Making an Auto Parts Catalog
Before You Start
If you are going to get into the business of selling auto parts through a catalog, you will have to make it legitimate from the get-go. Decide on a catalog or company name and register yourself as a business with your city and/ or county. Each state and municipality will have their won process for all of this, so visit the appropriate websites, make some calls or go down to city hall yourself to get the proper paperwork. More than likely you will need a business license, a tax ID number (like a social security number for your business), and whatever else might be needed for your specific location.
Your Business Plan
You should never start any kind of business without constructing a thorough and solid business plan. In the case of your auto parts catalog, you will need to decide such things as who your target clientele will be (auto shops, dealers, vintage Mustang owners, etc.), and what sorts of parts you want to sell (your own designs, factory parts, auto accessories, etc.). The idea is to dig deep and get specific. That way, when you feel a little overwhelmed and lost, you can always refer back to your business plan and tackle the next item on your agenda.
When you are conceiving your business and business plan, you might want to consider just tackling one specific niche in the beginning. Do your best to find a need, and then do everything you can to fill it. Don’t be afraid to start small and grow from there.
Unless your business plan calls for you to have a warehouse full of parts and the personnel and supplies to take care of shipping, you will likely be looking at finding suppliers who do drop shipping. Drop shipping can be a great way to run a business and if done correctly, works well for all concerned. Through your catalog marketing, your suppliers get sales they might not have otherwise gotten, and you get a percentage of the sale and don’t have to worry about shipping anything yourself. The best drop shippers will even allow you to have your logo on the shipping label.
If you have your own line of parts and accessories, you may either have to have your own warehouse with supplies on hand, or license with a distributor to handle the products and the shipping for you.
Design and Copywriting
Long story short, if at all possible, hire professionals. If you can’t do this, then gather as many catalogs as you can get your hands on and study what about them seems to work and what doesn’t. At the very least you will need typesetting and layout software such as Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, or one of the free alternatives available for download. Be ready for quite a learning curve if you are going to do this work yourself.
There are a number of binding styles to choose from, but plastic comb binding and spiral coil seem to be rather popular in the auto parts world. Do a bit of research online to find a printer and a machine to do your binding yourself, as this will save you money even in the short run.