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Is Your Dealership Ready to Sell Parts Online?

Here’s what you need to know about getting started with online parts sales and how to be successful.

Getting started with online part sales can sound intimidating, but if your dealership is looking to take that next step toward sales growth, eCommerce is the way to go. However, the success of your online parts program comes down to implementing the right tools and programs to help you get the most out of the online experience as well as making it all easy for your parts team to use. If you’ve reached this point, you’ve taken the initial step toward helping your parts department get into online sales and growing the parts business. Now, let’s look at how to get your online parts business up and running, while also filling in some background information:

What?

eCommerce, or more simply, online sales, is another way for your dealership to generate revenue, grow your customer base, and provide streamlined customer service. There are many eCommerce platforms available to help you get started with online parts sales for both collision and mechanical parts. In fact, your OEM may already use or recommend an online parts platform that includes dealership reimbursements based on the incentivized pricing for select parts. Check with your OEM or do your own research to find the right program to adopt for your parts department. For their part, many of the OEMs have adopted an aggressive strategy that allows parts departments to provide competitive pricing on OEM parts to compete against the aftermarket competition.

Why?

The parts business, like everything else, is moving to online sales. However, in response to the growing presence of online parts sales, many dealerships often say that shops and buyers like to call in their orders and speak directly with a person. However, surveys suggest that 1. maybe that’s not entirely true and 2. it’s certainly not the only way repairers are buying parts. Do some shops like to call in their orders? Of course. But even more go online to search for and buy the parts they need. Many shops and buyers start online before they pick up the phone – that is, if they ever make it to calling in an order. In the current eCommerce environment, buyers frequently complete the process entirely online. Online replacement parts sales are a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business and that, if nothing else, shows how many dealers and repairers conduct business online. This is why it’s important – and if you’re here reading this, you already know – that your parts department needs to expand its operations (virtually) to access this large and rapidly growing market.

How?

There isn’t exactly one answer or one way to sell parts online. Some dealers use eBay just to move idle parts and others have multiple platforms that they use throughout the day in order to keep up with demand. That being said, if you’re looking for a way to get started, and one that offers a high success rate, your best choice will probably be to choose a system that provides an online marketplace for collision or mechanical parts. The leading parts sourcing platforms allow shops and buyers in your area to view your inventory online and seamlessly submit parts orders directly to your dealership. Thousands of dealers take this approach to serve countless buyers who use shop-side parts sourcing platforms.

Again, you will want to check and see if your OEM has a recommended platform they encourage their dealers to use. It bears repeating that many OEMs implemented parts pricing programs in recent years in an effort to compete against the aftermarket by providing similar – or even better – parts pricing. In doing so, many provide dealerships with reimbursements for selling select OEM parts. This helps dealership wholesalers offer better prices to buyers while also providing high-quality, reliable OEM parts. It’s good business for the dealership, but it’s a greater opportunity for the repairer to use OEM parts (which they prefer), and, of course, it’s better for the vehicle and the vehicle owner.

Where & When?

You might be thinking, “The first answer is obvious: isn’t it online?” And, yes, it is online, but it’s also within your geographic area, meaning you can expand your parts sales territory to new customers who use the online platform and can now order from your dealership. Parts eCommerce platforms should allow shops in your area to easily find your online inventory and start ordering parts from you. So, yes, online parts sales happen, uh, online… but geographically speaking, eCommerce platforms expand your buyer network by making your parts inventory available online, allowing new shops and buyers to order parts from you when they previously didn’t do business with your team.

That moves us along to “when” can online parts sales happen? This is an easier answer: 24/7. Buyers and repairers can place parts orders with your dealership around the clock. Many parts managers and parts personnel may not know this (especially if you’re not online), but shops often order parts after hours. The right online platform should allow you to receive orders anytime and allow your team to start the day with recently submitted orders to fulfill. This not only expands your sales window but also lets the team hit the ground running every day.

What Else?

Online solutions don’t stop with parts sourcing and sales. There are additional services available to dealerships that can enhance or supplement the standard parts eCommerce solutions and provide even greater revenue and growth opportunities for the department. Here are a few of the more common services that align with the eCommerce programs:

  • · Parts Sales & eCommerce Training – The leading online part sourcing tools are designed to be pretty easy to use, but there are different learning styles, and some people are more tech-savvy than others. Many of the eCommerce providers offer services to help parts departments implement new eCommerce platforms. This usually means a parts sales and eCommerce expert is available for in-person or virtual training, allowing the parts personnel to have an opportunity to get comfortable with the platform while learning some new strategies.
  • Business Intelligence (BI) – In an effort to better understand everything about their parts sales, dealerships often invest in a BI platform that allows them to easily understand their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to parts sales and overall performance. By getting a clear look at the whole picture of their parts sales, parts managers and personnel can adjust sales strategies, engage at-risk customers, and capitalize on opportunities. When paired with parts eCommerce solutions, BI provides all the insights necessary to grow your online business and enhance your parts department.
  • Delivery – As you are aware, many dealerships rely on hot shot deliveries or an internal delivery person. But just like online parts sales, delivery options have evolved into a technology solution that is also available to parts departments. Some parts sourcing and ordering platforms have even integrated an on-demand parts delivery option right into the eCommerce platform. This is just another way for dealerships to meet the needs of their customers and provide a full-service parts sourcing solution.

You have options – but doing nothing is not one of them.

For many dealerships, parts managers, and parts department personnel, eCommerce might be a new approach to the parts business. This means, at least temporarily, moving out of your comfort zone and into some new territory. That’s totally understandable, but there are a few things to think about when considering this next significant step: First, you probably know more about eCommerce than you realize, but you’re used to being on the customer side of things. You know, buying the product – ordering food online, buying clothes, etc. – all the purchasing you already do online without thinking twice about it. When you get into online parts sales, you’re just approaching it from the other direction and you’ll probably pick it up quicker than you realize. The second point is this: the competition is already using – and thriving with – eCommerce solutions. By not embracing online sales, you’re giving away profits without putting up a fight for your customers’ business. That’s why it’s important to understand the impact online sales can have on your dealership and to find an eCommerce solution that will work for your team. If you implement the right solution, you’ll be an eCommerce whiz in no time.

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