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How the Automotive Parts Industry is getting e-commerce ready

Automotive E-commerce
Automotive parts suppliers are gearing up for e-commerce

Often times, the bigger the industry, the harder it is to adjust to fast moving tech trends. The automotive industry is definitely falls into this category. The Automotive Aftermarket is expected to reach $486.4 billion by 2025 according to Grand View Research Inc. The biggest benefactor of this upward surge is bound to be the e-commerce channel.

With replacement part categories like tires, batteries, brake parts, filters, body parts, lighting and electronic components, wheels, exhaust components and turbochargers, it’s obvious that it is a massive challenge for parts distributors to manage their product catalogues, product offerings and product inventory due to the vast number of different vehicle types and year models on the roads.

So how does the Automotive distributor, wholesaler and OEM supplier solve the problem of becoming digitally savvy, and what benefits does it hold?

Integrated Catalogue

The importance of having a catalogue integrated into a dynamic ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) system is critical. This allows the distributor to manage inventory across multiple sales channels, and allows the Automotove Parts Distributor to have a truly Omni-channel approach (when implemented correctly). Omni-channel commerce strategies strive to give the customer a seamless experience with one company whether they order online, in-store or on the phone.

Interactive Electronic Catalogue

It’s a big challenge for especially wholesalers and distributors, as OEM suppliers are still providing conventional paperback catalogues. Most category managers do not have the time to manually create electronic catalogues. However, the first key to digital success for Automotive parts distributors, is to have a interactive electronic catalogue that can be managed in single-source publication format. This will allow distributors and wholesalers to easily manage versions and updates as and when needed.

Dynamic Search and Verification

With the interactive catalogue comes the ability to have a dynamic search and verification feature. Customers could enjoy the same type of search features as they would find on some of the worlds best e-commerce websites, where search can provide predictive text options, thumbnail displays, on-promo items, searching categories as well as SKUs. Furthermore voice search also becomes possible.

Another element of importance is verification. The better verification mechanism a Automotive distributor can supply to the customer, the more sales they would get. Distributors need to find a way to give customers peace of mind that they are buying the right part for their vehicle to ensure customer satisfaction and less returns.

Switch on Automotive E-commerce Ordering

Still a very contentious matter among manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers, however e-commerce takes on may forms in the B2B world. EDI has been around for a while and has definitely changed the way retail and distribution orders parts in the Automotive industry. EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and e-commerce is in essence the same thing, however, having a interactive catalogue with dynamic features like search, verification, brochure on demand, quoting features, live chat, chat bots, pricing levels, shipping options, part-payment options and more, it makes sense to take that extra step to become e-commerce efficient. This is applicable to both the distributor/re-seller that sells to B2B and B2C.

In conclusion, the Automotive Industry is gearing up for autonomous vehicles, predictive maintenance and a lot of other very disruptive tech trends when it comes to vehicles. The only way for the Aftermarket segment to keep up would be to optimise their business processes and get closer to the customers.

Cassie van Wyk is the main author of this blog and has years of experience in the field of channel marketing and e-commerce respectively. He has a passion for writing and sharing knowledge, and does a lot of research in order to bring factual information to all the blog visitors. Feel free to reach out at any time!

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