It comes as no secret that the traditional aftermarket distribution chain has seen the disruptive effects e-tailing for some time, but a new report by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada provides some important detail about where it’s headed, and its potential impact.
The 52-page report, “What’s in your on-line cart” is the latest in the association’s Consumer Behaviour series and digs into the demographics and habits of the most likely on-line purchasers—much more likely to be men for example—as well as what they are shopping for buying.
While a significant proportion of online activity surrounds vehicle shopping, key findings of interest for aftermarket players include the fact that, among those who purchased vehicle parts or fluids online over the past year, the most common items were motor oil (33%), wiper blades (30%), tires (28%), windshield washer fluid (25%) and brake pads (22%).
The purchase of each of these types of parts has increased since 2016 with the exception of brake pads.
Slightly further down the popularity list of products purchased online includes filters (20%), accessories (14%), spark plugs (13%) and coolant (10%).
From that point, we have a basket of parts made up of items including autobody parts (8%), transmission fluid (6%), belts and tensioners (7%), muffler parts (5%), sensors (4%), lights (2%) and suspension (1%).
A key metric of concern is that the average amount spent online over the past 12-month period on vehicle parts and fluids (among those who have purchased online and provided an estimate) is $489, more than doubling the $220 observed in 2016. Something to watch here.
A caveat for those looking to capitalize on this business though is the fact that half of those making online purchases could not remember the sites they have used in the past, which of course also means that half do remember.
Marketers can therefore choose to see this glass as half full, or half empty.
One consequence of the growth in e-tailing that has unmistakeable challenges, however, is the impact on the Automotive Service Provider’s role in providing the parts for customers. While not a new situation, the evolving e-tailing market does promise to increase the occasions of customer-provided parts that they will see.
“Greater customer independence in purchasing these parts also curtails the technician or service manager’s opportunity to build customer relationships by discussing and advising on parts with their customers,” says the report, and they should take a hard look at shop policies on this practice and “remain ever-vigilant about where their customers are sourcing their parts.”
Visit www.aiacanada.ca to obtain a copy of the report.