Experts predict that over the next six years, the global automotive eCommerce market will increase in value from $75 billion to $213 billion.
The market for vehicle parts and accessories is vast and diverse. As consumers become more accustomed to having their aftermarket needs taken care of by online providers, businesses with greater product variations have a huge competitive advantage. It’s not surprising then, that automotive businesses find themselves with thousands, sometimes even millions, of SKUs to manage.
While maintaining a comprehensive product range is crucial, nevertheless the higher your SKU count, the lower your margin for error.
High SKU volumes require a precise and dependable management strategy. There are four areas we will be exploring regarding the importance of integration for automotive eCommerce: accommodating an online presence, listing quality, accuracy of buying insights, and customer satisfaction.
Automotive consumers are increasingly using online channels to research and purchase cars and car parts. 88% of potential car buyers do their pre-purchase research online.
Having a strong online presence can feel overwhelming, particularly for an industry that historically relied on in-person sales. It involves online stock management, product listings across multiple sales channels, using a robust reporting structure to grow sales and perhaps most dauntingly, having your parts data organised in a ‘B2C’ way according to how consumers search. Integration allows you to maintain multiple platforms simultaneously, accommodating an online presence that is now vital within the industry.
We describe listing quality as one of the key levers of eCommerce growth. Although this is true across all eCommerce industries, the breadth of inventory required in automotive eCommerce can make this particularly challenging for aftermarket retailers. Especially when we consider the necessity for coverage across multiple sales channels.
Let’s say you’ve got a healthy range of ignition coils. Great job – Johnny New-Car will be delighted that you carry his very specific single spark coil. However, within that range, you have about 104 different SKUs. For Johnny New-Car to know you have the ignition coil of his dreams, your listings need to be descriptive and unique to each SKU, for his make-model-year, across all your sales channels.
If your sales channels aren’t integrated, this means manually updating your listings of each item for every single sales channel. This might be somewhat bearable if the listing requirements were not slightly different for each channel. Integrating your sales platforms into one centralised software removes the need for duplicated data entry. This process of automating your listings saves you and your employees days, maybe even weeks, of time in data entry.
When contending with such high SKU volumes, acting quickly on information intelligence from your systems is the most effective way of making good buying decisions. Relying on multiple reports across different platforms negatively impacts the clarity of your data. Making buying decisions based on inaccurate data is a risky game and could result in an unprofitable stock position. A robust buying strategy is not only important for ensuring your stock levels support profitability but also for ensuring you maintain positive supplier relationships.
It’s notoriously hard to find supplier feeds with reliable part numbers and recognised model types within the automotive eCommerce industry. Once you find a supplier you trust, you want to ensure you do not become a tedious client with unstable or inconsistent buying behaviours. An integrated reporting strategy promotes a sustainable and consistent buying strategy that will keep you, your customers, and your suppliers happy.
Keeping customers happy is fundamental to all eCommerce businesses. Unfortunately, they’re not always a forgiving bunch. Johnny New-Car wants a seamless experience from ‘order now’ to opening the package. Unintegrated platforms leave plenty of room for error, this is particularly true for automotive eCommerce due to the vast number of SKUs.
Relying on manual updates across multiple platforms can result in:
All of which culminate in a negative customer experience.
Automotive eCommerce sellers are expected to be equipped with a range of products for different vehicles. This wide range of products requires vast amounts of data work, as well as accurate reporting to inform future buying. Integrated systems save valuable time while also improving the accuracy of the data input and reporting strategy. Together these improve the customer experience and the business’s profitability.
Get in touch if you would like to find out more about integrating your platforms as an automotive eCommerce business.