Halfords has launched a text-and-reserve service to add to its multichannel proposition.

The service allows customers to work out which are the right spare parts for their cars, then locate stock locally and reserve it in store with three standard rate text messages.

Halfords will market the service through 4 million winter motoring advice leaflets to be distributed
during October.

The retailer worked with systems integrator Salmon on the launch of the service. Salmon also helped Halfords to set up its multichannel reserve-and-collect service, which has been used by 1 million customers since its launch last year.

Halfords finance director Nick Wharton said that the retailer wants to provide maximum convenience for its customers, and felt that a mobile option was particularly suitable for car parts as they are often a distress purchase. He expects the service to bring in incremental sales as well as reinforcing Halfords’ market-leading position.

Wharton said that much time had been spent on making the process to reserve items by text message as simple as possible. This has involved linking to the DVLA database, a product database and store database to gather all the information that is sent to customers.

Customers simply have to text what they want - such as a battery or wiper blades - along with their vehicle registration number to a short code, and Halfords identifies the right part for their car and texts back with the details and the offer to check stock at local stores.

If the customer then texts their postcode, they receive another text with details of the nearest store with stock, information on how far away it is, and the offer to reserve the item for them. Customers then must simply text back “yes” if they want the product reserved.

Wharton added that the SMS service was more suitable than a mobile-optimised website or iPhone application at this stage. “Our research is that a substantial majority of our customers are in the SMS world,” he said.