has increased 10 times year over year, Silva said. And the number of service appointments made on the mobile site increased 114% year over year, she said.

Pep Boys is also using mobile to encourage consumers to come into its stores by offering mobile coupons via both the mobile site and a text message club. Silva said offering mobile coupons was relatively cheap to set up.

The mobile coupon program far exceeded Pep Boys’ initial expectations, Silva said. 79% of consumers who received a mobile coupon via an SMS text message saved it and 9% of those consumers redeemed it.

For consumers viewing coupons on the mobile site, 20% of consumers stored a coupon for later use and 12% of those consumers redeemed those offers in store.


Pep Boys also uses mobile to improve customer service at its service locations. That’s important, Silva said, because customers who bring a car into a Pep Boys shop to be repaired are likely not happy to be there.  “We’re not like Disneyland,” she noted.

Customers waiting for their cars to be repaired are prompted through signs to text the city they are in with the word “survey,” for example “New York City survey,” to receive and take a survey about their service that day. The survey asks a consumer to rate on a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied she was with her survey that day. If she responds with a 4 or 5, Pep Boys will encourage her to write a review on Google or Yelp. If she responds with a 3, Pep boys says “thank you” and encourages her to sign up for the text club for more offers. But if she responds with a 1 or 2, the company informs both the store manager and regional manager that there is an unhappy customer currently in the store and they need to address the customer’s complaints immediately. Since there are usually no more than 10 customers sitting in the waiting area, the manager should be able to easily figure out who the unhappy customer is, Silva said.

“It allows us to help them in a real-time manner,” Silva said.

Since the program launched last summer, 1,200 consumers have texted to take the survey. Of those, 45% responded with a 4 or 5, and most of the remaining consumers responded with a 1 or 2, Silva said. Few respond with a 3, Silva said.

Pep Boys also offers free in-store Wi-Fi, and uses that offer to drive sign-ups for its text message marketing program. When a consumer signs in to get the free Wi-Fi, she is taken to a sign-up page for the Pep Boys SMS text club. It is not mandatory to sign up for the club to get the Wi-Fi, although many consumers think it is, which was the point, Silva said. 30% of consumers who have signed up for the text club do so from the in-store Wi-Fi page, she said.


Pep Boys is also tying in mobile devices to its most traditional form of marketing—direct mail. Pep Boys’ direct mail pieces now encourage consumers to text for a coupon. 46% of consumers who view the coupon offer via text save it for later use in their smartphones, Silva said.

Pep Boys does not have an app and doesn’t not have concreate plans to launch one soon. Since a typical Pep Boys customer shops with the retailer three or four times a year, at most, Pep Boys does not see it as a high priority right now, Silva said.

Pep Boys uses mobile marketing firm Vibes for its mobile promotions. Silva would not disclose how much the retailer invested in these marketing promotions.