Selling online can be overwhelming.  There are so many choices and moving parts to consider.  But no matter what you do, here are some essential survival tips for selling aftermarket parts online.

MAP Pricing

Minimum Advertised Price (or MAP) will make or break your store. Some brands will assign a minimum price that you can sell at. It makes the pricing consistent no matter where the parts are sold.  It’s similar to what you see with a new iPhone model. You’ve probably noticed that there isn’t a lot of variation between stores when a new model is released. They all seem to have the same price. This is MAP pricing. It preserves the perceived value of the brand and ensures profit along the supply chain. If any store sells below this price they risk being blacklisted, unable to sell those products any more.

So let’s say you sell BELOW MAP.

This becomes tricky because most stores have automated pricing set up. The store owner might not even know that they are selling below MAP until they get a “Do Not Sell” letter in their inbox. Make sure that your store is enforcing the rules and not allowing products to drop below MAP pricing.

This applies to Web Stores and Marketplaces alike. It doesn’t matter which you are using, MAP pricing must be enforced.

Product Data Quality

We’re in the pioneer days of online shopping. Most people don’t realize that anyone can set up their own online store. But that’s what’s happening now.  Likewise, most manufacturers still don’t know how to create high quality product data for online selling.  The ACES and PIES data formats are a good step forward but we still face the following problems.

– No product images
– Product images that are way too big and hurt SEO
– Brand logos or Prop65 images instead of images that show the product
– Terse product descriptions
– Product descriptions that talk about the company instead of the product
– Titles that don’t describe the product

These strategies are proven in dealing with data quality issues.

  1.  Set up a test store and a live store. The test store is hidden and seen by only the store owner. The live store is what everyone sees and is polished. Use the test store to preview new brands before putting them in the live store. If they look like garbage, don’t put them in the live store.
  2. Clean the data yourself. Some problems can be fixed easily by Excel or an automated process. For example, some brands will include a logo image for every product they sell. This looks very bad in a store because it shows a lot of products with a logo image instead of the products. It’s hard to tell what the customer is buying. An automated process can strip out these images, leaving the good ones in place.
  3. Report the issues back to the brand. This won’t provide an immediate fix but it’s important to tell them that there are problems with their data. If they want to sell their products, they’ll take your feedback seriously. Once it’s fixed you can import the products into your store.

Fitment

The way we search for auto parts is fundamentally different than a regular store that sells electronics, pet food, clothing, etc. In a way it is completely backward. For example, let’s say you are shopping for shoes. You typically start with the type of shoe then narrow it down to size. From there you might pick a color, then press the order button.

Automotive is very different. Instead, we start with the ‘size’ and work backward. Specifically, we start with the year, make, and model of vehicle that I have. So if I am looking for parts for a 2015 Ford F-150 I shouldn’t see Kia, Dodge, or Lexus parts on my screen. After choosing the fitment, a customer will typically go to the category…engine parts, electronics, performance parts, etc. to narrow the list of parts down further.

The store needs to live and breathe fitment. Each product needs to know what vehicles it fits and the store needs to give the customer a way to filter by fitment. Furthermore, when building a specialty store you’ll need a way to curate the products by fitment as well. The ACES and PIES brand data you receive will have parts for a wide variety of vehicles. If it is a truck store, there shouldn’t be motorbike and sedan parts loaded into the store because it just doesn’t make sense.

There you have it.  Good luck and happy selling!

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