What Drives the Automotive Aftermarket’s Online Shoppers

What Drives the Automotive Aftermarket’s Online Shoppers

E-commerce continues to be on a rapid path of growth in the automotive aftermarket industry, especially as the average age of automobiles climbs beyond its current record of 11.4 years. According to new research by UPS and comScore, 56% of online automotive parts and accessories shoppers are making their purchases online – an 8% increase over the previous year.  Automotive aftermarket e-tail revenue is projected to double within three years.

Other key findings from the study indicate:

  • Online comparison shopping increased 12% since 2014, with 95% of online automotive aftermarket consumers now comparing products and prices before they buy.
  • A majority (63%) use online coupons and 52% are more likely to shop with a retailer if they receive email offers with discounts.
  • Online shoppers buying auto parts use ship-to-store 55% of the time, which is a 14% increase from the prior year, as part of a growing trend toward increased convenience and no-cost ship-to-store pricing.
  • An additional 10% of consumers, 86%, strongly prefer to return items to a store compared to the prior year.
  • Replacement parts shoppers primarily look for the best price and availability, while upgrade customers are researching product details and reviews.
  • The top reasons that consumers shop at one retailer over another are price (52%), product availability (45%) and selection (37%).
  • 63% like to receive email or text delivery alerts with the approximate time of delivery, up from 47% in 2014.
  • Consumers who are shopping for auto parts online are increasingly mobile, researching products, reviews and pricing, with 43% using mobile devices to compare prices, 43% using mobile to look up product reviews, and 41% using mobile to read product details.

The study also revealed some interesting comparisons among shopper segments.

Men vs. Women

According to the research, “Men are more patient than women when it comes to receiving their online orders, willing to wait almost twice as long for their deliveries. A large number of men want packages delivered to locations other than their homes, whereas the majority of women prefer to have packages delivered to their homes. Women are significantly heavier users of social media versus men and value free shipping options more than men. When it comes to selecting retailers, women are heavily influenced by price, whereas men are most concerned with fitment data. On average, men are installing more parts themselves than women.”

(Image Source: UPS – What’s Driving the Automotive Parts Online Shopper Study)

illennials vs. Older Age Groups

“Defined as individuals ages 18-34, millennials are far more likely to use mobile devices and social media versus older age groups. They tend to select faster shipping options, however, they are willing to wait twice as long for deliveries versus older age groups. Millennials also want packages delivered to locations other than their homes, whereas older age groups prefer to have packages delivered to their homes. Older age groups are much more concerned with price when selecting retailers versus millennials. Both groups of shoppers highly value free shipping.


(Image Source: UPS – What’s Driving the Automotive Parts Online Shopper Study)

DIY and DIFM Segments

Another study, the Auto Care Association’s E-tailing in the Automotive Aftermarket, surveyed both technicians and end consumers (as compared to the UPS study which focused solely on end-use consumers). The study looked at parts DIY (Do-it-Yourself) and DIFM (Do-it-For-Me) segments are purchasing online. DIYers are purchasing parts such as filters, glass and lighting products, and electrical parts that are generally less technical and easier to install. DIFM purchases include more complex parts such as computers and emissions components to exhaust systems.

DIFM purchasers are more likely to be Millennials, purchasing parts for upgrades. These consumers are more tech-savvy than replacement customers, and because these items tend to be heavier, DIFM buyers will gravitate towards retailers who offer a range of shipping options to meet pricing and timing needs.  They also tend to use social media for recommendations and to share their experiences, so be sure to offer a strong social media presence and a seamless purchase experience.

DIY customers are also more than 5 times as likely as DIFM customers (11% to 2% respectively) to perform their own maintenance or have maintenance performed on their vehicle at least once a month (Auto Care study), while nearly 70% of DIFM consumers report having maintenance done to their vehicle every two-to-six months.

Know Your Prospect Audience

With a basic understanding of what these segments look like, you can then create rich customer and prospect profiles and target them with messaging to which they will be most apt to respond. To pinpoint your ideal target audience, your internal data sets should be augmented with third party demographics and auto specialty data.  For example, target millennials based on a certain income and who exhibit a tendency to engage in DIY projects.  Add additional selects such as the make, model, and year of the vehicle they drive and data such as engine size, fuel type, drive train, engine block, and engine cylinders. Or target women with offers for free shipping with specific data pertaining to the vehicle type and year they drive.

Your 1st party data is a great starting point, but by adding a wealth of additional demographic and auto selects, you can create messaging that will really cut through the clutter and to which consumers will take notice.

Today’s consumers are rewarding their business to those aftermarket retailers who offer flexibility, convenient shipping options, and a seamless online experience. As this market continues to grow, implement strategies now to reach these consumers with the right messages across channels.

To learn more about targeting and winning with today’s multi-channel automobile shopper, download the Automotive Marketing Data Success Kit.

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