As the market for buying parts & accessories grows, it makes sense that the ways to sell online will grow, too.
In just the last few years, eBay Motors and Amazon have made massive strides in moving part & accessory sales online. In the future, we may even see dealerships using websites like Craigslist to add an extra sales channel.
eCommerce solutions (like us!) have jumped on the opportunity to reach a growing market. From eBay solutions to standalone parts eCommerce solutions, vendors are trying new ways to make YOUR life easier.
1. Secure and reliable website and payment gateways
If your parts website goes down, you can’t make sales. It’s as simple as that.
And sales aren’t the only thing affected!
Constant website outages are:
- Frustrating to a buyer
- Hurtful to your credibility as an online seller
When shoppers visit your website, only to find that it’s down, glitchy, or slow, it’s unlikely that they’ll ever come back.
Part of this goes back to a fear of online fraud. Parts eCommerce solutions have been hacked in the past, leading to lost customer data and stolen credit cards.
Any professional business should have safe and secure payment gateways that keep sensitive information safe.
Make sure to partner with a solution that is PCI compliant and uses tokenization to protect customer info.
2. Accurate shipping estimates
From tiny bolts to huge bumpers, parts departments have to deal with items of every shape and size.
Parts can be oversized, odd-shaped, heavy, hazmat, and so on. This can make shipping a nightmare—for your customers and your profit line!
High shipping estimates will scare away shoppers, while low shipping estimates cut into dealership profits when you have to make up the difference.
Some dealerships end up asking their customers for more money after undercharging for shipping, which just looks bad (but it's better than taking a huge hit to your margin).
Bad: Shipping based on a percentage of the price
This method isn’t very accurate. Small, pricey products overcharge customers, while large but relatively inexpensive items end up costing way too little.
That said, it does make sense to charge a little more for high-price items to cover the cost of special shipping, like "fragile" or "require signature."
Good: Shipping estimates based on catalog data
This method is much more accurate, since this is how shipping carriers calculate their prices in the first place.
Even better, you should be able to compare carrier prices straight from the order management screen in order to find the best price between USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL.
And, of course, this estimate should display to customers in real time as they add items to their cart!
3. Customer-friendly interface
Confused shoppers do not turn into customers!
Your website must be clean and easy to navigate for everyday parts shoppers. If it’s difficult for parts shoppers to search, they’ll get frustrated and leave.
No matter how great an eCommerce platform’s back end tools are, you can't sell to confused or frustrated customers. When you first start asking to parts eCommerce solutions, ask them what about the average conversion rate on the websites they power.
To test this yourself, browse through some parts websites powered by the solution. Pick a part that you want to “buy,” and then go through the process of finding it and adding it to your cart.
You don’t need to actually buy it, of course, but this is a fantastic way to see the store through your shopper's eyes.
4. Accurate and flexible OEM catalog
Part & accessory catalogs are absolutely massive, so it’s nearly impossible to find a catalog that’s 100% error-free. But some eCommerce solutions have better data than others, and it can make a huge difference in your online success.
Glitchy catalogs can lead to misunderstandings between you and your customer. If something isn’t labeled properly, a customer may end up buying a part that isn’t what they need.
Being able to edit catalog data is especially powerful.
If you come across an inaccuracy such as incorrect or missing weights & dimensions, wouldn’t it be nice to add that information yourself? Give the part a quick measure, enter in the dimensions, and send it out. Plus, you won't have to worry about bad data for that part ever again.
But some catalogs are fixed in place, and users aren’t able to make changes. In this case, parts managers would have to estimate the shipping by hand and risk setting the wrong price.
5. Ability to customize
This is YOUR parts website. You should have as much control over it as possible.
Not only that, but setting your own pricing and shipping can play a huge factor in your success. Without control, it’s difficult to set balanced prices that are both profitable and competitive.
With some eCommerce solutions, you need to call and request a change for every little thing, and then take weeks to fulfill your request. Others will just leave you in the dark and expect you to figure out the customizations on your own.
Marketing is incredibly important too, but you can always hire a marketing agency to handle it for you. That said, built-in marketing tools can give you an edge if you plan on doing the marketing yourself.
Features like the ones listed above are the basis of online success, so any parts eCommerce solution you plan to partner with should have them all down solid.
Extra features that make your life easier are certainly a plus, but bells and whistles aren’t enough to give you a solid framework for growth.
So look at these features first when making your decision!