Two Experts’ Predictions for the Future of Automotive eCommerce

Looking forward in 2016 and beyond, where can we expect the future of parts & accessories eCommerce to take us? What should you expect in the coming years, and where should you be looking to stay ahead of the curve?

We asked two experts to give us their predictions for the future, and here’s the insights they shared with us. In general, the digital age has automotive eCommerce on the rise. If you haven’t set up an auto parts ecommerce store yet, there’s no better time to start than now.

Expert #1: Ted Fellowes

With 30 years of experience with service parts solutions, Fellowes has played a leading role in advancing OE service parts productivity and eCommerce-enabled parts sourcing solutions.

Overall, Fellowes sees a continued shift towards eCommerce, for both retail and wholesale. Automakers will have a large hand in shaping this shift from brick-and-mortar to eCommerce.

His Predictions:

  • Automakers will expand their involvement in parts eCommerce, including the creation of OEM programs to promote parts eCommerce and buying communities, dealer subsidies, and co-op marketing funds for selling online.
  • Automakers might also look to expand licensing of parts catalog content, other parts information, and vehicle-build databases for parts eCommerce. We won’t be able to expect this from all automakers, though. Some will be progressive, others less so, and some not at all.
  • Digital photo libraries, built and curated by automakers, will likely be a possibility. They will then prepare to license these photos for use in eCommerce and other appropriate solutions.
  • There will be an expanded adoption of online, variable OEM parts tools to provide your dealership real-time MSRP. This was first launched by GM in late 2014 for 90k ‘body’ parts, called MyPriceLink (MPL).

What does this mean for you? Automakers will make it even easier for you to sell online by offering helpful tools to promote and improve your eCommerce parts store. The only step left for dealers is finding an auto parts software that can handle everything you throw at them.

Expert #2: Jason Lancaster

Founder of Spork Marketing, Lancaster has nearly 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the auto industry. Since 2007, he and his company have focused on marketing services tailored specifically to the success of eCommerce auto part & accessory retailers and manufacturers.

Lancaster has an eye for where dealerships need to look if they want to succeed in the years to come. The digital world switches gears rapidly, so Lancaster predicts what changes are coming that dealers will need to adapt to.

His Predictions:

  • Google plans to update their ranking system later this year, and it will have a sizable impact on sites with a lot of unoriginal content – namely, auto parts eCommerce sites that utilize a standard catalog. Now’s the time to write fresh content for your site, or risk taking a hit later.
  • Online auto part & accessory sales will grow 20% year over year. Even though most estimates show about 13% growth between 2015 and 2016, eCommerce sales growth seems to have accelerated in the last six months due to continued emphasis on mobile device commerce. Of course, this means your parts site needs to be mobile-friendly in order to take advantage of this opportunity.
  • Strong new truck and SUV sales are going to mean a stronger consumer demand for used trucks and SUVs, including models that are 15+ years old. Retailers should be prepared to sell parts for these older trucks and SUVs.
  • The competitive and aggressive OE part pricing available online is going to put even more pressure on over-the-counter OE part pricing. More consumers will be comparing online and in-store prices—and might not like seeing higher in-store prices. Parts and service personnel need to be prepared to explain why counter prices are higher than online in order to avoid CSI problems.

The message for dealers: the coming years might just separate high-performing online auto parts stores from the ones who don’t put in the effort to adapt. This is a great chance for your dealership to stand out and rise above the competition!

The Takeaway

In general, the future looks bright for online parts and accessory sales—as long as you can stay ahead of the curve. If your dealership is a good fit for parts eCommerce, you have the chance to boost your profits and dominate the automotive industry in eCommerce while it’s still young.

The market for selling car parts online certainly will change and become more competitive, but as long as you prepare, your dealership can stay ahead of the curve and continue to profit from this expanding market.

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