Automotive Ecommerce Golden Age: Why The Online Aftermarket Is A Hit With Buyers

Learn which ecommerce automotive features are most popular with customers, and how to implement them on your site.

By Vanessa Loughty | June 30, 2023



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Over the past several years, automotive ecommerce has experienced a spike in popularity, with the auto aftermarket (including automotive product categories like Transmission & Steering, Electrical Parts, and accessories) scoring huge growth. Already valued at $120 billion per year globally, sales for this segment are estimated to rise approximately 300% to $350 billion by decade’s end. COVID-era disruptions made shopping for vehicles and parts in person more challenging for consumers and auto-related businesses, inspiring shoppers to turn to great online automotive solutions in droves. In this blog, we’ll look at why auto ecommerce is on the rise and what benefits it offers consumers. 

The Spark: COVID-19 and Supply Chain Complexities 

Pandemic-era supply chain issues and shortages made shopping for vehicles and auto parts in physical stores a significant challenge for all types of shoppers, including shortages, up-charges, and long wait times for orders. As a result, a massive shift occurred towards automotive ecommerce solutions, which made finding and securing scarce products at affordable prices more practical. Starting in 2020, a shocking 30% of all new vehicles were purchased online. Just one year earlier, that number was only 2%. Around the same time, overall automotive B2B sales grew 200% faster than D2C sales. In the B2B automotive aftermarket, digital sales now account for 11% of all orders, indicating enormous growth potential as businesses catch up with online demand.

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The Fuel: Advancements in Ecommerce Tools 

The digital sales revolution brought new, uniquely relevant shopping features to auto industry shoppers, who had previously been consigned to dealerships and brick-and-mortar auto supply chains for their buying needs. These modern automotive ecommerce innovations set the stage for this decade’s success by making online automotive shopping much easier, vastly more efficient, and more appealing to buyers:  

  • Advanced search options: When it comes to sorting through countless thousands of products specific to every make and model of vehicle, smart, faceted search allows shoppers to find the right products easily. For sellers with tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of SKUs, tools like advanced search and complex site menus/organization are essential for highlighting products. Product fitment data can hone search results to match the right products with the right vehicle—creating a more personalized and relevant experience for shoppers. 
  • Product merchandising and visualization tools: Independent sellers who want to compete with giant auto brands and chain retailers need to find increasingly innovative ways to connect with shoppers. Allowing site visitors to explore products visually, such as viewing vehicles and parts in 3D, comparing models side-by-side, and seeing products in real-life settings, can make an independent store’s products stand out in a sea of competition. We explore the power of product visualizers here.
  • Personalized shopping experience and recommendations: The more customized an ecommerce experience is for an individual shopper’s preferences and needs, the more relevant and valuable that experience will be for them. Advanced recommendation tools can draw upon customers' browsing and purchasing histories to help sculpt the shopping experience, including account-based details like price groups/pre-negotiated pricing/terms which save B2B buyers’ time while driving more conversions. We looked at more ways for retail aftermarket sellers to successfully compete in this blog.
  • Seamless checkout and payment processes: Well-designed ecommerce sites can make the entire transaction friction-free, fast, and intuitive. For B2B buyers who are accustomed to conventional ordering verbally via phone, a fast and smooth checkout experience constitutes a substantial improvement, one that creates loyalty and drives more sales. 
  • Sophisticated branding and marketing content: Next-level page creation and content management tools are making it easier for everyday merchants to develop very compelling marketing and promotions turning on a dime. For buyers, this means more relevant sales presentations and a faster path to the aftermarket products they need. 

    We outlined a detailed list of automotive ecommerce features which connect with customers the most here.

The Future: Continued Growth for Auto Sellers Who Offer Modern Shopping Experiences 

These types of features have proven lucrative for big sellers with a strong online presence like Pep Boys, which has just posted $100 million dollars in revenue from its ecommerce site. Now, modern ecommerce tools can also be adopted by independent merchants in the aftermarket at any scale. The efficiency and effectiveness of ecommerce UI/UX tools can level the playing field for smaller businesses, by increasing the quality of user experiences without increasing expenses. By specifically embracing features which make customers’ shopping experiences more convenient and engaging, businesses can capitalize on the growing popularity of selling auto parts and products online.

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About The Author

Katy Ellquist

Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.

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Vanessa Loughty

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