Absolute Need for Ecommerce in the Spare Parts Aftermarket: Part 1

By RafterOne

It is true that the sales cycle is usually more focused on offline inspections of machinery and in-person discussions in the manufacturing industry, but the landscape is quite different in the spare parts aftermarket. Whether it is about conducting research online to discover new businesses that provide spare parts, finding the right parts, part recommendations, or even wanting to know more about you after visiting your offline store – an ecommerce platform is essential in several ways.  

B2B customers today expect you to have a good digital presence and enable them to even shop digitally. If you aren’t fulfilling this demand, you are leaving several opportunities untapped.  

Additionally, an ecommerce site will function as a sales channel with a wide variety of scope for business outcomes and the growth of your brand.  

At the same time, finding a technology partner that understands the nuanced approach needed for an aftermarket business is crucial to your success. In this blog, we address how a robust B2B ecommerce platform can help you ace digital transformation and how to choose the right partner and tools can help you achieve it. 

Here’s why your spare parts business needs a B2B ecommerce platform 

Ecommerce has evolved at an accelerated pace since the pandemic and continues to grow. Customers expect more, and as a business looking to thrive, you must empower them with more. In-person meetings just don’t cut it anymore – it’s about providing a holistic online and offline experience. While businesses have been taking care of offline stores efficiently, let’s understand more about online presence.  

Serves as the gateway to your brand  

Today, having a digital footprint puts you on the map for customers. It has become almost mandatory to have omnichannel presence to appeal to your customer. A survey revealed that for a B2B buyer’s research method, 53% of the respondents used web search and 41% depended on websites. Therefore, if you do not have an online presence with an ecommerce website for your aftermarket business, then more than half of your potential customers aren’t even finding you!  

A well-built ecommerce platform makes it an even playing field among competitors.  

 

Enables customers to find exactly what they are looking for  

Earlier, aftermarket business reps would bring a catalog and help customers in their decision-making process. But this is a tedious and time-consuming process, especially when there are easier ways to navigate through this process. The sheer volume of parts today makes the whole task extremely daunting – There is no way customers can keep flipping hundreds of pages to find the right part. A digital catalog on an eCommerce platform can help customers find exactly what they are looking for. At the same time, if your website is powered by a good search engine, whenever a customer cannot find exactly what they are looking for, the suggestion of good alternatives can be a great boost to your business. As customers are used to such recommendations on B2C platforms, they expect a similar experience from B2B businesses as well.  

However, creating product listings is not as simple in this industry as opposed to other B2C eCommerce sites. A simple description is not sufficient. Importing this product data about millions of SKUs from multiple manufacturers could be a formidable task if your technology partner isn’t equipped to handle this level of complexity.  

 

Provides you with abundant data and analytics information to understand customers   

An ecommerce platform practically lets you experience your customer’s buying journey. Trends and patterns about products they are looking for, pages that they usually drop off at, data on cart abandonment – a major ecommerce issue, geographies where sales are highest and lowest, seasonal orders if any and more! By understanding this buying behavior, you can curate a platform that is intuitive and helps them in making the purchase.  

  

Empowers your sales reps with more time and fewer errors  

In the aftermarket industry, customer service teams and sales representatives are often choked with long customer calls. Whether it is in clarifying what the customer is looking for, customizing their order, or giving them ample product information — these are all time-consuming processes.  

When an eCommerce platform is brought into the mix, it provides customers an opportunity to visualize their requirements, understand products first-hand and make the purchase on their own. Chambers Gasket, a Chicago-based family-owned gasket business implemented an eCommerce platform – Online sales orders helped their sales reps save over 18 mins per transaction! 

This means if you implement an eCommerce platform, it allows your employees to respond to more complex customer queries.  

Imbibing an eCommerce platform helps reduce manual errors that can happen with long overdrawn conversations or even the fault of the buyer. However, you want to eliminate this business hassle as much as possible. An eCommerce platform helps in this process by showing all the decision influencing information to the customers and allows them to review their order details at their fingertips at any time. 

  

Enables you to cross-sell and upsell easily  

When customers use your eCommerce platform to browse through products, it gives you opportunities to cross-sell products. For instance, whenever they are looking for headlights for their automobile, the system could recommend taillights as well. When they see the option to buy related products as well from you, your Average Order Value (AOV) is bound to increase.  

You could also upsell products through your commerce platform. Whenever a customer looks for a specific product, recommending higher quality products along with it, at a slightly higher price point can help nudge them to spend more.  

  

Enhances your brand value and reach 

If you have an offline store with customers visiting you often, that is great! You are already in the market with a certain level of brand presence. However, when you have an online presence through an eCommerce platform, you will have customers coming to your sites for queries as opposed to any cold call methods. It helps you branch out your reach to newer geographies as well!  

A survey revealed that to choose a vendor for their B2B products, 57% respondents believed that a website that addressed their industry needs is extremely important, alongside easy to access pricing and competitive information. You can provide your customers with all of this and more with a well-curated eCommerce system.  

 

Provides a seamless checkout experience 

Oftentimes, deals can fall through at the last stages. If your aftermarket business is facing a similar issue, then an eCommerce platform can help speed things along. The customer can purchase easily and have all the additional charges such as shipping costs upfront. This saves them from any last-minute surprises and reduces cart abandonment. In B2B eCommerce businesses, cart abandonment numbers are quite high, in the range of 70%. Partnering with the right platform to enable a smooth checkout experience can enhance your conversion rates.  

  

Increases post purchasing experience and retention rate  

It is essential to provide a seamless experience to your customers from the time they land on your website to the time they place an order. However, the post-purchasing experience is also crucial and made easy with an eCommerce system.  

Providing customers with easy access to their invoices, order history, tracking information, and return and refund processes are all imperative. Alongside, you can build your repository of feedback by asking customers to leave a review after they receive their products. This helps build your brand impression and will make you a trustworthy business. Salesforce OMS (Order Management System) integrated with B2B Commerce can make the post purchase processes of fulfillment and exchanges/returns/refunds extremely easy.  

Likewise, these processes help improve retention rates as well. With easy access to looking up spare parts, notifying them about the newer after-market products on the market, or even making it easy to repeat orders, you are ensuring customers don’t go looking elsewhere for what they need.  

 

Helps you stand out among competitors   

It is a smooth sailing win for you if your competitors lack the robust ecommerce platform that your business offers.  

Wrapping up!   

We understand that change can be daunting and shifting from offline to online store is a new experience. But it is a venture worth investing your time and effort in because the ROI is exponential. As digital progresses and radically transforms every industry, it is essential to evolve and embrace the changes and grow rather than resist them.  

In part 2 of this blog, we will guide you through how you can be ready to take on the transition with us!