Selling Parts on eBay, Amazon, and Other Marketplaces

eBay and Amazon sell a lot of auto parts and accessories. So do Sears.com, Newegg, and Rakuten. All of these sites are open to 3rd party auto part retailers, and many find them to be a great source of additional revenue. Here’s a rundown of each marketplace, with some tips and advice.

Ebay Amazon fundamentals

First, Investigate a Listing Management Tool

Before we dive into each marketplace, it’s important to note that managing listings on multiple marketplaces takes a lot of work. Tools exist to make this work easier, and we recommend investigating them. Some of the tools that are available include:

  • ChannelAdvisor, which is very popular in the world of auto parts
  • Solid Commerce and Sellbrite offer similar services
  • There are also marketplace integrations built in to some ecommerce systems, or available as add-ons.

The “trick” with these tools is to integrate them into your ecommerce website and your accounting system. If you’re just getting started, integration is easy. Integration is a little more challenging if you’re already selling parts on your website, eBay or Amazon.

While you don’t need a listing management tool, most of our clients find them to be a very worthwhile investment.

Amazon fundamentals

Selling Auto Parts on Amazon

Success on Amazon is all about understanding and following the best practices.

  1. Understand that drop shipping orders is hard when you’re selling on Amazon. Amazon’s system is geared towards retailers who use fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), as Amazon is looking for 1-3 day delivery times. Retailers who rely on drop-shipping will find it hard to generate a large amount of revenue on Amazon. (With most automotive fulfillment companies, meeting the delivery times is borderline impossible).
  2. Even if you get fulfillment knocked out, Amazon is going to hold you to a very high standard in terms of accuracy and customer service. If you perform, you’ll get lots of business from this channel. If not, you’ll wonder why you bother listing here.
  3. Amazon listings have to be optimized to get traffic. You need to use popular search terms in your product description and bullet point features. Fill out as many details as you can for each product. Upload great images. Try to answer common questions. If you do these things for each product, you’ll get more sales. You also need a pile of great reviews to hit big volumes, at least if you’re selling a unique product.

Basically, selling on Amazon is best for retailers who want to hold inventory. You must also be willing to do all the “little stuff” in terms of optimizing listings. Still, despite the negatives, serious revenue is possible ($100k+ per month is not at all unheard of).

Finally, lest we forget, making a profit on Amazon is a challenge. Most retailers report thin net margins when it’s all said and done. Still, a small percentage of a large number can be a good thing.

Selling Parts and Accessories on eBay

eBay is another great place to sell a lot of parts and make hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue every month. The key is to understand how eBay works:

  1. eBay pricing is tricky. eBay buyers are all about “the deal,” and they’ll often find the cheapest product regardless of shipping and handling charges. As a result, many retailers discount their pricing and inflate their shipping and handling costs. MAP policies don’t always allow this, but if you’re retailing your own brand of parts, it’s something to consider.
  2. Positive feedback is important. If you have to beg the first few buyers for positive feedback, do it. eBay success relies on positive feedback. If you don’t have a good rating, you won’t be able to sell much of anything.
  3. Beware of buyers with bad feedback. We’ve heard horror stories of buyers returning parts different than what they bought. At times, they will return broken parts for a full refund, etc. Don’t do business with buyers that have bad ratings if you can help it.

Finally, when you first get started on eBay, start small. Don’t list everything you can right away. List best sellers, make sure you understand the process, and take your time. That way you can learn the ins and outs and limit your exposure should you make a mistake.

Basics for Newegg, Rakuten, Sears, and Everywhere Else

Listing parts on these smaller marketplaces is often about expanding your reach as far as possible. Sometimes, listings will result in only incremental sales. If you’re using a listing management tool, expanding to these sites is a simple matter. If not, you might not want to bother with these smaller sites, as the return is small relative to the time of setting up and managing listings.

Still, despite their smaller size, these marketplaces can be a great source of revenue. The best advice:

  1. Study each site’s terms and policies before you list. This is the best way to avoid problems.
  2. See what other companies are selling similar parts for, in terms of both asking price and shipping costs.
  3. Make sure you understand your margins. Sellers fees can vary, and it can get confusing.
  4. Take your time and try new sites one at a time. Selling parts online isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Each marketplace has it’s own “niche,” so it’s a good idea to try them one at a time and study the results.

The big picture here is that most auto parts retailers are also pushing product on one or more of the major marketplaces. If you’re going to be selling parts online, managing listings on Amazon, eBay, etc. is worth trying. Good luck!

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