Consumers looking for parts and accessories are now more comfortable than ever to research, price compare and purchase auto parts and accessories online. Dealers are growing to recognize this as an additional revenue stream, and have been able to turn over unused inventory via online channels.
According to a new study from Polk, new vehicle owners now keep their vehicles an average of six years, which is nearly two years longer than the average life of ownership in 2003. Similarly, used car buyers are keeping their vehicles for more than four years, compared with less than three years in 2003.
By keeping vehicles longer, consumers are now focusing more heavily on parts and accessories to maintain and enhance their existing vehicles. With the improvements of product merchandising online, shoppers can easily find the right part, model number or custom product that matches their make and model exactly.
Many dealerships have not branched out beyond using online channels for scheduling purposes into selling services online. Going beyond simply selling services, bundling service with parts and accessories provides a larger opportunity to meet the demands of the customer, and the changing way in which they expect those demands to be met. As consumers continue to search online before making purchases of any size, online offerings of services and parts together are an avenue to gain additional exposure and sales with minimal investment.
To keep customers coming back for additional service and maintenance, dealers can build the customer relationship online in addition to increasing parts and accessories sales. The online relationship also aids dealers in developing the awareness they need to drive customers back to the lot when they are in the market for a vehicle purchase.
To make research, travel and shopping for these upgrades convenient, many people are buying more parts online that they previously bought at retail automotive stores or from their local mechanic. While online automotive marketplaces have been known as a source for do-it-yourselfers, more shoppers are researching and selecting the product they need online and then are looking for someone to install it for them. This growing “do it for me” crowd is looking for the convenience of bundled services and installation included with the benefits of online purchasing.
Parts and accessories sales are the most underutilized source of incremental sales for dealerships. Missing these opportunities, in addition to bundling them with the related services and maintenance, is leaving money on the table for dealerships.
A part sells every second on eBay Motors, and more than 236 million parts and accessories transactions have taken place to date on the site. Considering that some of those are purchased by the DIY crowd, there are still more than enough that need to be serviced by a mechanic or dealership.
The top three performing parts and accessories categories on eBay Motors are replacement parts, tires and wheels and racing and performance. Each of these categories relate to services and maintenance that a dealership’s service center offers. Dealers should capitalize on the popularity of these categories to uncover new sales and service opportunities.
When a customer comes directly to the dealership lot, parts and services are made and sold to complement each other, and the same scenario should play out online, providing value to consumers while at the same time boosting profits and loyalty for the dealership.
Consumers are looking for ease of use, convenience and seamless offerings in an effort to streamline the maintenance or updates they need. If a dealer can provide a simple way to purchase parts and maintenance and schedule those services, the transaction process will impact the consumer’s sentiment when it comes to making his or her next vehicle purchase.
Since customers cannot touch and feel the products they purchase online and can sometimes rely on e-mail or phone to complete the transaction, trust is essential to completing a sale. By building a solid website and multiple contact points online, dealerships can communicate frequently with customers, providing upsells and becoming the go-to resource for automotive needs. Once trust is developed, customers will be more likely to purchase even more services, parts and accessories — and perhaps their next vehicle when the time comes.
Incorporating service sales into parts and accessories sales that are already being purchased online can be a necessary trigger to gaining additional foot traffic in a dealership. It also can alleviate the fear of talking to someone that some consumers have, when they agonize over calling and scheduling appointments. Paying online in advance for services can make maintenance and upgrades easier for consumers, resulting in an increase in sales for the dealership.
As the concept of parts and accessories plus service becomes more prevalent online, consumers will grow accustomed to and expect services and parts to be paired together. By beginning to bundle these offerings to their customers now, dealers can get ahead of the curve.