The aftermarket industry is part of the automotive industry that deals with automotive services and parts businesses. According to a study, the automotive aftermarket segment will continue growing at about 3% per year until 2030. Considering the current global health crisis and the steady rise of online shopping, it’s no surprise that a shift towards auto parts eCommerce is expected. But once you decide you want to sell auto parts online, where can you hope to achieve this?
Long gone are the days of salvage yard roaming. There are plenty of options for starting an aftermarket parts business on the internet, from known eCommerce platforms such as eBay, Amazon, and Walmart, to building your website with your very own online auto part catalog.
Let’s explore these most popular solutions for an online auto parts store.
One of the many reasons why plenty of online retailers opt to sell on Amazon is that this eCommerce platform gets over 2 billion visitors per month worldwide. This is a vast potential customer pool and an unbelievably large audience to market to.
That being said, there are also downsides to setting up your auto parts store on Amazon.
First, you have to be on the Professional selling plan to enter the car parts category, which is around $40 per month. Because the Automotive & Powersports category is a restricted one, you cannot sell vehicle parts and accessories for free on Amazon. You may also be charged with referral fees, roughly around 12%.
Aside from having to pay a monthly subscription, you will also run into a few strict regulations. They include:
- No selling of used car parts. (Only OE or OEM parts.)
- No selling of safety parts, such as seat belts or airbags.
- No selling of used tires.
- To sell new tires, you need to meet the standards outlined in the Compliance Checklist for Tires on Amazon.
- All products must come with a warranty from the manufacturer or the remanufacturer.
- Depending on the state you’re selling in, there may be additional requirements. An example is California, where products of this kind must be compliant with the California Air Resources Board.
All of these regulations are put in place to protect customers from faulty auto parts and accessories. If you have no problems with any of these rules (and even those we didn’t mention here!), then you will gain access to a vast customer base.
However, be warned that the competition on Amazon is insanely high. To succeed as an auto parts seller on this cutthroat site, you will need to have a robust supply chain and a competitive pricing strategy. This may not lead to the kind of revenue you were hoping for, but the sheer number of customers you get may compensate for it.
Another platform worthy of mention is eBay. Each second, approximately three automotive parts or accessories are sold on this eCommerce site. There are over 90 million live listings for parts at any given moment. After Amazon, eBay is the second-biggest customer pool you could tap into.
The automotive aftermarket industry is so big on eBay that it has an entire section dedicated only to auto parts – eBay Motors.
The good news is that eBay Motor regulations let you sell used car parts, both genuine and replacement parts. If that’s more your comfort zone, then eBay is the clear winner over Amazon.
Another chief difference is that you don’t have to subscribe to any plan on eBay. However, selling auto parts is not free, either. You have to pay a small fee per every listing you put up, and you only get to offer 50 listings a month.
Additionally, eBay charges a final value fee after the purchase, which is approximately 10% of the total sale. If your product belongs in the heavy goods category, then the final value fee is only 2%.
Another sales channel you could consider is Walmart. It is not as big as eBay or Amazon, but it could lead to substantial profits if you decide to go this route.
However, one significant factor with Walmart is that they accept only already established automotive parts sellers. That means you need to have a brick and mortar store, an already established eCommerce website, or a positive track record for selling parts on Amazon or eBay.
Before you can even approach the Walmart audience, you have to sign up for a Walmart Seller Account. You will need to submit a Marketplace Application, and it could take anywhere from two to three weeks until you’re approved (or rejected).
If Walmart approves you, it isn’t too difficult to upload your products onto their platform or link your eCommerce website to their API.
A significant advantage of online marketplaces such as the above-mentioned is that they already have a large following and people looking to buy what you’re selling every day. It does come at the cost of many fees and not being able to collect the entirety of your profit, but for a starter auto parts business, it might be a good option.
An alternative that will give you more freedom and flexibility with pricing is building your own online auto parts store. This includes designing and developing a website, creating a spare parts database, and managing your online inventory and catalog.
If it sounds like it’s challenging, it’s because it is. However, it comes with some fantastic perks at the same time:
- Standing apart from the competition on Amazon, eBay, and Walmart.
- Managing your own marketing strategy.
- Building your brand and voice.
- Connecting with your consumers on a deeper level, increasing the probability of repeat customers.
- Being in charge of the profit margin and pricing.
If you’re serious about the future of your business, and perhaps you even see it flourishing to something bigger, you need to invest in a website like this.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the other sales channels! Quite the opposite, one avenue for selling auto parts doesn’t exclude any other. If you play it right, you can sell on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and your website and earn profits from each.
Even though the car part industry is vast and growing, it is also highly competitive. There are two primary channels for selling vehicle parts online: Amazon and eBay. Each has its pros and cons, but, unfortunately, you cannot sell car parts on either of them without paying for a subscription (Amazon) or many fees (eBay).
Walmart is a solid third-place when it comes to already-existing online marketplaces. To sell on Walmart, though, you need to already have an established business on any other platform, including your website.
Developing your eCommerce solution and branding your business may be the perfect option if you plan to stay in the game for longer. With your site, you can show off the products with high-quality images and videos of your choosing, and you can offer better fitment data for the consumers. A crucial benefit of your website is that you can build your brand and interact with each buyer personally, developing stronger relationships with them. This leads to increased brand loyalty and repeat purchases.
Whichever platform you choose, don’t forget to market your business. Invest in some PPC or banner ads and optimize your product descriptions and site content, so they are SEO-friendly. Consider opening social media accounts for your brand to spread awareness.
Illumaware offers a state-of-the-art auto part catalog that you can seamlessly integrate into your website to make your auto part business journey easier. Contact us for more information on how to start your online automotive aftermarket business!