There are lots of ecommerce systems for auto parts (more than a dozen, in fact – see this list for all of them). All of these systems have the same basic set of features, which makes it hard to choose between them. However, the best ecommerce platforms for auto parts do four things well:
1. They have a year-make-model lookup feature. Auto part consumers expect this type of lookup feature, and in our experience working on dozens of sites, this feature makes a big difference in sales performance.
2. They can accommodate LOTS of data. Most ecommerce systems can handle all the pictures, descriptions, etc. But fitment data – a list of all the vehicles any given part can fit, broken out by year, make model, engine, transmission, etc. – is another matter. A lot of eCommerce systems struggle with this kind of data.
Not to mention, a lot of auto part retailers have 10,000+ SKUs. The best systems can handle this too (and more).
3. They allow bulk updates for prices, fitment, inventory, etc. It’s hard to manage an auto parts ecommerce site unless you can update parts in bulk. If a manufacturer changes MAP, or provides a new fitment list for existing parts, it’s very helpful to be able to update this info by uploading a CSV.
4. They load fast. Performance is important. A site that takes 10 seconds to load – or even 3 seconds – will not convert as well as a site that loads in 2 seconds or less. Internet consumers are an impatient bunch. Make them wait, and they’ll just push the ‘back’ button.
So, which platform(s) are the best? Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.” Each of the systems available has strengths and weaknesses.
How To Find the Best Ecommerce Platform For Your Auto Parts Business
If you want to find a great platform, we suggest the following:
1. Beware companies that make big promises. One company selling an auto parts ecommerce platform says they can provide parts data, interface with every marketplace (eBay, Amazon, etc.), automate all your marketing, rank for every keyword, take care of all shipping and fulfillment, etc., and do it all for the low price of $299 a month!
This might sound tempting, but the reality is that no system can credibly do all of these things. Even if one could, it definitely could not do so at that price.
2. Avoid ecommerce software companies that offer marketing services. This might seem like a self-serving point, but consider the following: Ecommerce software is complex. Managing a successful ecommerce system requires a team of developers, designers, and customer support staff. Marketing is also complex. It requires a team of writers, designers, ad management folks, marketing experts, social media experts, etc.
Can one company do marketing and ecommerce software equally well? Maybe we’re biased, but we’d argue that marketing and software development are different businesses. Just like you wouldn’t want a body shop to rebuild a race motor, we think it’s a mistake to employ a software company to manage advertising or conduct marketing. Likewise, an ecommerce software company that offers marketing probably isn’t giving their all to their ecommerce system.
3. Search for websites using the platform you’re interested in. Most of the ecommerce platforms “sign” the sites they build by putting their name in the footer. They’ll say “Powered by” or “Web Site by”, and you can search that text on Google for sites that are using this platform.
Once you find a few sites using the platform, give them a call and see if you can get a spontaneous, third party review.
4. Ask us for a free evaluation. Without any expectation of providing services to you – and without any compensation from any of the providers – you can contact Spork and we’ll give you our candid opinion on whatever platform you’re considering.
More importantly, we can help you rule out options based on our experience. A company that’s trying to get an OEM parts website off the ground for the lowest price possible needs a different platform than one that’s trying to sell aftermarket Mustang performance parts. We can offer suggestions, answer questions, etc.
5. Last but not least, take your time. Choosing an ecommerce platform is a lot like buying a car. Whatever you choose, you’re going to have to drive it every damn day for the next few years. If you pick the wrong platform, a ‘do-over’ is expensive.
For that reason, it’s important to proceed carefully.
NOTE: In case you missed it, we have a good list of auto parts ecommerce companies here.