Spend enough time as an auto parts etailer and you’ll learn a thing or two about what makes auto parts shoppers angry. Here are three things that auto parts buyers really, really don’t like. Be sure to avoid them so you can keep them coming back for more parts!
1 – Long Wait Times
Most consumers expect their online orders to arrive in 2 or 3 days. While this expectation isn’t always reasonable, it’s definitely the benchmark that consumers have in their minds.
So, in order to avoid triggering an upset customer, there are some things you can do to address this expectation:
- Offer realistic timelines for fulfillment and delivery.
- Offer a wide range – many of our customers will state that delivery takes 3-7 days. This meets the expectations on the low end, but provides a buffer for orders that take a little longer.
- If a product is on backorder or otherwise delayed, be sure to say so on the product page.
- Assuming you can do it, offer next day or second day shipping in addition to your standard ground shipping so that consumers who are in a hurry can get what they need.
- Last but not least, offer same day processing as late in the day as possible. Your cutoff time should be 3-5pm. This allows customers to order parts or accessories on their lunch break.
For more tips about shipping best practices, be sure to read our article “Is Free Shipping Killing Your Profits? You’re Not Alone.”
2 – Getting The Wrong Part
Shipping out the wrong part is an easy way to make a consumer hopping mad. Imagine, for example, that a customer is fixing their primary vehicle. They order a part, tear down their vehicle after the part arrives, and THEN learn the part doesn’t fit. Problem? You bet.
However, consumers also get mad when they themselves order the wrong part. Even if you or your staff put the part the customer ordered in the box, the customer is likely to hold your company accountable for sending them the wrong part.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to verify fitment on parts and accessories before shipping. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Ask the customer for their VIN before filling an order. You can do this in your checkout process, but we don’t recommend it (making consumers give you a VIN reduces conversions). You can also call every customer after they order and verify their VIN and/or fitment. It’s time consuming, but it reduces returns, avoids upset customers, and most consumers are impressed that you took the time to verify things.
- Send each customer an email after they buy offering to verify fitment, and explaining that they’re responsible for a restocking fee if they ordered the wrong part.
- Invest in an ecommerce platform that offers VIN verification, and then encourage consumers to shop for parts by entering their VIN.
- Make sure your fitment data is correct, and fix problems when you find them.
Verifying fitment takes some time, but it can help you avoid returns (which are profit killers), and it can also boost customer loyalty. Not to mention that contacting every customer is a great way to reduce credit card fraud.
photo © Alphaspirit
3 – Finding Out That A Part Is Discontinued
Discontinued parts are commonplace in the industry, particularly as vehicles start to age. So, when a consumer finds a discontinued part number available for sale on your website, they often believe that your company is one of the last companies that has the part they need.
Unfortunately for the consumer, most listings for discontinued parts are nothing more than data quality problems. Often times, retailers don’t find out about discontinued parts until someone tries to buy one. This is frustrating to consumers – they searched high and low to find the part they needed, thought they had it on order, and learned that the data was just expired.
Some possible solutions to this problem:
- Subscribe to manufacturer newsletters so you can find out if/when a part number is discontinued
- Periodically audit parts data
- Consider removing brands that have a high percentage of discontinued part numbers
And, last but not least, you can try to find the discontinued part for the consumer that orders it. If you can find the part, you can give the customer a solution to their problem. For example, you could say,”We don’t have the part you ordered, but I checked around and I found it on eBay. Can I give you the seller’s profile name or send you a link?” That way, you’re giving the consumer a solution to their problem.
Nearly all the problems that make auto parts consumers hopping mad are avoidable. If your company sets reasonable expectations for part delivery times, implements a process for verifying fitments, and maintains data quality, your customers should be consistently happy.