People who are a part of the auto parts industry from those that sell to those that buy are feeling good about auto parts sales as a whole. One reason why sales are so good is because of online purchases. Auto part sales at brick and mortar stores rose only 1.5 percent over 2013.
“We’re seeing customers becoming more sophisticated in their buying habits. Previously only the mechanically inclined could buy online because they knew what to buy. They rest had to get help. Today a consumer can quickly become educated on something like brake pad formulations and make an informed purchase – never having to speak to anyone,” said Dara Greaney, CEO of BuyAutoParts.com.
The sales increase online has been a continuous phenomenon year to year. In fact, aftermarket online sales of auto parts reached $5 billion last year. That is a 16 percent increase over 2013 when sales totaled $4.3 billion. Moreover, 2013 sales over 2012 were up 16 percent. Analysts say that this trend will last for the next several years. Hedges & Company, an automotive market research and digital marketing agency, predicts that there will be sales increases between 13 percent and 14 percent each year for the next several years. Online sales are expected to top off at $6.5 billion in 2016.
The numbers achieved does not include online auction sales. If considered, total online sales would have been dramatically increased.
As mentioned, sales for traditional brick and mortar stores were lagging compared to online sales. In 2013 sales month-to-month were dismal. However, the last quarter of the year proved to be positive. The fourth quarter boost was somewhat due to a harsh winter, which caused a greater demand for replacement items like electrical or exhaust parts.
Perhaps the star of online auto parts is Amazon. It is now the online industry leader in auto parts and accessories sales. Amazon’s numbers are encouraging other online auto parts stores to enhance their websites in order to compete. These stores are also getting aggressive by using SEO and PPC marketing programs.
eBay sells auto parts online and it has been growing significantly. Industry analysts project that it sells 550,000 to 575,000 auto parts and accessories each week.
Although it is true that today’s automobiles are very sophisticated with onboard computers and sensors that make do-it-yourself repairs somewhat tricky, there are energetic and smart DIY’ers out there who still tinker with their cars in their parents’ garages. A report published in 2011 boasted that 48 percent of owners are more likely to repair their own cars using the web.
There are as many as 25 repair jobs that a DIY’er can do on his own including replacing air and fuel filters, spark plugs, windshield wipers, headlight bulbs, brake pads, brake discs, fuses, relays, batteries, seat belts and their retractors, window belt strips, tire valve stems, serpentine belts, tires, thermostats, radiator hoses, and washer tanks.
The traditional parts stores that generations of DIY Americans have been frequenting since the 1950s are still around. Today you can also find them online. These include Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, O’reilly, Pep Boys and more.
There are also a plethora of just online auto parts merchants like BuyAutoParts.com. Using a business plan more like Amazon than Pep Boys, these companies may be able to offer more parts at a lower price.
Now DIY’ers have options. They can research and buy auto parts from a traditional brick and mortar store or online merchant.
The traditionalist who wants to make his research and buying activity a social event will probably enjoy going to the traditional store and talk shop with the salespeople. DIY’ers who are more concerned with finishing their project would probably want to go online. BuyAutoParts.com is a good example of how you can shop from the comfort of your home. Inventory is broken down by type of part or car manufacturer. The website is easy to navigate. So you can log on, find and buy what you want and log off, then continue with your project.
There are a number of websites that deal with shopping for auto parts online. For example, check out How Online Auto Parts Buyers Shop for Parts and Accessories discusses a recent Hedges & Company study of online auto parts buyers and how they research and buy products. In addition, you may want to watch a video that teaches you how to buy online.