Lighting inventories are probably as bulb-based as they are going to get for the time being, but that doesn’t mean the parts proliferation is not going to continue to be an issue. In addition, replacement rates are declining due to OEMs use of longer-life bulbs. The advent of gas-discharge lighting–which is becoming more affordable and more prevalent–is bound to accentuate this.
Automotive: In the face of dropping replacement rates, maximizing profit on each sale should be your key consideration.
Consider pushing long-life, heavy duty and added-performance options. There is a variety available, but you need to have them in stock to make the sale and the added margin.
Consider revamping your “import” coverage. These are a relatively new addition to many aftermarket suppliers’ repertoires and may not have made it into your inventory mix yet. Some former dealer-only parts are now available to the aftermarket.
Consider whether to stock bulk packs or card stock (blister packs). If you get walk-in trade, blister packs are the way to go. Twin packs can also add to the total sale.
Consider placing lighting cabinets and inventories at the installer level. Many bulbs are still tough to reach, which explains why DIY levels are still less than half the total. This can also lower your cost of sales by preventing single-bulb deliveries.
Heavy Duty: There are a variety of options in visibility products. Keep conspicuity tapes in stock. Keep your “lighting board” up to date. Have a copy of Transport Canada Trailer Lighting Marking Regulations on hand to assist truckers. Don’t forget to cater to walk-in trade from owner/operators.
Accessory Lighting: While this market was hurt by molded bumper designs, manufacturers have responded with new designs that fit and work. Consider carrying a variety of products with different price points.
Industrial: Many industrial machines use automotive style bulbs. This may be a hidden opportunity for you to build turns and margin.