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Opportunity Knocks – Are You Ready?

By | Announcements, ecommerce | No Comments

Automotive Parts & Accessories Market is Already Changing and Will Change More.

Ebay “Garage” (http://www.ebay.com.au/motors/garage) has been around for some time now and lets the user lookup and add their vehicle from the MVL (master vehicle list) which is powered by TecDoc.

The latest upgrade or change is the addition of the new fitment lookup on the search results page.

In the example below, if the user searches by “Camry oil filter” Ebay search knows the user is looking for auto parts and automatically triggers the fitment lookup filter and displays it at the top of the results page.

The user can then refine the search by using the fitment lookup drop down selection. This then filters the results to only show products and listings that are linked to that vehicle via the MVL.

No product or vehicle link – no visible listing. Read More

Amazon Coming to Australia

By | Announcements, Automotive, Blog | No Comments
Amazon fish

Image by Frits Ahlefeldt

*Since posting this blog, The Age has amended the original article, that the quoted Amazon source was NOT a current Amazon employee and did not speak for the company. Further to this, Amazon made an official announcement on 20th April and the news is now reflected on the Amazon Australia web site. 

The speculation is over with an Amazon executive confirming to Fairfax media that the company plans to be fully operational in Australia by the end of 2018.

“Australians will be able to buy everything from takeaway and groceries to electronics and clothing from Amazon’s greatly expanded online offering by the end of next year.“ Quotes The Age March 29th 2017

The Australian retail community has been abuzz with the news that Amazon is coming to invade Australia with no official confirmation until now. Amazon has been reported as scoping out warehousing sites, and hiring local logistics people needed for a successful local ecommerce operation. But, the smart money backed a minimum of 12 month’s lead time once they broke cover with real estate, logistics and once local agreements were entered in to.

So what does this mean for Australia, retailing and the auto parts market in particular?

In the U.S., Amazon has been accused of “destroying traditional retailers” according to the Financial Review. Steve Odland, a former AutoZone chief executive interviewed for the article said that traditional bricks and mortar retailers were heading for a “slow moving train wreck” with wide ranging knock-on effects to things like commercial real estate as Amazon accelerates the shift to online.

More on that later but first some local history.

Before, Amazon was content sending products direct to Australian consumers through couriers and soft service delivery. In 2016, some analysts predicted Amazon would set up shop here prior to 1st July 2017 and in time for changes to the GST (goods and services tax) being applied to imported goods below a $1000 threshold. By February this year, analysts had set back the rumored invasion to September 2017. The rumor mill gathered pace through early 2017 and we now have a concrete answer but what will the new Amazon Australia service offering entail?

And the stakes are high.

According to the same article, Australia’s retail sector is worth around $222 billion. Based on overseas experience, Amazon can undercut conventional retail prices by as much as 30 percent, enabling it to carve as much as $3.5 to $4 billion out of the Australian retail sector over the next five years according to a Sydney Morning Herald piece. This would equate to 14 percent of all local online spending and 1.1 percent of total Australian retail spending.

Bigger fish in the pond

Most think Australian retailers are still unprepared. In an ABC News interview John McDuling, associate editor at the Australian Financial Review, says local retailers have been operating for years on an “oligopoly economy” business model “in every sort of market segment” – one or two big players with a network of physical retail stores and supply chains around the country and the biggest profit margins in the world. Faced with Amazon’s business model: minimal physical stores, very advanced supply chains, and a focus on keeping prices low – only a few may be able to keep up. Australian online retailer conversion rates are less than 10 percent vs Amazon’s U.S. site converting 49 percent of Australian shoppers to date.

Young Australians welcome Amazon

A recent Neilsen survey shows young Australians are particularly interested in having a wider range of products that are cheaper and delivered faster. According to Neilsen’s January 2017 study:

“75% of Australians aged 18+ saying they are interested in Amazon Australia; while 56% say they are likely to purchase from its Australian site; and 45% saying they would pay to become an Amazon Prime member to receive special deals, discounts and delivery perks.”

Those surveyed showed that they would most likely buy (in decreasing order) electronic goods, books, clothes, shoes, music, and videos from Amazon Australia. Amazon Prime (a free and fast delivery subscription for $US100 per year) tends to make people spend more. Food was of least interest, according to the respondents (only a few were aware of Amazon Now, for delivering groceries under an hour).

No auto parts were mentioned in the study but clearer younger shoppers and consumers are voting with their wallets, driving the change which will pick up pace with Amazon’s arrival regardless of sector.

Will Amazon Australia do auto parts?

We’re not sure but if they do, the US experience provides some clues as to what might happen here.

In January 2017, Amazon US announced it had set its sights on the US$50 billion do-it-yourself after-market auto parts business. As a result, shares of auto parts retailers in the U.S. fell sharply with Autozone Inc, seeing a 5.1 percent slump in one day.

According to one Wall Street analyst, Amazon’s auto parts business could expand by as much as 50% in the first year. A simple, quoted example to illustrate why.

Dorman 902-407 auxiliary water pump currently costs (US)$90.70 on Amazon and the same part costs (US)$124.99 on AutoZone’s website.

Dorman-Auto

Amazon has been able to achieve this because other parts retailers are focusing on obtaining deals with foreign, private-label part manufacturers. This makes the parts retailers more profitable, but not the local part manufacturers.

An executive at an auto parts manufacturer even said that this reduced the loyalty of the manufacturers to these chain retailers.

Meanwhile, Amazon is paying US auto parts manufacturers up to 30 per cent more for their products on a direct purchase and supply.

Its claimed that Amazon has already reached the ‘tipping point’ to dislodge U.S. auto parts giants like O’Reilly Auto Parts and Genuine Auto Parts from their hold of the U.S. auto parts market.  The same article quotes that “Amazon has struck supply contracts with some of the largest parts makers including Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp (NASDAQ: FDML), Dorman Products Inc, Robert Bosch GmbH and Cardone Industries Inc, NY Post reported on Sunday, citing sources. (http://nyp.st/2k8Ibhq)”

“The majority of us now are selling directly to Amazon.” Said one auto parts executive.

And the changes aren’t just aimed at retail and e-commerce. By September last year, Amazon started offering same-day auto parts delivery in 40 U.S. cities, at prices averaging 23 percent less than other aftermarket auto parts retailers (according to investment banking firm Jefferies LLC). This makes Amazon more attractive for workshops and trade customers too.

Meanwhile, in November last year, Amazon also started selling select Fiat Chrysler cars in Italy. This could be a clue to further disruption moving in to the new car retailing area as well.

How can sellers compete with Amazon?

“Adapt and adapt quickly”, says retail king Gerry Harvey of retail giant Harvey Norman, in the same ABC News interview previously mentioned. Also in that interview, Brad Stone, Bloomberg correspondent and author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon says that, in North America, retailers that have successfully survived Amazon’s onslaught (like Nordstrom) have great customer service, generous return policy, personal shopping guides – something that, by nature, Amazon cannot compete with.

Instead of fighting it out on price and range of selection, “you might get them [Amazon] on convenience, because it still does takes two days, or maybe a day, for something to appear on your doorstep”, Stone says.

With auto parts, some workshops and trade customers are spoilt with virtual “on-demand” deliveries from a variety of providers. But, is it too far-fetched to imagine an Amazon drone delivering a fuel filter on to the workshop forecourt?

Amazon will not go unchallenged

Just earlier this year, Alibaba set up its Australia & New Zealand headquarters in Melbourne. Alibaba’s ANZ director, Maggie Zhou, has been quoted as saying their goal is “to build the entire operating infrastructure needed to enable local businesses to expand globally” – competing with the advantages offered by Amazon to local manufacturers in terms of logistics, cloud computing and more.

Amazon may also be facing a threat from within. McDuling says Amazon has been criticised heavily for the grueling conditions in their warehouses … and, in Australia … we have stricter protections on things like that … we have a different attitude on issues on workplace laws and overtime pay”.

A time of great change nonetheless

The move toward online retail and e-commerce in general is growing at over 10 percent per annum and Amazon’s entrance on the Aussie stage will accelerate that further as it makes it easier for consumers to buy online.

Based on above, DIY auto parts customers are enjoying greater choice of brands and online sellers with evidence that garages and trade customers are using these options more for non-time critical purchases. This is a predictable change happening across all sectors.

However, the biggest disruption in the auto parts space relates to logistics, supply chain and distribution relationships. The U.S. experience suggests there are opportunities for brands to establish strong links with online sellers that might re-energise a more traditional brand focus partnership model.

Value-adding becomes even more important with efficient and streamlined operations having an edge over traditional models.

These changes continue to underline the importance of data and standards. All the major online retailers and channels use ACES/PIES for North America and TecDoc for other markets like Europe and Australia.

Good data also means quality images, rich content, enhanced meta data and meaningful text and materiel that is properly catalogued and presented for display, publishing and search indexing.

Fundamentally, good data increasingly means good visibility for you and your business.

Talk to Enform about our solutions for good data and e-commerce deployment.

 

Enform E-Commerce Integration

By | Announcements, Automotive, eBay, ecommerce, Google, Industry, Instagram, SEO, Social Media, tools, Web Store | No Comments

Enform Specialises in eCommerce

 

Enform enable Online Retailers to build and grow marketplaces, audiences and advertising reach. Utilising knowledge and experience we work with you to build a multi-channel, multi-market business that integrates with your systems to provide scalable options.

With each business utilising different systems to deliver pricing, inventory and rich content for their listings – virtually every integration is a bespoke development that needs proper planning and management to ensure economic and efficient delivery. Read More

Start preparing for eBay’s ditching of active content

By | Announcements, eBay, ecommerce | No Comments

To create a better mobile experience, make pages load faster, and reduce security risks, eBay has decided to phase out ‘Active Content’ in all item description pages by June, 2017. Active content includes JavaScript, plugins, Flash, and form actions. After June, 2017, if active content is still in your item descriptions, they will not show properly and will cause a poor buyer experience – or worse –  prevent buyers from making a purchase. eBay will also be ditching active content in eBay Store Pages later on in 2017. eBay wants all its sellers to be prepared for this coming change.

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Six SEO Tips for 2016

By | Blog, SEO, Social Media | No Comments

SEO Tips

With the very fast and frequent changes in Google’s search algorithms doing SEO is not what it used to be. What were cardinal rules for basic SEO a few years ago barely remain effective today for getting your website to the first page of a Google search, much less to the top of the results. Since the rules have changed, how you do SEO should change too.

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Grow Your eCommerce and Digital Capability At a Fraction Of The Cost

By | Adwords, Blog, BPO, eBay, ecommerce, Outsourcing, SEO, Web Store | No Comments

                       Outsource 1

As more  companies plan to grow their capability in the eCommerce space to satisfy the insatiable demands of their customers for online research and purchase, many small to medium businesses are struggling with the skill-sets and costs required to hire new, or train existing staff, to manage this strategy extension.

In particular, auto parts and fitment stuff can be very tricky but we can help with any complex data sets Read More

Facebook’s new ‘friends & family first’ algorithm: What businesses should know

By | Announcements, Facebook, Social Media | No Comments

facebookchanges

Facebook once again tweaks its news feed algorithm (see this post for a history of Facebook algorithm and other changes). This time, it’s ‘friends and family first’ – what’s being shared from friends and family will now be prioritised over posts shared by business and news media pages, rendering them less prominent or less visible to Facebook users.

This will lessen traffic to many business and news media sites that are dependent on sharing articles in their Facebook pages.

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Google Scraps Sidebar Ads, Adwords Rivalry Intensifies

By | Adwords, Google, SEO | No Comments

Google remains the world’s top search engine, and any change it imposes will substantially affect us and you, our clients, and all those who live and breathe digital marketing. February marked this year’s biggest Google modification – the unveiling of a new SERPs layout on desktops with significant consequences to digital marketers and Adwords clients worldwide.
In a nutshell, the changes are: Ads

  • No more text ads on the right rail of desktop search results
  • Four text ads instead of three to show above organic results
  • Three text ads to show below organic results
  • Text ads on SERPs goes down to seven from about eleven
  • Product listings and Knowledge Panels to show on right sidebar

What to expect from the changes?As we continue to gather and analyse available data concerning recent changes in desktop SERPs, we take note that the following are highly likely:
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Enform Ebay auto parts sales index shows 25% growth on 2014

By | Announcements, Automotive, eBay, ecommerce | No Comments

ebay_australia_policiesEnforms focus on e-commerce and digital marketing has meant a lot of experience with e-tailing and B2C solutions particularly for the auto parts aftermarket. Ebay is one of the largest retail sales channels for auto parts worldwide and the Australian site is one of the largest market places for auto parts in Australia with an estimated TTV (total transactional value) in excess of $600 mil for 2015 calendar year.

This makes it a useful measure for the health and future prospects of this growing area of online selling. So thanks to some handy online tools, Enform has built its Ebay auto parts sales index to track sales growth to provide advice and insights for its customers.

The key criteria used to build and maintain this index are:

  • Filtering for sales under “Car & Truck Parts” category only so we exclude marine, motor cycle, camping and other non-auto parts products
  • Total and individual sales by a selection of 50+ individual Ebay.com.au sellers
  • Total and individual sales by a selection of 20+ key product types or keywords used in listing titles
  • Total and individual sales by a selection of 65+ product brands or brand names used in listing titles

The data has been collated each month for over a year providing an index that can be used to track total growth and changes across a variety of metrics. Enform will aim to provide snapshots of this data from time to time but this resource is also available to customers that would like specific data, product segments or competitor information researched or reported on.
This month, we’d like to summarise some of the key metrics of the last few months to help provide some guidance to online auto parts sellers. Some examples include;

Total October 2015 growth on 2014 exceeds 25%
Regardless of the metric used, sales of Car & Truck Parts category grew between 25-27% in October 2015 when compared with 2014. This shows a consistent pattern for the calender year in general.

  • Stand out growing product types include filters at 74%, towbars at 43%, tyres at 93%
  • Poor performers include coilovers that dropped 32% while performance category filters slumped by 13% year on year

October is a relatively poor month overall with 18.5% lower sales than August
Based on TTV across all metrics, October is a relatively poor sales month with many believing school holidays and Christmas lead up dampening demand. Using our selection of “Sellers”, this equates to 18.5% lower TTV when compared with the August peak which seems to be the top month recently regardless of metric used.

  • 30% of all Sellers went backward in October 2015 compared with October 2014
  • However 52% of all Sellers sales grew by more than 30% compared with 2014

Brands and brand names grow faster than product types but slower than sellers.
Seems confusing but what we’re saying here is that while established brand names are growing faster than simple product names, these brands are not growing as fast as the market place overall as measured by the growth in Sellers TTV. Possible interpretations here inlcude;

  • Brand names are not as relevant when compared with overall demand via the market place and for established sellers
  • Brands are emerging and growing faster than can be measured at the moment
  • Home-brands are growing with Sellers offering their own solutions including kits and bundles

As you can see, there are a lot of potential opportunities to analyse and help understand but there seems little doubt that this channel is the engine room of growth for this important segment of auto parts and accessories sales in Australia and wordlwide.

Feel free to contact myself or the Enform team about how we can help your business perform better in auto parts e-commerce.