The biggest challenge you have as you enter the motorcycle marketplace is differentiating yourself from the competition. But because the motorcycle industry is vast and has niche markets, finding a place where you will thrive and gain a reputation as a reliable source for motorcycle parts is achievable.
In this guide, we will help you find your niche by discussing the different types of motorcycle parts and the specific market they attract. We will also give you tips on making your motorcycle parts business better.
Understanding the Different Types of Motorcycle Parts
When we talk about the different types of motorcycle parts, we’re not referring to transmissions, engines, wheels, brakes, instruments, and so on. In the buying and selling of motorcycle parts, type refers to the source or manufacturer of the motorcycle parts. You will see three primary types of motorcycle parts for sale: OEM, aftermarket, and used.
What are OEM motorcycle parts?
OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEM motorcycle parts and accessories are made by the original bike manufacturer. Some of the biggest brands in the motorcycle world are Harley Davidson, Ducati, Yamaha, etc. OEM parts are brand new and come in branded packaging.
The Pros and Cons of Selling OEM Parts
There is a niche market of motorcycle owners that prefer to buy OEM parts because they believe it maintains the value of their bike. They’re willing to pay top dollar for all-original parts that come straight from their motorcycle’s manufacturer. Also, using a non-OEM part may void their bike’s warranty and lower the bike’s value. Fitment or compatibility also won’t be an issue because the part has already been established to be a perfect fit for their bike.
OEM parts also come with a warranty. Because premium brands put their products through rigorous testing to ensure health, safety, and performance, they stand by their products and offer a product guarantee.
The problem with OEM bike parts are price and availability. As with most products across all industries, a part that carries a brand name, particularly a premium brand, will come with a comparably bigger price tag. The price doesn’t always mean that it is superior in function and performance. However, many consumers gain peace of mind when they buy a brand that they can trust.
Availability is also an issue with OEM parts because you can only buy them directly from the original manufacturer or its authorized distributors. If a customer is getting their bike repaired at an independent shop and insists on OEM parts, the mechanic needs to order the part from the manufacturer. Processing of order and delivery times may delay how soon the bike gets fixed.
What are Aftermarket Motorcycle Parts?
Aftermarket motorcycle parts are not to be confused with counterfeit parts or faked products. Aftermarket parts are made by third party manufacturers that are allowed to make motorcycle parts because their products comply with health, safety, and quality regulations. Aftermarket parts are not connected with the original maker of the motorcycle. They also do not carry the branding of the original brand.
The Pros and Cons of Selling Aftermarket Motorcycle Parts
Aftermarket motorcycle parts are cheaper than OEM parts, making them attractive to motorcycle owners who are looking for the best deals and don’t worry about branding. But while they are cheaper, they are not inferior versions of the original. In many cases, aftermarket parts surpass the original in quality and performance. This is because aftermarket parts manufacturers reverse-engineer the original to work out its flaws and weaknesses. They then build their own version, improving on the original’s design to achieve better form and function.
Aftermarket parts are also more appealing to bike owners that like to customize their motorcycles. Aftermarket parts manufacturers also make versions of the parts in colors not produced by the original. Because of the booming aftermarket parts industry, finding a supplier is also easier. As a motorcycle parts seller, establishing relationships with reliable suppliers is one of the keys to success.
The downside of aftermarket motorcycle parts is that they don’t typically come with a warranty. Also, not all aftermarket parts are created equal. There are high quality aftermarket manufacturers and poor-quality aftermarket parts on the market.
What are Used Motorcycle Parts?
Used motorcycle parts can mean a few things. A used motorcycle part may be an original part taken from a bike that no longer runs. The part taken from a motorcycle to be sold as a used part would be considered a used OEM part. However, there are also used aftermarket parts. These are aftermarket parts that were used on a bike but later removed once the bike stopped functioning or was sold for parts.
The Pros and Cons of Selling Used Motorcycle Parts
Depending on the used part, used parts are typically the cheapest out of all the types of motorcycle parts. By becoming a reliable seller of used parts, you would be attracting a massive market of motorcycle owners who are looking to save money on their bike repairs.
However, if the part is vintage and rare, it may be more expensive than a brand-new OEM part. There is a niche market of serious buyers that hunt for used parts, particularly if they come from vintage motorcycles that are no longer in production. Used parts are ideal for classic motorcycle restoration projects because they keep the motorcycle as vintage and as close to the original as possible.
The problem with only focusing on selling used motorcycle parts is that they’re not as available as OEM or aftermarket parts. Therefore, you would either need a reliable source of used parts or to have personally amassed a collection of used parts over the years.
How to Start Selling Motorcycle Parts
If you’re already a motorcycle enthusiast who owns their own bike or bikes, getting started in the motorcycle parts industry will be easier. You probably already know motorcycle jargon and terms that will help when communicating with prospective buyers. Beyond knowing the lingo, you also need to understand the complexities of the market and what it takes to thrive in the marketplace. Here are some things you need to do before you are ready to sell:
Check Out the Competition
Scoping out the competition can help you improve your services and gain a better reputation as a reliable source of motorcycle parts. Before you start selling your bike parts, you need to know what others in the industry are doing right and what they are doing wrong.
Just as the aftermarket industry reverse-engineers original parts, you will need to analyze the existing motorcycle parts industry to understand how they operate and how you can make your business better. Do they cover the shipping cost for purchases that reach a certain amount? Do they always include a freebie with every order?
Evaluating the competition is also how you become smarter about pricing. It’s tempting to charge top dollar for your bike parts; however, pricing too high may drive potential customers away. And listing your bike parts too low may end up impacting your profit margins.
Open Accounts with Reliable Suppliers
Whether you are selling aftermarket, OEM, or used motorcycle parts, you will need a trusted supplier. If you are selling OEM parts, this means having a reliable contact from the brand’s distribution network. Purchasing directly from the brand or an authorized supplier is also the best way to get the most competitive prices that you can pass down to your customers.
Unless you have a collection of used motorcycle parts that will make up your entire inventory, you will also need a supplier for used parts. When buying and selling used parts, it would be ideal to belong to a community of motorcycle parts sellers. If a potential buyer wants to buy motorcycle parts you don’t have, it helps to know someone in your network who has what the customer is looking for.
Build an On-Hand Inventory and Maintain It Properly
Choosing not to have inventory on-hand may be bad for business. If you’re not stocking any items and ordering from your supplier as orders come in, this means making your customers wait longer than they should. Many prospective buyers move on to other sellers when they see that the wait for a part will be too long.
If you want to avoid overstocking and dead stock, do your research on the best-selling motorcycle parts and accessories. Rather than waste your time and money on parts that few people will buy, stock up on top sellers. Check out eBay and Amazon regularly. These top ecommerce platforms showcase their best sellers and even categorize them.
If you don’t have the manpower and resources to maintain a large inventory, only stock items in quantities that you can handle. Ensuring your inventory stays in good condition requires work. Parts and accessories that have been sitting in storage for too long can deteriorate over time.
If the warehouse where motorcycle parts and accessories are stored is not climate-controlled or well-ventilated, this means the packaging could degrade. And once the packaging is damaged, the part may be exposed to the elements. And the last thing you want is to deliver a motorcycle part that is rusty and dirty and may no longer fit and function as it should. You also need to trust that your supplier is taking good care of their inventory; your reputation as an online seller depends on it.
Choose the Right Sales Channels
Many motorcycle parts business owners skip operating a physical store and decide to focus their motorcycle sales online, while maintaining a warehouse for their parts. Deciding to sell your motorcycle parts online requires setting up a website. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars building a website from scratch. There are plenty of ecommerce website builders that allow you to use a template to create a website.
Your website will serve as your home base for your online operations. If you eventually decide to sell on ecommerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, AutoZone, etc., you may need to have your website reviewed before you will be allowed to sell on these sites.
For example, before you can sell motorcycle parts on Amazon, you need to be on the professional selling plan. The Automotive and Powersports category, which includes motorcycle parts and accessories, is a gated category. If you’re not already on the professional selling plan, another way to qualify to sell bike parts and accessories is to have Amazon review your independent website.
Selling on the most popular ecommerce platforms for motorcycle parts and accessories will help your visibility. It’s your best way to improve your rankings in search results. Make sure you optimize your product descriptions. You can also take advantage of the platform’s marketing tools, such as paid ads.
How to Make Your Motorcycle Parts Better
Differentiating yourself is how you can start to build a reputation as a trusted seller. Here are some tips on how to make your motorcycle parts business better and increase sales:
Take Professional-Looking Product Images
Today’s smartphones take amazing photos, so there’s no need to hire a professional photographer or rent a studio. The trick to taking high quality product photos is to use good lighting. When it comes to product photos, natural lighting is best. Place your products on a white background and remove any distracting objects.
Access to natural light is as easy as shooting your photos outdoors or opening the windows in your home or shop. Alternatively, you can use artificial lighting, as long as you’re careful not to cast any unflattering shadows on the product or its surroundings. You’ll also want to limit your use of flash, especially if there are details on the motorcycle part or accessory that may reflect the light.
Take multiple shots of the motorcycle part’s various angles. By posting more than one image of the product, you allow potential customers to see all the details of the part. This helps them make more informed decisions before purchasing. Don’t over-edit your images. At best, enhance the brightness, but never change the saturation so as not to deceive people about the part or accessory’s real color.
Understand the Importance of Fitment
Fitment is one of the most crucial aspects of selling motorcycle parts and accessories. Fitment, also known as compatibility, refers to the year, make, model, and other attributes of a vehicle.
Most bike owners looking for replacement motorcycle parts turn to search engines like Google to look for the part they need. They use keywords like the motorcycle’s brand and the name of the part. What they may not realize is that some parts fit a wide range of motorcycles. Therefore, there may be a part out there made by a different brand that is compatible with another motorcycle brand.
When you provide clear, accurate, and complete fitment data, you reach a wider audience of people who may not realize the part you’re selling is compatible with their bike. You also enhance the online shopping experience for prospective buyers. They don’t have to stop to research whether the part fits or reach out to the seller to confirm compatibility.
You can optimize your motorcycle parts site with fitment filters. If you’re a seller on eBay, Amazon, Walmart, or another ecommerce site, you can use a third party service provider of fitment data. On Amazon, you can send fitment information, either directly or indirectly, using ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard), the industry standard for automotive catalog applications data in North America. On eBay, fitment data takes the form of EPIDs (eBay Product IDs), and you can set up fitment for your product listings on eBay Motors.
Watch Out for Fake Parts
Nothing will ruin your reputation as a motorcycle parts seller like selling counterfeit parts. Fake motorcycle parts and accessories may make their way into your inventory if you trust the wrong supplier.
More and more knockoffs are making their way into the market, and counterfeiters have gotten better at making fakes that could pass for the real deal. As a business owner with a mission to become an established and reliable seller, you need to be vigilant.
Whether it’s rear wheels or brake pads, if you suspect the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that counterfeiters will try to take advantage of those who are searching for the cheapest prices. Examine the packaging to see if there is any suspicious language like “all-original” or “genuine.” Read the labels for misspellings and grammatical errors that indicate the part was made in a foreign country not associated with the original brand.
Handle the product. If you have an original part on-hand, compare the weights. Fakes are typically made using cheap materials, which make them lighter than an authentic part. Examine the details and look for sloppy craftsmanship and ill-fitting components.
When it comes to the motorcycle parts and accessories marketplace, there’s always something you can do to set yourself apart from the competition. It starts with committing to your vision and mission of someday becoming a trusted source of motorcycle parts and accessories. You can achieve this by understanding the unique demands of your target market, filling the gaps in the marketplace, and providing your potential customers all they need to have a smooth and painless online shopping experience.