Auto Parts Website Design – 3 Best Practices

Forgive us for stating the obvious, but an ecommerce auto parts website has one purpose: To sell parts. The trouble is, a lot of designs and ecommerce systems have features and aspects that inhibit sales.

In this article, we’re going to dive into three of the biggest issues many auto parts ecommerce websites face. Generally speaking, addressing the issues we highlight below will improve website performance and increase sales.

Don’t Make Users “Figure Out” Anything

When people visit a website for the first time, they tend to anticipate a certain structure:

  • The menu will be along the top of the page and/or along the left side of the site
  • The phone number and search form will be in the top right corner of the site
  • Trust symbols and links to policy pages will be along the bottom of the site
  • etc.

The reason that people anticipate this structure is that it’s familiar. And it’s familiar because there’s a lot of evidence to show that website users digest a page in an “F” pattern:

F pattern for online reading

Using tools that track the human eye, researchers have found that most websites are consumed in an ‘F’ pattern. This heat map shows the “F” as measured on Tutsplus.com.

A more detailed explanation of the ‘F’ pattern is here – but the big takeaway is that website users often “expect” to find the same structural pattern on every website. If your website doesn’t follow the standard structural pattern, it will be harder for new visitors to use.

Standard Ecommerce Site Structures and Best Practices

If you have an ecommerce website, you would be wise to implement all of the following standard layout placements and design best practices (or, better yet, test them):

  • Put your menu along the top of your site, with a left-side menu being an option for stores with lots of categories
  • Avoid multiple menus in the header
  • Put your logo in the top left corner, with a tagline next to it or underneath
  • Put the ‘search’ box in the upper right corner
  • If you want the phone to ring, put the phone number in the upper right corner
  • Put ‘trust symbols’ (learn more about trust symbols here) in the bottom right corner of your site
  • Make sure all your buttons look like buttons
  • Make sure that anything that looks “clickable” can be clicked
  • Pictures always work better than text

Last but not least: testing is your friend. When you decide to change something, test the impact of the change if it’s at all practical to do so.

The Product Page Is Make Or Break

With the understanding that’s there’s no such thing as a “perfect” layout for product pages, there are definitely some good rules of thumb:

  • Make sure your product page has a great image, and more images are better
  • Put the product’s key attributes – name, price, brand, review rating – where it’s easy to find
  • Use a big “add to cart” button
  • Put nitty gritty details (like a long production description, dimensions, warranty statement, etc.) below the fold
  • Make sure people can read reviews and ratings from real customers

There are a lot of great articles written about product page design online – we’d recommend this post from Shopify’s blog, and this one from VWO – but auto parts retailers can learn a lot from the product page layout on AutoAnything.com.

 

With our compliments to the team at AutoAnything, the screenshot above exhibits a lot of the basics quite well.

NOTE: It’s difficult for many auto parts ecommerce retailers to accumulate product reviews. But, as you can see, reviews help sell products. Make sure to follow-up and ask for reviews after every sale (if your website will support it).

You Can’t Sell Parts Without The Consumer’s Trust

If a customer is going to put his/her credit card and personal information into an ecommerce site, a sense of trust is crucial. The keys to creating trust with consumers are:

  • Share Testimonials and Showcase Product Reviews. Would-be customers are looking for proof of quality and trustworthiness, and they often appreciate testimonials. Reviews and ratings work great too. At Spork, we work with Shopper Approved to collect website reviews and testimonials, but there are other platforms that offer similar functionality.
  • Trust Symbols. We’ve already mentioned this a couple of times, but here we go again: your ecommerce website needs trust symbols. Consumers like to see security seals, privacy guarantees, 3rd party logos, etc. Check out our detailed article about trust symbols here.

Trust symbols are vital to ecommerce success.

Trust symbols are vital to ecommerce success.

  • Excellent Security. It should go without saying, but a SSL secured checkout process is absolutely vital. In many cases, enabling SSL sitewide is beneficial to sales.
  • A Great Return Policy. Consumers who have had a problem returning something they’ve purchased online are often deeply concerned about return hassles. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure your return policy is simple, easy to understand, and fair.
  • An Authentic ‘About’ Page. The ‘about’ page is often one of the most important pages on an ecommerce website. Consumers who have never bought from a website are likely to look at this page, and they’re not going to be impressed if they find 100 words of boilerplate copy. A good ‘about’ page tells the company’s story, identifies the people behind the site, and builds value in the company itself.
  • A Toll-Free Phone Number. Consumers often associate a toll-free phone number with trustworthiness.
  • A Price Match Guarantee. In niches where pricing is basically the same from one site to the next (which is quite common now because of MAP policies), a price match guarantee is a no-brainer. Learn more about implementing a price match guarantee policy here.

Summary

There’s a lot that goes into creating an auto parts ecommerce site. First, you need to identify a niche and figure out fulfillment. Then, you need to find your parts data, and get it into a format that allows you to add it to your site. You need to find a company to help you build your site, and then you need to figure out a design. The process is complex and difficult, and can take months or even years to complete.

While it would be ideal to get everything right the first time, the reality is that you can’t allow perfect to be the enemy of good. If your website development process is already underway – or if your site is built and a redesign isn’t in the cards right now – you might not be able to implement all of these best practices.

Still, if you can only implement a couple of the items on our list, odds are good you’ll see a small improvement in sales. Good luck!