Even before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the eCommerce sector was on the rise across all industries worldwide. What the pandemic managed to achieve, from this point of view, was to accelerate this transition. The auto parts eCommerce automotive aftermarket industry has increased over $42 billion in 2019 and is expected to increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 14.2% between 2020 and 2026.
Among the main growth drivers of the aftermarket industry, we can include the following:
- The increase in the number of eCommerce platforms.
- The increase in eCommerce acquisitions. This trend has also been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The growth of eCommerce spending.
- A shifting trend towards brick and click business models.
- An increase in automotive production and more stakeholders in the automotive industry.
- The increase in the overall average vehicle age. The average age of cars on American roads is at around 11 years.
- An ever-increasing shift towards digitization.
These trends stand to show the importance that auto parts catalogs already play in the automotive industry. Creating an auto parts eCommerce website that can draw in potential buyers, increase customer experience and sales is often easier said than done. Below are some of the main pain points and sought-after features that automotive aftermarket businesses will need to take into consideration.
The Main Challenges of Aftermarket Businesses
As the industry continues to grow, stakeholders will need to know what to tackle and what to pay attention to if they want to stay ahead of the competition and increase their market share. Some key industry challenges need to be considered when you start an online auto parts business. We are about to cover the challenges that will affect all partners within the automotive aftermarket supply chain, from manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers. They will include the following:
- Managing large vehicle databases and auto parts catalogs.
- Ensuring that all auto parts and accessories have proper fitment mapping.
- Increasing the user experience for your online buyers.
Industry Standards and Databases
The first of these challenges is about the use of proper year/make/model lookups and databases of vehicles and their associated car part fitments. Industry standards such as ACES and PIES and various databases that go with them are not always properly synced. Therefore, those operating in the aftermarket industry will have to rely on securing databases from various manufacturers and suppliers and adequately map them out and integrate them with their inventories. It should go without saying that this is a time- and energy-intensive task. It’s also something that will require some know-how on how to do properly and effectively.
The second issue that needs to be considered is the difficulty of properly organizing fitment data across all vehicle configurations and auto part databases. Having this done properly will greatly increase the customer experience of all website visitors. In most cases, the solutions provided will lack the necessary accuracy and clarity when matching the right part with their compatible vehicles. But when done properly and effectively, part fitment will result in increased sales, customer satisfaction, and far fewer product returns.
The Auto Part Catalog’s User Experience
The third major challenge comes in the form of selecting an eCommerce solution for your auto part website that will properly support and complement your business operations. Even if you manage to solve the first two issues, finding the right eCommerce solution that will provide the right kind of user experience and support your product database is hard to find. For example, many novice auto parts and accessory buyers don’t really know or are uncertain about the component names. They would much rather prefer to get a “look under the hood” and determine what they need that way. With the assistance of part diagrams and other such visual aids, users will be able to confirm exactly which auto parts and accessories are the ones they are looking for.
Effective Features for an Auto Parts Website Catalog
Aside from the platforms themselves, other software services that can go beyond the limitations that these platforms have. Some of these solutions can be attached to the catalog, regardless of the system used by the business. Among the features that will help increase the effectiveness of your catalog, we can include the following:
A Year-Make-Model Search Filter
This is a necessary feature that most online auto parts businesses need to have. When it comes to the automotive aftermarket industry, a simple search is almost never enough. You can’t find a specific auto part or component by navigating through levels upon levels of categories. This type of assisted navigation feature will be essential and highly sought-after by your visitors whenever they want to find their way through the many hundreds or thousands of auto parts and accessories. For example, users will select a car make (Ford) followed by the car model (Puma) and the year (2020), and the year/make/model search filter will display only those car parts and components that will fit that specific car.
However, to further streamline the search process, additional customization and database mapping could be added. Something along the lines of an extra option, such as the engine, transmission, fuel type, etc., will increase the end-user’s customer experience.
A Parts Diagram
As mentioned earlier, a visual presentation, be it for a car engine, transmission, interior, etc., can make a huge difference in helping potential customers in terms of what they are looking for. This feature is usually done as an interactive image that features several car parts. And when the customer clicks on the part number, they will be presented with the associated products’ exact names that match that specific selection. Given that even some experts – let alone customers – have trouble knowing the exact name of particular auto parts and accessories, having part diagrams in your catalog will go a long way.
A My Garage Feature
Sometimes called differently, depending on the eCommerce platform, the My Garage is a user experience personalization feature that allows customers to save their vehicle selection. It will also modify their catalog visibility so that it will only show the products that will fit their own vehicle. This would be connected to the year/make/model search feature and will be saved within the user’s account. It should also be allowed that customers can add several vehicles in their virtual garages. This will allow users and customers to quickly switch between their pre-selected vehicles and find the right parts faster and easier. It’s also a better alternative than having to go through the same selection process whenever they visit your auto part website.
Succeeding With Automotive Aftermarket eCommerce Website
While all of the above-mentioned catalog features will greatly improve your eCommerce website’s optimization, they will not be effective unless your fitment data is properly mapped and constantly kept up-to-date. Because the ACES and PIES data standards are constantly being updated, your own fitment information for each listing will need to match.
Evokat Premier is one such third-party, cloud-based solution that will ensure that your catalog information is always in peak condition. You will be able to perform regular health checks and be presented with any trouble areas, as well as with actionable solutions on how to solve the issues.
Illumaware also provides catalog management services for those business owners that don’t have the time to do this themselves. If you want to learn more about our offer, feel free to contact us directly or schedule a live demo at your convenience.