Auto repair shop owners today are facing real challenges as technology is changing how consumers are buying. Access to the internet has opened up an entire new world of shopping, which has consequently changed the overall buying journey. The new customer journey takes place in many steps, including:
- Performing online research
- Reading online reviews
- Asking friends for recommendations on social media channels
- Comparing similar businesses online
- Requesting more information on a company’s website
- Considering all of the compiled information
- Making a buying decision
After these steps have been completed, the consumer is ready to buy, which, in the past, would mean driving to a brick-and-mortar location to make the purchase. But with today’s changing technology, the consumer doesn’t even have to leave their house to make a purchase. They can complete the transaction online via e-commerce technology.
That's why we've created this guide to show you how and why auto repair shops should adopt e-commerce selling technology.
Table of Contents:
- What is E-Commerce?
- A Quick Look Into the Current Automotive E-Commerce Market
- Why Auto Repair Shops Should Adopt E-Commerce
- Benefits of E-Commerce to Auto Shop Customers
- What Auto Shops Can Sell on Their E-Commerce Stores
- Best Practices for an E-Commerce Site
- How to Make the Most out of E-Commerce Selling
What is E-Commerce?
E-commerce (short for electronic commerce) is the buying and selling of goods electronically, using the internet. This means that a consumer can visit a business’s website to view available inventory (whether it be products or services), and then buy directly from the site.
For auto repair shops, e-commerce is a business-to-consumer transaction that takes place on the shop’s website. In other words, auto repair shops can set up online stores to sell the products and services they are already offering in the shop.
A Quick Look Into the Current Automotive E-Commerce Market
E-commerce for the auto repair industry has trickled in slowly over the past few years but picked up significant pace in 2019. In fact, the North American online automotive e-commerce market size is now over $16 billion and growing at 14-16% per year.
Currently the majority of attention for auto repair e-commerce has been focused on selling tangible products. Wheel and tire websites, for example, are one of the fastest-growing segments in the auto industry because of e-commerce.
When it comes to e-commerce across all industries, 300 million shoppers are expected in the U.S. by 2023. (That is 91% of the entire population!)
These statistics prove that e-commerce isn’t a passing trend – it is something that all local businesses need to adopt if they want to stay competitive over time. With the shift of consumers’ attention to the internet, auto repair shops and other local businesses need to meet their customers where they are in order to stay afloat and achieve top growth in their local communities.
Why Auto Repair Shops Should Adopt E-Commerce
It is crucial for auto repair shops to adopt e-commerce selling in order to stay competitive. In addition, auto repair shops that implement e-commerce selling will experience many growth benefits, including:
- Increase in customer loyalty: By selling online, auto shops can increase loyalty by selling product and service packages that keep customers coming back over time.
- New business: E-commerce stores can be easily shared over social media channels in order to attract a new audience of buyers.
- Staying competitive with online retailers: Big online retailers like Amazon are selling auto repair services online and even offering the service - replacing the local auto repair shop altogether. It is important for auto shops to adopt new technology, like e-commerce, that will keep their business competitive with online retailers.
Benefits of E-Commerce to Auto Shop Customers
Not only does e-commerce benefit auto repair shops, it also benefits auto repair shop customers for many reasons, including:
- Convenience: There is an extreme convenience that comes with online shopping. Consumers today want to be able to buy at the touch of a button, all while sitting on their couch.
- Savings and discounts: Chances are when a customer is sitting in an auto repair shop waiting room, they are pulling up the shop’s website and looking for any coupons or promotions that may be listed online. By providing a special online discount on your alongside your e-commerce store, your customers will be more inclined to buy from you.
- Targeted offerings: By selling online via e-commerce, auto shops will be able to send targeted offerings based on prior purchases and activity. This provides a high level of personalization to the customer.
- Product and service comparisons: By shopping and comparing online via e-commerce, consumers can feel confident that they are getting the best deal for a top-ranked product or service.
What Auto Shops Can Sell on Their E-Commerce Stores
Because auto repair is a service-based business, it may seem like there are a limited number of things that can be sold via e-commerce, but in actuality, there are many options:
- Auto parts: The most common commodity sold by auto repair shops via e-commerce is auto parts. This can be anything from windshield wipers to tires. In fact, over $7 billion in automotive aftermarket parts will come from mobile technologies in 2020.
- Services: With e-commerce, it is easy to sell your services online. This means that your customers can purchase a service online, before coming in to redeem it. Basic maintenance services like oil changes and tire rotations are well-suited for selling via e-commerce.
- Value packages: A great way to increase customer retention is to bundle together multiple services into one discounted price and sell as a “value package” offer on your e-commerce site. By selling services in this manner, your customers will continue to come back to your auto shop to redeem their services.
- Shop merchandise: If you sell merchandise with your shop logo, e-commerce websites are a perfect place to offer them. Examples of merchandise include t-shirts, koozies, coffee mugs and more.
- Gift cards: Gift cards are another good item to sell on an e-commerce site. Gift-giving holiday seasons are a great time to sell gift cards.
Best Practices for an E-Commerce Site
When adding an e-commerce shop to an auto repair shop website, there are many best practices that should be followed. It is important to provide your customers with a convenient and efficient shopping experience. The list below contains essentials for creating an e-commerce store:
1. Include a “Shop” link in the website header:
2. Display the “shopping cart” in the website header:
3. Create a product page to display all of your store items:
4. Include a photo or image and text description for each product or service in the store:
5. Include “Add to cart” buttons below each separate item:
6. If discounting items, list the original price next to the discounted price:
7. Display customer reviews and ratings for each item:
8. Provide the ability to sort items based on various criteria:
9. Create a checkout page that includes a subtotal of selected items:
10. Always make shipping options (or local pickup) clear:
11. Offer different payment options to accommodate all shoppers:
12. Direct to a confirmation page with receipt once transaction is complete (Also send a copy of the receipt to the buyer via email):
How to Make the Most out of E-Commerce Selling
Once you’ve launched your e-commerce store, it is important to think about where your store fits into the entire customer journey. First, you need to attract potential customers to your e-commerce site. Then, you need to make sure they buy from your shop and redeem the services. Lastly, after they’ve become a customer, you need to put special tactics in place to ensure they keep choosing your auto shop over time. By following these steps, your shop will grow as a result of your e-commerce store and online presence:
Step 1: E-Commerce Shop Promotion
Just like a brick-and-mortar store, it is important to advertise an e-commerce store. Without promotion, no one will know about the store, and consequently, you won’t make any sales.
Paid social media advertising (Google and Facebook) is a great way to attract new business. Other channels like email marketing and organic social media will allow you to share your store with current customers. Think creatively about which channels to use and make sure to promote your e-commerce store to all of your audiences - prospects, lead and customers!
Step 2: Limit Cart Abandonment
Many times when a consumer is shopping online, he or she isn’t ready to make a buying decision right away. When a buyer strays away from a product page on an e-commerce site, it is called “cart abandonment.”
Not all hope is lost at this point, though! Thanks to cart abandonment retargeting, advertisers can start to show the buyer targeted ads based on the original page the buyer viewed. This means that your auto shop’s ads will follow the prospect around the internet until they decide to make a purchase.
Step 3: Nurture Leads Into Clients
Once a lead has bought something from your e-commerce site, it is important to make sure they come in to redeem their service. A great way to do this is to set up automated emails and text messages thanking them for their purchase and providing an easy way to schedule their appointment. Slowly drip emails to the lead over time providing social proof and reasons that the lead should visit your auto shop to redeem their service.
Step 4: Send Personalized Offers
Once you’ve started generating new business via your e-commerce shop, you can keep these new customers coming back by sending personalized offers. Based on their past purchases, send relevant discounts via email and text automation to ensure that the customer returns.
If you are looking to future-proof your auto shop to remain competitive, e-commerce selling is a strategy that should be adopted. Your potential customers expect convenience in all facets of their lives - including getting their car repaired. By implementing e-commerce efficiently, you will successfully be able to attract new business as well as retain your current customer base. In addition, you will boost brand loyalty for your customers which will result in more referrals and positive reviews. Overall, the benefits of e-commerce selling for auto repair shops are evident and crucial in maintaining growth in today’s changing buyer’s landscape.