Many parts manufacturers and retailers are in danger of being left behind as more and more sales move online, warns motor industry e-commerce specialist Dijitul Automotive.
The company, which works with businesses including Scorpion Exhausts, Milner Off Road and GS Motorsport, warns that large parts of the industry are in danger of being taken over by eBay and Amazon as well as the likes of Euro Car Parts and GSF Car Parts.
Dave Hartshorne, director, said: "A quiet revolution is underway. eBay is already the biggest sales channel for parts in the UK yet many parts manufacturers and retailers do not even have their own online sales platform.
"They are in danger of handing over a large chunk of business to established and emerging digital disruptors without even really putting up a fight. This is a situation that we view as frustrating. It is as though they don't recognise what is happening."
There was even a possibility, Dave added, that existing sales models and operations could break down completely as a result of online competition.
"You only have to look at how quickly a business like Amazon can disrupt a market. By offering immediacy and choice, they have been able to almost take over several sectors and severely damage the existing major players, even driving them out of business.
"We believe that, in some sectors of the parts market, this is already happening. Sales of car mats and alloy wheels have already moved almost entirely online, for example."
However, Dave explained, it was possible for the established parts industry to fight back and deliver good results with only a relatively modest investment in e-commerce.
"We have helped a number of businesses double or treble their online presence in a relatively short period of time. It is just a question of moving with the times and evolving an effective digital strategy.
"All of this can be done without breaking the bank."
Dave suggests four key steps that parts retailers and manufacturers need to take:
1. Make sure your technical SEO is working well
Technical search engine optimisation is vital to your online success. Without it, your search engine rankings can take a severe hit. Often invisible to the front end user, the technical elements of SEO underpin the performance of a website. This covers a wide range of areas from page loading speeds to how your website is crawled and indexed by search engines, and which pages show up to which users.
2. Reach your customers with PPC
One of the quickest and most effective ways to drive traffic to your website is with pay per click marketing. By using Google AdWords or Bing Ads, you can very quickly reach a large number of targeted potential customers that are actively seeking your products. PPC is the most natural way of buying target customers to your website, rather than "earning" those customers via organic results through content and SEO efforts.
3. Drive sales with e-mail marketing
E-mail marketing is often underutilised but is a highly effective way of driving new sales and also increasing customer retention and brand loyalty. Compared to other sources of traffic such as social media and organic, e-mail is a great channel for engaging with new and existing online customers. Implementing an e-mail marketing campaign for your business is a great way to convert leads into buyers and buyers into repeat customers.
4. Optimise for mobile first
According to Ofcom, more than 33% of internet users are now searching with a smartphone. Most e-commerce retailers are now finding that a majority of their visits come from users browsing on mobile devices. Failure to adapt to this can be fatal for any online business. However with a well-structured digital marketing plan, parts specialists can focus on mobile boosting, geo-targeting, and location bid adjustment.