Certain car parts, such as batteries, airbags, and seatbelt pre-tensioners need to be shipped with special care in order to ensure that they arrive safely—they require something called “hazmat shipping.”
Hazmat shipping is not something your dealership should take lightly. If you fail to meet hazmat standards, you could face serious financial and legal risks, not to mention putting someone’s health at stake. It’s your responsibility to inform your customers and ship these items properly.
That said, it’s no surprise that many dealerships choose to avoid selling these parts online completely to avoid extra complication. However, there are customers looking to buy these parts online, so it’s still an opportunity for sales if your Parts Department doesn’t mind dealing with an extra step.
Step 1: Get certified.
Without the proper certification, your dealership could be fined up to $10,000! Even minor errors in your paperwork or packaging can delay shipment speed and upset your customers (not to mention that mistakes could cause public safety issues!).
Before you start shipping hazmat items, you need to go through special training with your shipping carrier. You can attend a public seminar or arrange for an in-house seminar, depending on what your carrier offers.
The seminar will cover all the information you’ll need to know about paperwork, packing materials, labels, and more. You will have to have this certification renewed every three years.
Don’t be afraid to talk with your shipping carrier before shipping if you forgot something covered during the seminar. Not adhering to the rules can lead to huge fines and legal trouble for your dealership, so calling your shipping provider is a good way to make sure you don’t miss any steps.
Step 2: Work with your eCommerce provider.
Are you working with the right eCommerce solution—one that can make handling hazmat parts a bit easier? Dealerships using RevolutionParts don’t have to worry. We’ve marked all the hazmat items in your catalog so you know what they are. You can also set a surcharge per item for hazardous shipping which will automatically update in your customer’s shipping price.
If your eCommerce provider doesn’t flag hazmat parts, you run the risk of shipping off a hazmat item in normal packaging, which puts your dealership at legal risk. Familiarize yourself with which auto parts are considered hazardous materials so you aren’t caught off guard.
This helpful infographic lists some of the hazmat items commonly found in vehicles. Your shipping provider may be able to provide information specific to auto parts during your required certification training, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Step 3: Decide how to price it.
There’s an added cost for hazmat shipping, of course. Typically, the fee is about $30 per hazmat package for standard carriers like FedEx and UPS Ground. You can decide how much of this fee to pass on to your customers, and how much you’ll pay yourself.
On average, our dealers set their surcharge between $25 and $45. Remember, a lower price will attract more customers. At the same time, you don't want to lose money to shipping costs. Waiving the fee altogether will cut into your profits. Test different numbers to see what sells best.
Step 4: Inform your customers.
Hazmat shipping is not a problem for in-store shopping, so many customers won’t know what it is or understand why they have to pay an extra charge—especially something as hefty as a $40 fee. This might make you hesitate to tell your customers and instead just bake it into the normal shipping price.
But hiding the fee isn’t the answer, because if the customer finds out, they'll probably be upset that you were dishonest—it's not the best way to build customer trust. Just be open with your customers and inform them why hazmat shipping is necessary. Once they understand the potential risks of unprotected shipping for hazardous items, they’ll appreciate your commitment to safety.
Safety comes first, but it shouldn’t have to limit your profit margin. With knowledge, proper communication, and an eCommerce provider you can count on, hazmat shipping can be a selling point of security—not danger—that your customers can count on.