If you do ecommerce (aka selling direct to consumers) right, you can create a substantial revenue stream for your dealership and opens up your parts department to a completely new set of customers. However, this sort of success is not just given, it takes some strategy. So, what do our top-performing dealers do to separate themselves? Read on.
Invest in SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
At a high level, Search Engine Marketing means spending money to get your page or products found on search engines. It is the most important step to have success selling parts online. It’s easy to explain why. Customers need to be able to find your site. Without SEM, they won’t know how to get there. You may be open for business but no one will know how to find you among the thousands of other sites selling parts online.
If you want to get consumers to your site, you need to map out how – and this is what a Search Engine Marketing plan will do for you.
Here is an example of how SEM works in the real world. This dealership was selling online for 12 months without much success. They had a total of 6 orders in 12 months. Not good. They decided to try out an SEM strategy and immediately their sales took off. In just two months after paying for marketing they had 192 order.
To learn more about SEM and SEO, click here.
Adjust your prices and shipping monthly
Making adjustments based on market trends is a key factor for success with ecommerce. You should always think about how your pricing and shipping rates affect your sales and make adjustments accordingly. A part at a certain price might not be selling well anymore, and you have to adjust your pricing down. Or maybe that part is doing really well in a particular area of the country and you can raise your prices a bit there.
You’ll have to stay on top of accurately pricing your shipping. Size can be deceiving; some small parts are light and easy to ship but other small parts can be heavy and expensive to ship. You could be making a mistake if you’re charging the same shipping rate for those items. On the other hand, you could also utilize USPS… (see below)
You may be used to shipping with FedEx and UPS, but that doesn’t mean they’re always the best options. USPS is often the cheapest and best option for ecommerce orders. Many parts fit into Priority Flat Rate boxes, so “if it fits, it ships.” If the part you’re shipping fits into the USPS Priority Flat rate box, it will ship (up to 70 lbs). Another great thing about USPS? The boxes themselves are completely free. You can even have boxes dropped off at your dealership for free or simply pick them up at any post office location.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
Think about any time you order something online. What’s important to you? Generally speaking, it’s likely around customer service, fair pricing and quick/affordable shipping options. It’s no different for customers ordering your parts. When you’re pricing parts and creating shipping options to consumers, just put yourself in their shoes to make sure it’s fair.
Avoid the classic “parts hold” line when answering the phone. We know how busy it can get in your parts department, we completely understand. But you know your customers are busy too and you need to respect their time. Building loyalty and trustworthiness is important. Treat every phone call generated from the site as a potential sale or upsell opportunity.
Always have a backup
Most parts departments have their go-to person who processes ecommerce orders. Great! But what happens when that person goes on vacation? Far too many dealerships lose out on thousands of dollars simply because they don’t have someone to process ecommerce orders.
Stay Involved and Dedicated
We find that the most successful dealers are simply more involved with the process of selling parts online. They follow these best practices and the so consistently. Sometimes dealers decide to sell parts online just because it sounds like a good idea.
Well, it is a good idea, but it takes more than that to have success. The more you care about the process, the more you are invested in the success of your online storefront, the more you will get out of it. This is becoming a competitive space, but those who consistently take the right steps, like the ones listed above, will be the ones who succeed.