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The Top 3 Online Replacement Parts Purchases – Who’s Buying and Why

The Top 3 Online Replacement Parts Purchases – Who’s Buying and Why

A while back, this blog talked about the value of setting up an e-store.  While all good information, let’s take it a step further to better understand who’s actually buying online and what replacement parts they’re actually purchasing – the answers may surprise you.

It’s Not Who or What You Think

Contrary to popular belief . . .  it’s not just DIYers buying specialty parts.  It’s not just installers looking for the best price.  It’s not just mechanical parts people are buying.  And, it’s not just millennial male shoppers.

Instead, according to Auto Care Association’s 2014 E-Tailing in the Automotive Aftermarket, these “tech-savvy” online shoppers are actually a balanced mix of Professional Installers and Consumers who are purchasing from public websites.

online replacement parts table 9-10-15

And …wait for it …   This mix is 36% female and 77% is over the age of 45!  So much for believingyour market isn’t really “ready” for online buying.

Furthermore, these groups typically concentrate their spending in the following Top 3 Online Replacement Parts Categories:

  1. Braking Systems – $1,380 million annually
  2. Ignition & Engine – $900 million annually
  3. 3.      Glass/Mirrors/Lamps – $720 million annually

While not much of a surprise there, now take a look at EVERYTHING they’re buying online.  Pay particular attention to the cool $480 million a year spent online for higher-margin, OEM-preferred collision & body parts.

parts pie chart 9-10-15

AND . . . The Market is a Lot, Lot Bigger than You Think

In case you’re still adding up all those figures in your head, let me do it for you.  The annual spend online for automotive replacement parts – excluding accessories – is a staggering $6 billion.

What’s more, online parts sales is the FASTEST growing channel for automotive replacement parts —posting double digit increases in the last 2 years.  And it’s expected to double by 2018 to $13.2 billion, and $28.8 billion by 2023.  This is twice what IBIS World had initially reported.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Big parts e-tailers like Rock Auto, Tire Rack, eBay and Amazon are the ones that are cleaning up with this market.  Not necessarily so.

Installers, representing the majority of the online market, are still directing 1/3 – or $1.1 billion – of their spending towards “Bricks & Clicks” e-tailers, those suppliers who have both a physical and online storefront.   And, even more interesting, is what motivates their purchase behavior.

Price is NOT Always the Primary Online Purchase Driver

Installers care more about the price/quality relationship and are willing to pay more for quicker availability (< 1 day).  In fact, 60% of them want – and need – 24/7 purchase access.

This finding bears out with OEC’s ConsumerLink®.  Dealers with public parts storefronts report that 50% of their online sales occur after business hours and on the weekends.  You heard me right, ½ of their online revenue is occurring – while they sleep – simply because of their online presence!

Join the Online Space or “Invite” Your Customers to Buy from Someone Else

Facts don’t lie.  E-tailing – or public online sites – are the fastest growing sales channel for automotive replacement parts.  While small relative to the total replacement parts market, online purchases are accounting for $6 billion a year.  And that’s excluding accessories.

Add to this the fact that the “big guns” like eBay, Amazon and Google are now test-marketing same-day- delivery – one of your primary competitive advantages – with a goal to launch this service by end-of-year 2015.

Sounds like it may be time to run this article “up the food chain” and start planning the incremental sales you’ll see from a public parts storefront.