The Rising Trends in Online Parts Ordering

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Parts ordering has undergone a major shift in the last few years, and this transformation is only expected to increase over the next few years. According to market researcher Hedges & Company, ecommerce car parts sales are outpacing brick and mortar and will reach $8.9 billion in 2017, with growth of 15 percent between 2017 and 2018. Over $4 billion of those sales will be done through mobile devices.

Yet many automotive companies are resistant to these changes, according to a recent study by Sana Commerce on the state of B2B e-commerce, which looked at 67 automotive companies. According to their research, nearly 35 percent of automotive companies have either just deployed e-commerce or have had e-commerce in place for under a year. Thirty seven percent said that a physical store was the most important channel in their sales strategy and fewer than 18 percent placed importance on the mobile channel.

Chris de Visser, general manager for Sana Commerce, says a big part of the automotive aftermarket going forward will be omnichannel sales. An omnichannel network essentially allows for an ability to deliver a consistent selling experience across offline and online channels, while factoring in the different devices that consumers are using in the buying process (like mobile, or computer ordering).

“Omnichannel means that independent of how you have contact with your customer the data and processes are all the same,” de Visser says. “It brings a uniform approach to buying or selling or buying, all driven off the same data.”

Overall, de Visser says that independent shops can benefit from this omni-channel buying process with parts.

“It’s a wider audience that’s available, and it lets you specialize in a specific brand,” de Visser says. “If you happen to be a mechanic specialized in older Mercedes, and you know everything about the parts, and years, you can become an authority.”

de Visser also says that mobile ordering will be a major part of the ordering process going forward, although this is tricker with the automotive industry because of the complexity of parts ordering. Sana’s study said that 26 percent of the B2B organizations it looked at are using social media as a selling avenue; with 32 percent mobile apps and 32 percent using buy buttons in emails as a way to drive sales. He says that both shops and DIY customers can take advantage of the mobile ordering process as parts companies work to make the buying process more seamless.

Virtual reality and AI may also be a big part of the future parts buying experience going forward. According to Sana’s research, 39 percent of the businesses it studied intend to use artificial intelligence and virtual reality in their sales strategy. These applications are in their early stages right now, but in the future may allow for integration with technical drawing systems, and maybe look into layouts of a car for the specific part.

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