Selling Auto Parts Online: How to Choose the Best eCommerce Platform
If you read our recent article where we provided a comprehensive list of auto parts eCommerce solutions to sell your parts online, we wouldn’t be surprised if your head was still spinning. There are a lot of auto parts website builders and solutions out there — that’s why we’re following up with a guide on how to choose the best platform to sell your auto parts — to help you narrow it down. In the following guide, we’ll cover the most important factors to consider when deciding on the right platform for your business. So, without further ado, let’s get down to it and give you some quick and actionable tips to get your automotive eCommerce store off the ground.
Is Your Platform Customizable?
Perhaps the most important question to ask when considering any platform is if you can customize it. In other words, can you make the site YOURS? User experience (also known as UX in marketing circles) is one of the most important factors when it comes to the success or failure of any website. Granted, UX has a lot to with how your site performs but it also has to do with the way it looks. Let’s face it: if your site looks like it was designed in 1999 there’s simply no way you’re going to successfully sell your parts on it.
So, how can you make a good impression? Clearly, you want a design and aesthetic that is clean and modern with a professional design that will add implicit authority to your site and gain the trust of your potential customers. However, if the platform you choose uses the same template and color palettes for all of their customers, how will yours stand out from the crowd.
The ability to quickly make changes yourself is something worth considering simply due to its immense power to differentiate your brand. That’s why you should be wary of many shopping cart providers who don’t offer such on-the-fly customization and require you to submit tickets to have these elements updated for you. In brief, if you’re comfortable making such changes in house, it’s always the better way to go.
How Is the Customer Experience throughout the Sales Funnel?
We briefly mentioned UX above but it’s so important that we need to devote a whole section on it.
Clearly, it’s no stretch to assume that a customer who has had a poor experience on your website most likely won’t be coming back if you make the sale at all and may very well abandon the cart altogether.
When considering all your options, it’s very important to ask your auto carts eCommerce solution candidates for a live demo. You should also look at other dealer and auto parts sellers’ pages that are using that shopping cart to get an idea of the experience for yourself.
When evaluating a solution, you should recall that the more clicks it takes for a customer to find and purchase a part, the more likely they are to abandon the sale. In addition to navigability, how is the site’s speed? Does it take forever to load a page? And, once it does load, is it easy to confirm that you’ve found the part or accessory you need? In short, not only is a good experience crucial to make the sale but search engines such as Google and Bing use things like sell-through rates, dwell time and page-speed to determine your ranking in their pages.
Is Your Platform Optimized for Mobile?
At this point, it almost seems like you shouldn’t have to ask but there are still some carts that haven’t caught up. Just how important is it that your site is mobile-friendly? Well, according to one recent study, searches originating from mobile devices accounted for 58% of the total visits to all sites. Clearly, when over half of all site visits are taking place on a tablet or smartphone, you can’t afford to choose an automotive eCommerce platform that isn’t mobile-ready.
One final point to consider is that search algorithms now give a higher priority to mobile optimized websites. In other words, your online auto parts business could be left in the dust if you choose the wrong eCommerce solution. Be sure to check sites that are using any potential platform with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page before you make any decision — the risks are too great not to!
What about Website Downtime?
Question: How can you sell auto parts when your website is down?
Answer: You can’t.
Shopping cart downtime cuts into your profits, reduces the trust customers place in your company and downtime can even hurt your page rank in Google’s SERPs. In short, in order to succeed in online selling, you need to partner with a solution that is reliable and trustworthy.
Ideally, when choosing an auto parts ecommerce website builder, you want to pick one that notifies you of downtime in real time. In addition, you want to ensure that historical uptime is no less than 99%.
What is the Quality of Customer Support?
Now that we’ve brought up site downtime, it only stands to reason that you inquire about the closely related issue of customer support. Whether it’s something catastrophic like site-wide 404s, an inaccessible CDN or if you run into simple problems with setting up your online storefront, you’ll want someone to go for personalized and effective support.
A strong support team that moves quickly and is responsive is a must-have in today’s competitive auto parts eCommerce market space. You simply can’t afford to be stuck with an eCommerce solution that takes weeks to respond to a single question.
Naturally, every shopping cart platform will tell you that they offer great support but the only way to be sure is by doing your own research. What do we mean? Get list of clients from your prospective platform and call them up to ask about their experiences with customer support. That way you’ll know before it’s too late if their claims hold any water.
Can You Customize the Prices of the Auto Parts You Sell?
Whether you base your pricing on an added percentage over the cost, a little bit under list or you are selling under the terms of a MAP agreement, most sites force you to choose one pricing system and stick to it.
Unfortunately, if you choose such a platform, you could end up losing money hand over fist. A better option, and one that you’ll want to ask about before committing to a solution, is to create a pricing table (also known as a pricing matrix). This is a simple and powerful way to make sure your prices are balanced. Otherwise, more expensive parts may be listed at astronomical prices while your cheaper auto parts and accessories are priced too low to be profitable.
Does the Solution Integrate with Tools You’re Already Using?
Choosing a new eCommerce platform to sell your auto parts online can be stressful enough so why add to the already steep learning curve by having to learn a bunch of new tools as well. If you’re already using some online tools to fulfill orders or reach customers, it only makes sense to pick an eCommerce platform that integrates well with what you’re already doing. And be forewarned: some eCommerce providers may charge more for integration of tools you’re currently using so clear this up at the start
Is the Platform and Payment Gateway Secure?
Fraud, identity theft and stolen credit card numbers are big news lately so it’s no wonder that customers are wary of shopping online. In order for customers to trust you with their credit card information, you need to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to reassure them and that you have done your homework about your potential platform. How secure their system? Do they have a history of security breaches? If you find any unflattering information about an eCommerce solution, it’s best to move on to the next as the potential damage to your business is just too great.
One great feature to consider in a shopping cart platform is a tokenized payment system. These systems replace the customer’s credit card number with a randomly generated number (i.e., a token) so that their info is safe. Platforms using tokens don’t actually store credit card numbers so, even in the event of a breach, hackers would find no numbers to steal.
A final consideration to make is that your solution integrates with well-known payment processors. In other words, can you easily integrate PayPal, Authorize.net, WePay or CenPos? If not, keep looking.
Does the Cart Offer Fraud Protection?
Does the platform offer any protection from fraud? Fraudulent orders can result in huge losses for you in terms of lost revenue and can even result in being blacklisted by payment gateways. Unfortunately, many eCommerce solutions leave you to figure it out for yourself so it’s imperative that you know how to recognize the tell-tales signs of fraud before it happens. And while it’s always important to know and follow good fraud prevention practices, it only makes sense to ask if the eCommerce car parts provider offers anything to help you spot and prevent fraud.
How Are Shipping Costs Calculated?
The cost of shipping is one of the primary costs for online retailers both big and small and it’s no secret that auto parts retailers have it the worst. Calculating shipping costs for oversized, heavy and hazardous auto parts can seem almost impossible without a truly customized solution and many eCommerce platforms use a price-based system to determine shipping costs — something which is completely useless when you ship heavy auto part with low list prices.
How Much Will the Platform Cost?
The cost that you’re willing to pay will naturally depend on your budget but that doesn’t mean you should always choose the least expensive solution. It makes sense to pay a bit more for a more reliable and robust platform as a better site will drive more sales and result in more profit. Be wary of sites that take a high percentage of sales (from 5 to 10%) as they can be a serious drain on your profitability if you gain traction.
In short, you really do get what you pay for and the price should be just one among the other considerations we covered above when you’re looking for either an aftermarket auto parts eCommerce solution or an OEM auto parts eCommerce solution.
If you need an auto parts marketing agency to help you navigate through both the selection and on-boarding process for your auto parts eCommerce website — OEM Interactive has you covered. Contact us today!