Who is my target audience?
As you would with any other business, you’ll have to research your target audience carefully to reach them and cater to their specific needs with your shop. Most car parts shops sell to a mixture of private and trade customers, meaning you can expect to serve both motorists and repair garages.
Here are some of the factors you’ll need to consider if you’re selling to retail customers:
- You’ll have to stock the products that they need. You might consider selling items like de-icer and screen wash. There are two key advantages to selling these products: they run out, so customers will buy them again and again, and customers don’t need advanced mechanical knowledge to use them. This makes them a relatively easy sell.
- You may also look to cater to people who want to buy automobile-related gifts. Care packs and accessories make great gifts, especially for special occasions like Father’s Day when you might choose to stock more of this product than usual. Bumper stickers and air fresheners are affordable items that customers could also be convinced to add to their larger purchases.
- Some private motorists have mechanical skills that allow them to perform services and repairs to their own cars. Your shop could target this audience by selling the parts that they need.
- Other people will contact your shop in an emergency, for example when their battery has failed. You should be conscious of weather conditions where certain products are especially in demand. This way, your shop is equipped to meet your customers’ needs.
- There is also a car modification culture that your business could take advantage of. How do you do this? By offering a range of wheels and tire trims, for example. Those with a strong interest in modifying their car are usually willing to invest significant amounts of money in these projects. That could mean high-ticket sales for your business.
- When targeting retail customers, it’s important to consider convenience. If you’re selling online, you should choose platforms that are easy to use and familiar to the general public. Your store location should be in a prominent place to maximise foot traffic and attract shoppers from the street.
The market for selling replacement parts is lucrative. This is good news as it shows there is high demand for the products you’ll be selling. However, you’ll also face a lot of competition from other car parts stores.
Selling car parts to trade customers is known as “factoring.” For that reason, some people choose to start a franchise rather than build their business from scratch. They benefit from the infrastructure and the reputation of a pre-existing company.
A good idea is to perform some research about the repair garages in your local area. You might consider contacting them to ask who provides their car parts. Remember, your clients aren’t limited to garages, though. You could also sell to used car dealers.
To attract trade customers, you’ll have to offer competitive prices, whether you plan to sell to small garages or large chains. You may choose to target exclusively trade customers or you may choose to target a mix of trade and retail. This will have a big influence on the products that you stock.
Different services to provide
The best way to differentiate your service from the competition and attract new customers is to ensure that your shop provides a wide range of in-demand services. This also helps you beat the online competition: some services can only be provided face-to-face.
Here are five popular services that you might consider offering at your car parts shop:
Why doesn’t everyone just order parts online? Because many people aren’t confident enough in their car knowledge to do so. They need expert guidance: what part is the problem? What part do I need? Is this the right fit for my vehicle?
If the people at your shop are qualified to answer these questions, it can attract customers. The goal is to win the trust of your customers so they immediately think of you when they need car parts.
Free delivery is especially important for trade customers. They’re understandably keen to cut costs so they can increase their profit margins as much as possible. You could attract new customers away from competitors who still charge for delivery services.
Of course, delivery can be improved in other ways too. If you’re able to deliver very quickly, for example, this is another attractive feature. When trade customers order parts, they may need them urgently. Your shop could be the one to source and deliver them straight away.
Not every customer has the know-how to handle their services and repairs. If you want to expand your market beyond expert motorists and target the general public, you could offer a fitting service.
Many customers will undoubtedly appreciate the fact that they can buy a part and have it fitted in the same place. This makes your car parts shop a more convenient and efficient option than competitors that lack this service.
When your customers are deciding which shop to buy from, the price will be an important factor. The level of service that you offer will also be important. Most people don’t want to waste more time than strictly necessary buying and installing car parts. This is why some shops offer while-you-wait services.
Thanks to this service, customers don’t have to leave their car overnight at your shop. They can simply grab a coffee and wait as you work on their vehicle. Making this a pleasant and smooth experience can make a huge difference to customer satisfaction levels.
Ordering in parts
What happens if you don’t have the part that a customer needs? Maybe it is out of stock or maybe you never stocked it in the first place. The last thing you want to do is send them to a competitor’s shop to buy it. Instead, you could offer to order it in for them.
If you’re able to order in parts on behalf of your customers and receive them quickly, this could impress customers. It shows a willingness to go the extra mile that could give you an edge over your competition.
Different online platforms
The advantage of using pre-existing platforms is that you benefit from the infrastructure that they already have in place. You don’t need to set up payment systems; you simply open an account and add your products.
You can also benefit from their trusted reputation and in-built payment protection. Your customers probably already know and use these platforms, so they’ll feel comfortable buying items there.
If you have your own website, you’ll rely on customers who either know about your service already or stumble across it through search engines. On pre-existing platforms like Amazon and eBay, people with no knowledge of your shop can search for the products they need and discover your service.
Three of the most popular ways to sell car parts are via your own eCommerce store, using eBay, or through Amazon Marketplace. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. However, you don’t necessarily need to choose between them. You might decide to use all three in a bid to maximise your sales!
One great aspect of eBay is that it protects sellers by managing payments securely. To get started selling car parts and accessories on eBay, you first need to create a seller account. This is different from your buyer account!
When you click sell at the top of the account setup page, you’ll be taken to a product listing page. This is where you upload information and images related to your items. Each image needs at least one image.
Any old image won’t do. You need a clear image with a white or grey background so customers can see the product clearly. This platform enforces certain requirements when it comes to image quality. Observe these carefully so your listings remain active and attractive to potential customers.
On eBay, the way you categorise your product is essential. Choose “eBay Motors” and “Parts and Accessories.” This way, you’ll reach an audience that’s interested in your items.
As you continue through the process, you’ll be given opportunities to describe your product using specific categories. This makes it easier for people to search for this product.
To buy a car part with confidence, customers need to know it’s suitable for their vehicle. Make sure you add accurate fitment data that helps them assess compatibility. eBay has its own Parts Compatibility tool to guide you through the addition of fitment data. This is useful for customers and sellers alike!
Of course, to enjoy the benefits of eBay you have to pay certain fees. Expect to be charged a listing fee when you add your product and a final value fee when you sell it.
You might also choose to sell car parts on Amazon Marketplace. Amazon is the world’s biggest eCommerce platform, after all! This opens up a huge potential market for your products.
To get started, you’ll need to create a Seller Central account. To sell car parts, you’ll need to be a Professional Seller. Car parts is a protected category on Amazon, so there are additional restrictions you need to meet to start selling. There is a monthly fee to subscribe to the Professional plan.
Your listings will have to meet certain standards to be successfully published on Amazon. For example, there are strict product image requirements. Natural lighting and a white background are essential. If you’re unsure about meeting these standards, you might consider hiring a professional to take your photographs.
To sell car parts, you also need approval from Amazon. Amazon will check that all your listings and images are compliant with their standards. To successfully list your products, you’ll need to list all major brands with their universal product codes, for example.
Once you think your listings are compliant, you can complete the “Contact us” form online to request approval from Amazon. Expect to wait three business days for a response. The platform will either approve you or ask for additional information.
One advantage of Amazon is that they have seller tools designed to make it easier to upload products in bulk. This uses Excel or an inventory file template to transfer information straight to your store.
Just like on eBay, fitment data is important. Amazon won’t show your listings unless they have sufficient fitment data. This ensures customers receive the right parts, helping you avoid time-consuming returns and negative reviews!
Once you’ve set up your online store, it’s time to start promoting it. Depending on the platform you’ve chosen, you have a range of options available. You might choose to post about your page in relevant Facebook groups, for example. This is free to do.
If your business has a social media presence, you can also promote particular products this way. This doesn’t cost, which is an advantage; however, it will only reach people that already follow you. To extend your reach beyond this audience, you might choose to pay to promote your products.
Both eBay and Amazon offer options for promoting your listings. By paying a fee, you can expose your products to a wider audience. You’ll be able to target specific people based on the keywords that they search for.
There are a wide range of digital marketing options to get your car parts business in front of more potential customers. Google Ads are especially effective and can help your business to appear in relevant terms: e.g ‘car parts shop near me’. There is an auction process involved in using this service. Social media advertising on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram ensure your products appear on the feeds of people who have shown interest in similar products. You can tailor the adverts to certain demographics to increase their effectiveness.
Managing online business reputation
Reputation is incredibly important when it comes to an online store. If you have negative reviews, this could deter potential customers from making a purchase. To avoid this, you should provide as much accurate information as possible in every product listing.
Don’t make promises you’re unable to keep. Ensure you meet delivery times and advise customers in advance if you experience any unexpected delays. You might choose to take action when you anticipate a negative review and offer a discount or a gift to smooth the situation over.
If you’ve received a negative review, don’t ignore it. Instead, respond publicly and be both honest and apologetic. Otherwise, your business might appear unprofessional.
Positive feedback can make a big difference. You might encourage customers to leave feedback when you’re confident that the review will be positive. This can reassure future customers that your company is trustworthy and reliable.