Why should you use an eCommerce platform?
Sales of any kind can often be complicated, which is only more so the case when it comes to automotive parts, gear accessories, and other essential goods in the automotive industry. If you want to encourage customers to return to your business for future purchases while attracting new dealerships and merchants, it’s essential to offer an omnichannel eCommerce portal that’s easy to use, supports SEO optimization, and works well on any device that customers might use.
Effective automotive eCommerce websites not only simplify the sales experience for clients but also grant your organization a platform through which you can offer a personalized customer experience. This can take the form of catalogs, pricing and shipping offers, localization options, connections to sub-sites and independent storefronts, and augmented physical shopping. Meanwhile, an eCommerce platform allows you to guide your own strategy by either setting up an automotive marketplace or integrating with an existing option such as Amazon.
All of these opportunities for customization, when placed in the right hands, make it far easier for your business to expand by attracting new business.
A better customer experience can increase sales
Introducing a new automotive eCommerce platform presents a key opportunity to transform the shopping experience, which goes a long way towards driving up sales.
For example, a potent search engine makes it easier for shoppers to find the specific parts they want without needing to manually dig through a catalog or scroll down a page. By providing the option to look for products based on the part’s name, number, brand, details, vendor, or whatever other attributes are most important to the user, you can remove a potential hurdle that might otherwise prevent a customer from making a purchase.
An effective eCommerce solution also utilizes automation to optimize the client experience. Options such as request for quotation (RFQ), configure price quote (CPQ), and quote to cash (QTC) make it easier to negotiate and fulfill orders while also reducing the steps needed for a customer to make purchases based on any specific terms and prices agreed to beforehand.
Automation also frees up your sales team to give each client the kind of personal attention that can help finalize a sale, which only becomes possible when you streamline other processes.
Reduce complexity and raise efficiency
Another advantage of automation is a reduction in costs that comes with streamlined processes.
For example, imagine a customer from a time zone seven hours behind your own. While it’s well past the point at which your sales team has left for the day, your client will still be operating within normal business hours. If they want to place an order, an automated self-service portal provides 24/7 support while lowering the associated costs by ten times or more.
Automotive business software doesn’t only digitalize the experience for your customers. Instead, your platform should deliver a customer relationship management (CRM) system that your employees can access through mobile devices as well as digital tools for order management, complex pricing calculation, and contract management that reduce the difficulty for your sales team. Doing all of this through a single platform also enables centralized administration and data management, thereby cutting costs and risks associated with manual work.
Get ahead of the future
Business practices change almost every day, as do customer expectations. That means that you cannot wait until it’s absolutely necessary before transforming the way you work. Keeping pace with the requirements of the automotive industry and the needs of your clients requires scalability and future-proofing.
Automotive ecommerce software helps prepare your business for unforeseen changes in the future. The right platform will ensure that you can maximize your growth and innovation opportunities. And by making sure that your solution is custom-built to accommodate the unique challenges that come with selling auto parts and components, your business becomes more sustainable and ready to adapt at speed.
Make sure to choose the right platform
Of course, you have a large number of platforms to choose from to support auto eCommerce. They all have their benefits and their drawbacks to consider. But keep in mind that selling auto parts represents a particularly complicated sales field, in large part because it comes with so many unique challenges. As a result, your automotive eCommerce platform has to conform to the demands of the industry if you want to compete.
So, how do you make that choice? There are a number of things to consider, the most important of which we’ll discuss here.
Matching the solution to your objectives
Once you’ve decided to jump into auto eCommerce, the next step is to define the goals behind this choice. For example, your business needs to consider how quickly it needs to grow online sales and whether you will use multiple platforms or a single solution to enable online sales.
One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is a question of scale: will you look to sell auto parts locally or across your nation of choice? This generally comes down to a question of your appetite for competition versus your desire for profit. Targeting nationwide sales will expand your potential audience and lead to more income, but stepping onto such a large stage will naturally pit you against a larger number of other auto part traders. Meanwhile, focusing on a local audience can reduce your exposure if things don’t go well, but also limits the upside of your eCommerce strategy.
Determine what your business hopes to achieve, then select a platform that supports your goals.
- Make sure the website is reliable
It goes without saying that if your platform spends time out of commission, that downtime will cost you in terms of sales but also in terms of the general view of your business. Customers that visit an automotive eCommerce website only to find that it doesn’t work aren’t likely to return if they can find another option.
Before selecting a solution, make sure that it offers information about maintenance and predicted uptime so that you know what to expect when issues crop up.
- Check for support availability
No matter how much you prepare or plan, at some point, things will go wrong. There isn’t a solution out there that won’t eventually experience downtime, whether scheduled or not, or otherwise run into technical issues.
So, when you’re considering your options for an eCommerce platform, check on what kind of support you will receive to resolve such issues. Take reviews into account or even contact other businesses in the automotive industry who have used the solution to get personal testimonials on the vendor’s effectiveness in this area.
- Consider the customer experience
At the end of the day, nothing matters quite so much as the experience your customers have when trying to buy auto parts from your business. So, you need to know exactly what kind of journey a given platform will provide as well as how it will fit with your expectations and those of your clients.
Asking for a demo before making a final choice gives you the chance to explore and get a hands-on feel for the experience your portal would deliver. Doing so will ensure that you know what to expect with regards to speed and ease of use.
In addition, mobile accessibility is of the utmost importance. When selecting a platform for the future, you’ll need it to reach customers wherever they prefer to do business. Plus, Google’s mobile-first indexing will soon put an even greater emphasis on the delivery of a true omnichannel experience. That makes mobility a key factor both for your customer experience and your ability to keep pace with the competition.
- Making the website your own
When a customer visits your eCommerce automotive platform, you want them to easily recognize it as belonging to your business. Not only does an effective sales journey cast your business in a positive light, it makes your website stand apart from the others. Memorability not only brings customers back for future engagement but also avoids the pitfall of fitting into established templates too much and getting lost in the mix.
This is largely determined by how much and how easily a service provider allows you to customize and make changes to your chosen platform. Before selecting a particular solution, check with the vendor to see what your personalization options will be.
- Enable price customization
Many eCommerce solutions will force you to follow a common pricing format, which can really limit your organization due to the complexity of selling auto parts. When you only have one system for determining what you can charge for different products, it becomes difficult to respond to market fluctuations and can lead to serious losses. More flexibility is always good, especially when it comes to pricing.
- Identify additional tools
While the base product might seem paramount when it comes to automotive eCommerce software, you don’t want to roll out the bare minimum when it comes to the platform through which you sell auto parts. Having a few extra factors makes your website distinct, helps in the building of your own unique identity, and offers additional reasons for customers to visit again.
- Integrate the platform with your existing systems
When you’re approaching a new implementation, especially one as complicated as the introduction of an eCommerce platform, there’s no reason to make things any more difficult for yourself by forcing changes beyond that implementation. If possible, try to find a solution that suits the other tools you’ve already got in place. Meanwhile, consider how you plan to approach sales and where a particular portal might fit into that plan and your existing infrastructure.
- Guarantee security and reliability for payments
Anytime a customer makes a purchase online, they are trusting your business with sensitive information in the form of their credit card information. It’s essential that your automobile eCommerce platform can promise absolute security so that they do not need to worry about fraud on top of everything else.
One option for securing your digital shopping processes is to use a token-based payment system that replaces the need for inputting credit card numbers. While this might add extra steps, customers will thank you for the extra peace of mind.
- Match the cost to your needs
While it’s great to talk about extra tools and an optimized customer experience, the price of a new platform remains a major determining factor when you make a selection. This doesn’t mean that you should simply look for the cheapest option that fulfills your basic requirements. In fact, when you establish acceptable costs prior to researching potential solutions, it’s important to understand your business’ exact expectations before matching them with a fitting budget.
At the same time, be aware that vendors will likely try to upsell you with more expensive packages that exceed what you require. Always match the costs of a new eCommerce platform with what you hope to get out of it.
How Reffine’s Stock Locator for automotive eCommerce can help you
To fit the various challenges and factors that you should consider when selecting an eCommerce platform, we offer our own Stock Locator platform for automotive eCommerce.
The Reffine Stock Locator is easy and inexpensive to implement so that you can begin benefiting from your new online auto parts shopping platform quickly while providing a mobile experience. With transparent pricing, you don’t have to worry about any hidden fees when considering how the solution matches your budget. The platform is also designed to integrate smoothly into automotive systems while managing the various complexities of auto part sales, such as supporting coordination between your business, its partners and customers, and your supply chain.
The Stock Locator also makes it easier for you to perform website optimization. Automation ensures that basic SEO practices are automatically in place while simultaneously allowing for greater customization for those companies that are comfortable getting more involved. In addition, the platform largely eliminates errors that could disrupt a reliable customer experience.
Finally, Reffine’s Stock Locator represents a future-proof solution that enables your business to adapt to unforeseen challenges as they arise. Broadly available support ensures that the platform fulfills your needs, avoids substantial downtime, and can be adjusted as need be.
For more information on how Reffine can help, please contact us!