As more dealerships jump on the eCommerce bandwagon, selling parts online is only going to get more competitive. With proper marketing and pricing, dealerships can still stand out and make a profit online. But when it comes to really outshining competitors, sometimes the smallest details can make a difference.
There are a lot of mistakes dealers make when they first start selling auto parts online, and those mistakes are your opportunity to take over.
We’ve already covered some of the more in-depth topics about common pricing mistakes, biggest customer service fails, and new eBay seller blunders. Knowing about those frequent slip-ups can go a long way in helping you outperform other parts websites.
At the same time, optimizing those points of your parts website can take time to set up and test. Pricing, for example, can take a bit of experimentation in order to find the best pricing matrix for maximum profit.
This article is for those quick and easy fixes that would only take you 30-40 minutes to do (if that much!) Take less than an hour out of your day to touch up these points in your process, and it can help nudge your parts store ahead of the others.
Here are six of the easiest steps you can take toward outshining your online parts competitors:
1. Touch up your “About Us” page.
You’d be surprised how many shoppers check out your “About Us” page! If it’s their first time on your website, they’re trying to scope out if you’re a legitimate parts website and if they should trust you with their payment information.
Most dealerships leave generic, default information on their page. It might say something about how your parts website is dedicated to service, fast shipping, etc. But customers are used to hearing these promises, so they don’t mean much (especially when every parts website claims the same.)
So make it personal!
Add some pictures of your parts counter and your actual parts team. Make some introductions. Even if you don’t include a small bio for each member, at least introduce the Parts Manager with a name and years in the parts business.
Is there anything unique about your dealership that you want to share? Some dealerships will mention charities that they work with, or their “adopted” cats that keep the dealership free from rodents.
2. Add contact information to your parts web store.
When it comes to buying auto parts, customers are often worried about fitment. Even with a VIN decoder on your website, shoppers worry about buying the wrong part and having to go through the hassle of returning it.
Anything you can do to improve customer confidence will make a difference! If a customer has questions about their order, then let them talk to the expert: YOU!
The best practice is to list a phone number and email address. Some dealerships will also list their physical address.
The benefits of posting this information:
- Improved customer trust, since contact info helps customers conclude that you're a real, legitimate dealership.
- Improved customer confidence, since shoppers can contact you about fitment or order questions. This means more sales will go through!
- Improved customer loyalty. Many dealerships have told us that they’ve built lasting relationships over the phone with customers, leading to loyal customers and more repeat purchases!
Some Parts Departments worry that they’ll get flooded in emails and phone calls. But that won’t happen! You’ll only get occasional questions about fitment and ordering process.
Other Parts Departments are worried that local customers will be upset to find lower prices online, and hide their dealership identity as a result. Even though this shouldn’t be a major point for concern, you can avoid the problem entirely by creating a new number and email. You don’t have to use the same email and phone number you use at your dealership!
3. Respond to customer inquiries in a timely matter.
You aren’t going to be flooded in questions if you give customers your contact information, but when you do get a question, respond as soon as possible! Slow response time is one of the customer service fails we see from a lot of parts websites.
The best practice here is 1 business day to respond. Answering emails within a few hours is ideal.
Of course, you’re busy at the parts counter! A lot of Parts Managers just don’t have time to check their computer several times a day. To save yourself time, set up some email templates—“canned emails”—so you can reply to frequently asked questions in no time.
Canned emails are just pre-written templates you can copy/paste into your email client. Just personalize any necessary information and then send! You don’t need to type up a brand new email every time.
Here’s your “right now” action for this one: Download this free template kit and customize the canned emails to your dealership (just add your parts website name where appropriate). Then save the document to your computer and add a shortcut to it on your desktop.
4. Create a packaging insert.
An easy way to encourage repeat purchases AND build customer loyalty? Sign us up!
Packaging inserts can be as simple as a sheet of paper thanking a customer for their business (or as fancy as adding a small gift to their shipment!). Whatever you decide to whip up for the insert, just add it to orders during the packaging process, and you’re good to go.
There are a million different ways you can create a packaging insert. Think about your goals when you sit down to type one out. Do you want repeat sales? Do you want to build your social media following?
Here are just a few of the things you can ask for on a packaging insert:
- Include a promo code or coupon so the customer can get a discount on their next purchase.
- Ask the customer to follow you on social media.
- Ask the customer to leave a review/tesimonial on your website or Facebook.
Once you create a packaging insert the first time, just print them in bulk and you’re set.
We’ve put together some packaging insert templates in our Time-Saving Template Kit—completely free for you!
5. Link your dealership website to your parts & accessories website.
We’re amazed at how many dealerships ignore this incredibly easy way to boost parts website traffic.
When established websites link to your parts website, it’s called an “inbound link”—basically a recommendation to Google that your website is trustworthy and reliable, since other websites are referring it. Inbound links can help your website rank higher in Google search results.
Your main dealership website is a powerful, credible source that can help your parts website succeed. Time and customer traffic has helped establish the dealership site as “credible” by Google, so having your dealership link to your parts website creates a strong inbound link.
6. Hire a marketing agency!
Or, if you already have a marketing agency, audit them to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
FREE DOWNLOAD: The 10-Minute Marketing Audit for Parts Websites
A marketing agency well-suited to the needs of your parts website will easily give you anywhere between a 4-10x return on investment (ROI), depending on your brand.
In this day and age, your parts website simple cannot succeed online without some type of marketing!
Marketing agencies should always give you a positive return on investment. If you’re losing money on the agency, then something is wrong with that agency! Stop working with them immediately and find a marketing agency that has experience in marketing auto parts.
The parts & accessories eCommerce market is still fairly new, so dealerships are still finding new ways to stand out. As long as you stay informed and up-to-date on the latest tricks and trends, it’s a lot easier to take your share of the online profit (so reading the weekly RevolutionParts resource articles is a good place to start!).As the years go by, parts eCommerce is only going to get more competitive. Right now there’s a larger margin for error, so it’s the perfect time to optimize your parts website and turn eCommerce best practices into established habit.