We get it: Parts eCommerce is that new kid on the block that most dealerships just don’t understand yet. It's a strange, uncharted land, and with so many misconceptions about what it actually takes to make a profit selling parts & accessories online, many dealerships have pushed it to the side.
But selling car parts online is a huge opportunity for dealerships, and it’s only growing. Dealers are generating hundreds of thousands in sales each year by selling parts & accessories online.
So what exactly IS parts eCommerce? What does it cost? And can you succeed online, even if you're not a techie person?
These are some of the most common questions that dealers ask us when they first start to consider parts eCommerce:
1. How does parts eCommerce work?
With parts & accessories eCommerce, your dealership is basically just opening up sales to a new market: the internet.
It’s not too different than doing business at the parts counter. A customer tells you what part or accessory they need, you collect their money, and you hand over their purchase.
When a customer buys a part from you online, it follows the same basic structure. After they place an order through your website, you collect payment, gather the parts they’ve ordered, box them up, and ship them out.
Partnering with a parts eCommerce solution means you don’t have to deal with the gritty, technical details. They will handle things like:
- Build and design the website for you
- Upload and update an online OEM catalog data
- Handle online payment gateways and security
- Generate instant shipping estimates
- And much more.**
...And they'll make it really easy for you to do "technical" things on your own, like:
- Create promo codes for customers
- Adjust shipping or pricing rules
- Market on Google Shopping
- And much more.**
In short, a parts eCommerce platform handles the technical side of selling online so you don’t have to. Parts managers are busy enough as it is, so RevolutionParts does everything we can to make selling as easy and painless as possible. And, of course, profitable!
**Note: Not all parts eCommerce solutions will be able to provide everything on this list!
Free e-book: How to Find your Ideal Parts eCommerce Solution
2. How much does parts eCommerce cost?
This can vary a lot by who you choose as your parts eCommerce vendor.
Some eCommerce solutions will let you get started for dirt cheap, but you get what you pay for. Due to poor website design and a difficult checkout process for parts shoppers, dealerships on a cheap platform might only get one or two sales each month.
You also run the risk of putting your customers and yourself at risk. In 2014, one major parts eCommerce platform suffered a serious security breach. Sensitive customer information (and full credit card numbers—yikes!) were stolen as a result.
So, at the very least, make sure you partner with a platform that is PCI compliant and uses Tokenization to protect customer data!
On the other end of the spectrum are parts eCommerce websites that take a huge percentage (10% or higher) of your gross sales. While this kind of pricing structure can be a fair deal for starting out, dealerships generating tens of thousands of dollars each month end up seriously overpaying for their website.
Before you partner with anyone, know what you’re paying for! Compare your options to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Grab a free copy of the Parts eCommerce Vendor Evaluation Checklist to make sure you’re asking all the right questions when you’re seeing a product demo.
3. What if I'm not a techie person?
If you partner with the right eCommerce platform, they won’t leave you hanging!
Remember, you’re not in this alone. Your parts eCommerce platform handles all the technical details, like launching the website and providing secure payment gateways.
Meaning: You DON’T have to be internet savvy to run a successful parts website.
It’s true that knowing some eCommerce best practices will help your parts website. That’s why we run this weekly resource center—to help dealers master the online side of auto part sales.
Training will be part of the onboarding process so you know exactly how to manage your online store. Some eCommerce platforms will be more clunky and confusing to navigate than others. Keep an eye out for this when you see a demo of the software!
Simple, turnkey back end tools are a staple of the RevolutionParts platform. We also have a knowledge base full of guides and video tutorials, along with free support by email, chat, or phone so you’re not left in the dark.
4. Who pays for shipping?
When you’re setting up your parts eCommerce platform for the first time, configuring settings (like shipping) will be on your to-do checklist.
Most dealers choose to have their shoppers pay for shipping. With so many oversized, odd-shaped, and heavy items, shipping can get pretty expensive. Some dealers even choose to sell hazmat auto parts (such as batteries and airbags), which means an additional hazardous materials fee.
Often, if you covered the shipping, you’d be hard pressed to make any profit at all.
That said, some dealers do run the occasional “free shipping” promotion, where customers can get free shipping on an order over $100 or some other amount. You could also include coupons for free shipping or half-off shipping in a packaging insert or in promotional emails to past customers.
As it is, make sure to partner with an eCommerce solution that can help you estimate shipping costs, because it can definitely cut into your profits if you don’t set an accurate price.
5. Can I move obsolete parts?
Definitely! Selling online is one of the best ways to clear out the overstock and obsolete parts taking up room on your shelves.
It’s difficult to find a customer in your local area looking for those old, obsolete car parts you have. But when you expand your market to reach across the country—or even across the world!—finding a customer is much easier.
By the way, eBay is perfect for selling obsolete parts. Online shoppers already recognize it as the go-to place for hard-to-find items.
Plus, eBay’s Global Shipping Program takes away all the hassle of selling overseas—with no extra cost. Your dealership only has to ship international orders to eBay’s U.S. shipping center, and they’ll handle customs papers and international shipping for you.
6. Would I have time for it?
Many dealers do work eCommerce into their schedule and accomplish the additional work without hiring extra staff! Once you get the hang of the eCommerce platform you choose, it will be easier to navigate through, process orders, and collect payment.
An efficient parts eCommerce platform will save you a lot of time by automating manual tasks, helping you quickly identify potential fraud, printing shipping labels straight from the order page, and more.
Dealers partnered with RevolutionParts HAVE reported getting busier in the parts department since they started selling parts & accessories online. You may find that every Monday, you have dozens of orders to ship out that came in over the weekend.
But even though the extra orders mean extra work, it also means more sales and more profit. It’s the best kind of busy! Plus, as your staff trains up and gets used to handling the online orders, it will only get easier.
7. Will my eCommerce provider market for me?
Again, this depends on your parts eCommerce platform. Some solutions do offer marketing services for an extra cost. And yes, RevolutionParts DOES have an in-house team of marketing experts who are happy to help our dealers succeed.
We cannot stress this enough: Some kind of marketing is absolutely necessary to succeed online. We recommend hiring a marketing agency, whether it’s through your eCommerce platform or through one of your platform’s marketing partners.
Marketing agencies should always give you a positive return on investment. If you aren’t getting a positive ROI, then something is wrong with your agency, and it’s time to find a new one! We strongly recommend working with an agency with experience in marketing auto parts.
How do I choose?
For some parts managers, it’s easier to get budget approval for marketing through the eCommerce platform rather than a separate marketing agency. It can also simplify to your budget to have all your costs in one place, rather than paying invoices to multiple companies.
Ask potential marketing partners what kind of ROI their clients get on average. Compare pricing. Ask if the agency has any case studies or proof of their success.
If you decide not to work with a marketing agency, RevolutionParts offers built-in marketing tools to help you market on your own:
- Drift Marketing email campaigns (Also known as an Abandoned Cart Recovery Email)
- SEO tools and landing pages
- Custom discounts and promo codes
- XML sitemaps
- MailChimp integration for promotional emails
- Google Shopping feeds
8. How will I stand out with all of the competition on the internet?
Right now, we estimate that only about 20% of dealerships are selling parts & accessories online. If your dealership gets started in the near future, you’d already be ahead of the game!
That said, there IS competition online, which is why marketing is so important.
Customers aren’t going to stumble on your parts website by accident. Marketing is the most reliable way to help shoppers find your website and put you ahead of your competitors.
Pricing strategies and customer service can also play a major role in attracting customers. Did you know that according to Crowdtwist, about 66% of customers will shop with their preferred brand, even if an alternative offers a better price? Building up a loyal following of repeat customers will definitely give you an edge online.
FREE EBOOK: 6 Ways to Outsmart your Online Parts Competitors
Parts and accessories eCommerce is still a fairly new market, so it makes sense that there are still so many questions and myths surrounding how it works. We really want to clear the air about common dealership fears, because we’ve seen firsthand just how much success a parts department can have online.
With the right training and support, eCommerce best practices are easy to learn. You don’t need to be a techie genius to make a profit online!
So what is parts eCommerce?
It's an opportunity for your dealership to grow sales and gross profit...with only a small learning curve to get the hang of it.
Your dealership could be selling online in just a few weeks! Click here to see a demo of RevolutionParts, the #1 Parts eCommerce solution for OEM dealerships.