Although the automotive digital commerce declined in 2020 due to pandemic, it is coming back with a gradual increase in 2021. To drive more customers to an online store or marketplace, automotive eCommerce site owners should put all their efforts and consider the industry trends, new technologies and best examples, fine-tune their websites for better user experience, and launch marketing activities tailored for their target audience.
Stats behind automotive industry
- Most car buyers begin their journey with searching and comparing dealerships online before making their buying decision. 95% of car buyers research online (Google).
- 33% of the car research time is spent on a mobile device (J.D. Power).
- Users visit 4.2 websites on average before purchasing using multiple devices throughout the process (Cox).
- 60% of users watch a video on YouTube before going to a dealership in person or visit their site (Google).
- 71% of shoppers want to buy a gasoline or diesel, 23% opt for a hybrid model, and 6% consider buying an EV (EY Global).
These stats say that despite a temporary reluctance to online car sales, now the industry is growing. eCommerce car and parts site owners should adopt the best-in-class practices and follow the brightest examples to drive more sales to their marketplaces.
What is the best online car sales site?
Here is a short list of best online car sites according to Investopedia. With these notable features in mind, you can pick up something relevant in your case to add to your site and offer to your visitors:
|Site||Why We Picked It||Notable Features|
|Autotrader||Best Overall||Most listings plus finance and insurance tools|
|CarsDirect||Best Basic Option||Useful buyers guides for car shoppers|
|Hemmings||Best for Classic Cars||Marketplace for classic car parts as well as classic cars|
What are the automotive industry eCommerce trends in 2021
The internet is still a popular place to sell auto parts, used vehicles, and brand-new cars. But, lately new trends appeared that steadily drive the market. Starting from 2015, the automotive industry moves toward on-demand mobility and data-driven services such as shared mobility (car sharing and e-hailing). By 2030, shared mobility is predicted to grow.
Extended reality, a common word for Augmented and Virtual reality, is changing the retail process.
- Audi launched their Audi VR Experience back in 2015. They created a digital “test drive” for shoppers. All the car buyers needed to do was pick up a desired car, put on the VR headset and test the car. Visitors could customize a car of their interest by enabling or disabling features in the demo car: model, color, or trim.
- BMV VR extended their solution with more opportunities allowing users to “play” while driving by pressing the built-in buttons.
- Porsche used VR and AR in the production process to optimize it. Thereafter, they launched Taycan Virtual Experience, where users could explore new models before they appeared on the market.
- Virtual showrooms release customers from the need of visiting the dealership and aggressive sales pressure. Users visualize their car of dream and make the final decision.
EVs and hybrids
Green-minded approach spreads over the world with customers wanting to reduce their footprint on nature. Besides, worries about skyrocketing gas prices make car buyers think more about the impact of the vehicle they buy.
What does that mean for an automotive eCommerce site owner? Think about adding electric or hybrid vehicles to your car fleet or hire vendors who can offer EV/HV for sale.
Applying “green” business strategies for your automotive eCommerce site you can build stronger relationships with customers. If you opt for a green image of your venture, ensure your site clearly covers it! Your dealership uses LED lights or recycled coffee cups. Tell it on your site or invite users to participate in a mission to plant a tree, for example.
3D printers are already in use for printing dummy buildings, organs, body parts, and dental models. Why not to expand your inventory with car accessories printed in 3D. You will be able to offer an exact part for a particular need of a customer. It will be a unique experience and a great engagement for your store that will have a long-lasting effect on your audience.
Running an automotive parts and accessories eCommerce site, you can offer additional items. Can your customers purchase everything on your site? Acquire local customers and improve loyalty by offering visitors all they need in one place: parts, oil, lubricants, service, vehicles, and information about all of it described in a comprehensive manner.
eCommerce automotive site
Having a website is no longer a benefit. But, having a great eCommerce site can help to earn the user loyalty. To make your dealership website or online parts store more convenient for users, think about:
- Clean layouts
- Unique and modern design
- Fine visuals (high-resolution images and impressive color schemes)
- Fast loading website (less than 3 seconds)
- Search bar and filters
- Quick and simple checkout process
- VIN decoder
- Certificates and logos (Google Trusted store, PayPal certified, or OEM logos)
- Different payment methods (PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency)
- Accurate and easy-to-navigate parts catalog
Add more marketing activities to your site. You can offer:
- Discounts for oil change for a purchase $ and above
- Free car wash when customers sign up for the email list
- Coupons for a purchase on your website
- More for less: 4 items for the price of 3, Buy 1, get half off
- Free shipping on orders $ and up
- Free shipping + % off on orders $ and up
Sign up bonus can be used for first time buyers to expand your mailing list. It should be something small without affecting profits. Like 10% off or $5 discount
Discounts can be set on the minimum amount spent in your store, a limited time offer or constantly available for certain auto parts. Discounts can be:
- Standard like 10% off orders over $100;
- Tiers: $5 off orders over $100, $15 – over $150, $25 – over $200,
- Flash sales: 10-15% for all auto parts.
- Discounts on obsolete or overstock items: 20% off
- Future discounts for shoppers who have just purchased from your website.
After sending a Thank You email, you can offer extra discounts for their next purchase. It may sound like Spend $ and get $ off next purchase. Or, Free Shipping on your next purchase.
Make a coupon last a few weeks so that your customers could have time before they need to replace a part.
Chatting is one of the rapidly-growing forms of communication. It can be implemented by chatbots and virtual assistants to speed up the onboarding process for potential customers or improve the Customer Care service.
As more buyers shift to using phones to buy online, having a mobile-friendly website is a must-have. Imagine, a person is working on his/her car in the garage. Suddenly, something goes wrong and a replacement part needs to be bought. Using a phone is much easier to purchase a missing part.
There are multiple options to adopt the mobile approach: from mobile-responsive sites to PWA-enabled stores. It all depends on your budget and the willingness of creating the best shopping experience for your customers. A responsive site is cheap to implement, but does not create a unique experience. Apps are expensive to build. PWA stores are the optimal fit there, as they are not so expensive to build, and create an app-like feeling.
DIY video tutorials
If you want to acquire a fast-growing portion of the automotive market, you should work more with video content. Think about starting a YouTube channel for how-to installation or repair guides. Or, you can ask experts to review the latest car models and connect this link with your eCommerce platform. Visitors who research a specific issue on car repair or wanting to buy a vehicle will more likely find you from a video on YouTube. Embedding a YouTube video improves your SEO, helping more people to find you on the Internet.