Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, online shopping has reached heights previously unheard of. In 2020, the auto parts eCommerce industry grew to approximately $16 billion in revenue – an increase of a whopping 30% compared to 2019. By 2023, this market is expected to hit over $22 billion. Amazon is the largest car parts online retailer in the world – it commands over two-thirds of the aftermarket industry on the internet. It is no wonder that people are increasingly trying to find out how to sell auto parts on Amazon.
Visiting brick and mortar stores or salvage yard explorations are things of the past. Today, it is all about online sales, the convenience of ordering from home and having the right vehicle parts delivered to your doorstep.
Before you dive into the world of online parts retailers, you need to familiarize yourself with the basics.
Deciding On the Type of Parts
In the automotive aftermarket business, there are two product types you have the option to sell. On Amazon, some are easier to sell than others.
- OEM parts – OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Unlike OE (Original Equipment) parts directly from the vehicle manufacturer, OEM parts are produced by a company approved and licensed by the original manufacturer to supply parts for that specific vehicle. OE parts can be called genuine parts, and OEM is replacement parts. They are still high-quality parts and are more sought after than OE parts because they are less expensive.
- Third-party parts – Third-party sellers are not authorized by any vehicle brand to manufacture parts for them. Nevertheless, the third-party market on Amazon is incredibly competitive. If you’re not in the business of OEM parts, you will have to work hard to distinguish yourself among other third-party retailers. Your prices will need to be competitive, and your supply chain has to be top-notch to get ahead of the game and possibly win a spot in the Amazon Buy Box.
Additionally, there is no ‘used parts’ category on Amazon. Instead, when trading with used parts, you will need to use the ‘refurbished’ section. And even those parts need to include a warranty.
Setting Up an Account
Logic dictates that you cannot sell on Amazon without owning an Amazon account. As a retailer, you need to sign up with Seller Central. The Automotive & Powersports category is restricted on Amazon, so you will need a Professional Seller plan to access it. The Professional plan subscription costs $39.99 a month.
However, money is not the only obstacle on the road to selling parts on the Amazon marketplace. A potential auto parts seller also needs to get Amazon’s approval to sell any parts, accessories, tools, or equipment in the Automotive & Powersports category.
This approval has to go through Amazon’s Contact Us form. You need to fill it in with all the relevant information. Amazon’s response usually arrives within three business days – they will either approve you or request additional information. The good news is that most new retailers report getting approved without any issues.
Compiling Fitment Data
High-quality fitment data should be at the core of every automotive parts retailer store. Vehicle fitment represents information about a part – where that part fits, in what vehicles, etc. All the search tools and options in online marketplaces are powered by fitment data. This information is what ensures that the customers buy and receive the right part.
Fortunately, Amazon has its own catalogs that you can incorporate into your fitment information. You won’t be required to provide your own if the parts you’re selling are already in Amazon’s catalog.
However, there might be a handful of parts that are missing. This is usually the case with custom-made components and accessories. If that happens, you will need to enter the data manually. You can purchase this data from a fitment data provider, or you can find it yourself through research.
Regardless of which way you decide to go, there are three defining characteristics that useful fitment data must have:
- Accuracy – Inaccurate fitment info leads to customers receiving the wrong parts. That is not good for them, and also not good for your business. Inaccurate data can cause overall customer dissatisfaction, negative feedback, and a nosedive of your brand’s reputation.
- Completeness – Incomplete data means that a buyer won’t find what they need in your store. Because you’re missing information they’re looking for, they will quickly click away and turn to a competitor who might have more complete fitment data.
- The Right Format – Every online marketplace requests fitment data to be submitted in the right format. Before you submit yours to Amazon, make sure to review their conditions and format standards.
Maintaining Fitment Data
Putting together the right data is only the first step in the process. Because vehicles are continually entering and exiting the market, changes in fitment data happen often. It would be best to review and update your inventory at least once a month to keep it relevant to the demands of the auto parts market.
Amazon uses the Vehicle Configuration database developed by the Auto Care Association as its primary source of vehicle information. The VCdb is updated once a month, and your auto parts store data should be updated with it. It is a time-consuming process but one that will prevent your data from spoiling and keep your customers happy and coming back to purchase again.
You should keep in mind that if a customer cannot find a part of their specific vehicle, they will look for parts from other vehicles that can fit into theirs. For maximum completeness, your data should also contain a list of compatible vehicles or parts so that visitors can easily search through their interchangeability options.
This aspect of fitment data is not easy to manage, mainly because most vehicles share parts with at least one other model or make. Wherever possible, try to include a part number and other compatibility information such as photos and fitment details. The VCdb should have all the necessary data, though you can always supplement it with your own additional research.
Other Online Sales Channels
Even though Amazon is currently the most prominent online marketplace, it certainly isn’t the only one. There are three other online platforms you can make use of – in fact, successful businesses aren’t limited only to one space.
- eBay – Setting up an eBay store on eBay Motors is also a good option, especially if you are a third-party seller. The eBay Motor platform is a separate section of eBay dedicated entirely to cars, other vehicle types, and their components.
- Walmart – An unexpected sales channel but one still worthy of mention is Walmart. It may not have the same customer base as Amazon and eBay, but it could significantly boost your auto parts sales business.
- Your Website – A business website can only help your store in the long run. It legitimizes your business in the eyes of Amazon and your customers while also offering a neat place where they can learn more about each product. (And your brand as a whole.) It’s much more personable to direct your customers to your website than limit them to Amazon’s pages.
Each one of these options requires a different format of fitment data and a slightly different approach. Make sure to thoroughly review the requirements for each before you decide to branch out.
While selling auto parts on Amazon may seem like an easy feat initially, it’s not exactly a walk in the park. Before you even sign up, you need to set up the foundations of your business – your business model, types of parts you will sell, your supply chain, etc. Then you can move on to setting up your Amazon account.
The Automotive & Powersports category on Amazon is restricted, meaning you must pay a monthly subscription fee. You will also need to get approved by Amazon to start the sales process. Your fitment data should be accurate, complete, and in the right format, and you shouldn’t forget about compatibility data.
Even though you have decided to invest in selling on Amazon, don’t overlook the other internet sales channels. A business website, eBay Motors, and Walmart could also be great platforms to expand your store.
Need some help in setting up your Amazon store? Contact myFitment for more information – we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about growing your auto parts business!