Aftermarket ecommerce – Part 2

Aftermarket ecommerce - Part 2

In this 2-post series, we look at how brands and manufacturers can succeed in vehicle parts aftermarket ecommerce.

In the first post, we talked about the challenges of getting to grips with vehicle parts marketplaces, with consumers directly, and about the importance of protecting your brand online. Let’s get into the other 3 challenges for OE/OEMs and how to overcome them.

Conflict with other routes to vehicle parts market

For brands and manufacturers of vehicle parts and accessories to fit cars, vans, trucks, motor bikes, powersports and marine vehicles, the traditional routes to market have typically been B2B. Both OEs and OEMs make their parts and accessories available to distributors, resellers and individual dealerships and garages, and there is an accepted flow of trade down to the end customer who pays for the work.

The prospect of selling vehicle parts directly to consumers via online channels like marketplaces and web stores is new for many brands and manufacturers, and they worry about the effect on their current B2B relationships. Perhaps their distribution channel will start to favour other brands who are not active on online channels? This concern is misplaced, not least because many of these distributors and resellers themselves are already online or moving that way.

The online channels service a new and different market for brands and manufacturers of vehicle parts. While there exists a small cohort of B2B buyers on these channels, the heavy majority are consumers who are buying an accessory to use or wear themselves or who are buying a part they’re going to fit themselves. Either they like doing it, or they want to save money, or both.

The best way to confidently enter the new and emerging routes to the vehicle parts market is to work with partners who specialise in designing the right online channel strategy for you and guiding you through to online multichannel success with customised onboarding and ongoing managed services. Companies like ecommotors have been doing this for more than 20 years and we also provide this expertise for Amazon and eBay motors sellers. Our background in multichannel strategy means we’ll recommend the tailored, marketplace- and web store-specific approaches to avoid channel conflict.

Cannibalising other channels

This perceived challenge to brands and manufacturers is related to channel conflict. OE/OEMs worry that the effort and investment they make in setting up new channels will result in sales from the new channels that are taking directly from their existing channels. The net result is a higher cost of doing business, or so the reasoning goes.

As we’ve already explored, the experience of companies we’ve worked with over the years does not bear this out. Because the marketplace and web store buyers are substantially from a new vehicle parts market, the actual effect is that you create additional, or incremental revenues without any overlapping of channels.

Furthermore, a further business benefit of adding an extra online channel or two is the resilience from being active in multiple places. If your traditional routes to market suffer the kind of catastrophic fortunes we saw in 2020, or perhaps a more run-of-the-mill downturn, then online channels offer a low cost sanctuary. Similarly, if you suffer a reversal on one of your key marketplaces, and your business is fairly evenly distributed across them, then you’re more agile and you can recover more quickly.

A provider like ecommotors can provide a complete solution in the form of ecommerce platform and managed services covering the entire ecommerce life cycle to further reduce your risk and exposure. Our platform centrally manages this life cycle across consumer relationships on multiple channels and provides insight on sales performance to enable quick, targeted improvements.

What to do with the vehicle parts consumer data

Speaking of insight, the world of online commerce offers brands and manufacturers an inviting window on the end customer. Ordinarily, the companies that make the parts and accessories for the aftermarket are at least one step removed from the consumer who benefits from their deployment. OE/OEMs rely on data from distributors, resellers and individual garages, and they have to supplement this with their own research into customer behaviour. And since you’re now selling directly to consumers, rather than relying on your distribution channel, you need to know what’s really going on in these marketplaces and webstores so you can manage them well.

Direct to consumer channels hold the promise of real consumption information. For this promise to be made real, brands and manufacturers need business intelligence tools that capture the data accurately and present it in ways that are useful, or in other words without the need for further data crunching. Then there is the question of how the BI software hooks into the system which is managing and recording the online transactions, buyers, suppliers, inventory, orders, stock levels, shipping and customer service.

The ideal solution is to find an integrated transacting and reporting platform that’s geared to the aftermarket industry. Whole solution providers like ecommotors have developed flexible reporting and analytics platforms that collect ecommerce data and surface it in various dashboards and reports with drill-down capability for top customers, best selling items, profitable items, refund/return-heavy items, or slow-moving stock, by product, channel, country, supplier, shipper and so on.

To read about the first 3 challenges brands and manufacturers need to overcome, click here [link to post 1, put them both up at the same time].

To find out more about the automotive aftermarket, or for a no-obligation introductory discussion, please contact us.