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

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                       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

eBay Changes Listing Rules For Product Identifiers from 1st July

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ebay_logo

eBay Australia is changing the listing rules for product identifiers in key categories including auto parts. 

As PARts Australia say – “Ignore it and you may pay a penalty in poor ranking. Embrace it and you may leap ahead of your competition.”

Increasing the accuracy of listing information is an important part of eBay ongoing work to improve the marketplace experience for all users.

That’s why, starting 30 June this year, all new listings of branded items in New and Manufacturer refurbished condition will be required to include product identifiers including the item’s brand, manufacturer part number (MPN), and global trade item numbers (GTINs) such as Universal Product Codes (UPCs) and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) in select categories.

eBay uses these product identifiers to help buyers quickly find the items they’re looking for. When you’re selling, including these product identifiers not only has the potential to increase your items’ visibility in eBay search results and navigation, it can improve your placement in search engines like Google and Bing, too.

Read more about the eBay new policy and how important it is for eBay sellers and in particular, those selling branded auto parts.

Power Retail Talks to MotoParts About Auto Parts E-tailing

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MotoParts-266x266

Selling automotive parts online has proved challenging for MotoParts, but developing a parts-centric approach has helped the company progress. Power Retail chats to MotoParts’ Scott Shillinglaw to find out more.

With a long history in the B2B commerce space supplying wholesale auto parts throughout NSW and Australia, MotoParts decided to launch into a completely new sales channel to leverage their existing business model. As one of the largest online marketplaces, eBay was the obvious choice for MotoParts to start their online presence and drive a whole new section of growth for the business.

This decision was prompted by the rapid growth of the Australian online automotive parts sales industry (estimated to be worth $380.3 million in 2014-2015 and growing annually at a compounded rate of 17 percent) centred on New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland – areas that have the highest number of kilometres driven.

Power Retail magazine caught up with Scott Shillinglaw, Online Director for MotoParts, to see how the transition came about and how they used PARts Australia for data and technology.

Read more about MotoParts’ Parts-Centric Approach using PARts.

MotoParts Dives into eBay with an E-commerce Solution

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MotoParts on eBayRecognized as one of Australia’s top distributors of automotive parts and car accessories, MotoParts boasts of a colourful history in the B2B segment of the market, offering wholesale auto parts throughout NSW and Australia.

In an effort to leverage their current business model, the company decided to dive into a new sales channel, opening a new section of potential growth for the business. As one of the world’s largest marketplaces on the Internet, it made sense for the company to jumpstart their online presence on eBay, this according to MotoParts online director Scott Shillinglaw.

The Need for an E-commerce Solution

To launch a new online sales channel on eBay, MotoParts needed a comprehensive e-commerce solution capable of handling hundreds to thousands of product listings—a solution that could keep up with MotoParts surging online business.

According to Shillinglaw, MotoParts required a robust e-commerce solution that could help manage product feeds, with the additional feature of transforming product data and making it ready for eBay listing. Moreover, the solution had to mesh with the company’s ERP system, in particular, product, pricing, and inventory data, together with eBay and MotoParts’s e-commerce website.

The challenge with automotive parts suppliers is that the complexity and sheer volume of product parts information makes it difficult to find a working e-commerce solution—one that could withstand the impending massive increase in automobile models and corresponding parts within the next few years.

Shillinglaw said that MotoParts needed their e-commerce data to be in a coherent format, allowing their e-commerce managers to list products on eBay by part and vehicle compatibility, all in such a way that entices customers to make a purchase. If the product isn’t presented in a compelling manner, it won’t lead to sales, he adds.

A PARts Driven Solution

MotoParts turned to an e-commerce solution recommended by PARts, an online solution Enform is certified to provide.

With the new e-commerce solution, MotoParts was able to automate and integrate all their product data into one easy-to-access database, through a tool specifically designed for automotive parts content.

MotoParts can now manage and access their product data in one centralised solution, with orders placed on eBay extracted and standardized into a singular format—integrated with the company’s own ERP system. And you can read more about how MotoParts went online profitably with PARts.

MotoParts eBay Listing

Benefits

After just a few months of using the PARts-recommended e-commerce solution to open a new sales channel on eBay, MotoParts saw a surge in total revenue by at least 5 percent. The complete MotoParts e-commerce solution was also fully functional in just a few months. The company also saw a drastic reduction in resource time and IT expenditures.

But more importantly, the addition of a solid e-commerce solution into the company’s business foundation means they can now open as many online sales channels as they want, with very little work required.

You can read more about PARts and auto data opportunities here

Australian Automotive Aftermarket Sign Historic Repair and Service Information Sharing Agreement

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AAAA_New_141216

 

Finally, after five years of intense campaigning by the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), the heads of the biggest stakeholders in the automotive industry (both from supply and service sectors) have signed a historic Heads of Agreement on December 15 to free the consumers in their choice of vehicle service suppliers and repairers.

The move ensures that vehicle telematics (information gathered by sensors on vehicles for a wide variety of purposes, including tracking, navigation, safety and mobile data) in this case, information very critical to having one’s vehicle repaired and serviced, will be made fully available and not hoarded by just a few players who wish to control the market.

This means even the smallest vehicle service and repair business will have access to critical information in order to fix, service, and fine-tune vehicles – information which was previously only available to manufacturers and their preferred dealers. This levels the playing field for small aftermarket businesses

Bruce Billson, Federal Minister for Small Business, said that the agreement is “a significant achievement for the rights of consumers and all automotive businesses, big and small.”

With the signing of the agreement, aftermarket enthusiasts now have a choice on getting the most affordable and efficient vehicle repair and servicing without fears that work done by small vehicle service businesses will be not up to legal and market standards. This means safe and professional vehicle maintenance everywhere in Australia – a very welcome news indeed for Australian aftermarket enthusiasts.

The agreement includes:

  1. Guidelines and governing bodies in the resolution of disputes;
  2. Safeguards to make repair information fully available (even if for a price) to all stakeholders; and
  3. The use of emerging technologies in collecting, processing, transmitting, and diagnosing vehicle telematics while at the same time providing safeguards to owners of data – often the consumers. A report on the progress of these emerging technologies is to be submitted within a year after signing the agreement.

The agreement’s signatories include representatives from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (the car industry), the Australian Automotive Dealers Association (the new car dealers), the Australian Motor Industry Federation (retail motor trades), the Australian Automobile Association (car owners) and the AAAA.

AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity was quoted as saying “the agreement is a win-win-win for all parties. It promotes consumer choice for owners of 17 million vehicles – particularly those in regional areas where there are fewer dealerships. It helps 22,000 small workshops remain business. And the vehicle manufacturers will earn a fair price for the data that they share.”

This is a welcome news not only for Australian aftermarket enthusiasts but for the whole Australian aftermarket sector as well.

Even as Australia’s vehicle manufacturing supply sector declined – underscored by Australian car manufacturer Holden’s decision to stop making cars in Australia by 1917 – the automotive aftermarket manufacturing sector surprisingly grew – fueled by Australian boom-time cash and Australians’ passion for vehicle customisation. The aftermarket sector is a $4 billion/year industry in terms of sales, employing 36 percent (16,000 out of 45,000) of Australian auto industry workers. These auto workers, along with aftermarket enthusiasts, all stand to benefit from the historic vehicle repair and service information sharing agreement.

Enform strongly supports the automotive aftermarket and see’s great opportunities for our customers in this area with knowledge share and marketing through information.

The Current State of Motor Sport in Australia, Marketing Opportunities

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Motor Sport in Australia

Motorsport involvement whether as a participant, sponsor or parts supplier can provide some big Brand affiliation benefits for your business or Brand.   These need to be articulated through all your communications both on and offline, and above and below the line. Successful cross promotion and association is an important way of linking your brand to the BIG business that is Motorsport.

A Look at the Current State of Motor Sport

CurrentState

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), the governing organisation in Australia’s motor sport scene, recently published a study highlighting the important role played by the motor sport industry in the country. The study, conducted by multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young, delved into the economic contributions, value add, and employment figures surrounding the industry in 2013.

Also included in the study are figures on the number of participants, car clubs, and motor sport venues across Australia, with data sourced from more than 4300 surveys completed by clubs, category managers, and other participants, as well as financial statements and databases figures from governing bodies.

Some interesting statistics gleaned from the Ernst & Young study include:

Volunteers

Around 17,419 licensed volunteer officials in Australia are to be thanked for running most of the country’s annual motor sport events.

Culture

Motor sport commands a sizeable share of the Australia’s sports industry, being the fourth most watched sport in the country. In addition, more than 80 percent of those surveyed reported ‘being with family and friends’ as an important reason for their involvement with the scene.

Regional Locations

Over 30 percent of participants come from regional areas. Meanwhile, 85 percent of motor sport venues are accessible to those in regional locations.

Competitors

Motor sport competitors reportedly spend anywhere between $12,000 and $15,000 per year on sport-related activities. For those in the aftermarket industry, it’s worth noting that competitors spend $60,000 motor sport vehicle purchases and initial modifications.

Venues

The biggest impediment to continued participation in motor sport events is the current condition of tracks and venues. The majority of those surveyed claimed they would participate more if these were improved.

Participation

Participation

Over 150,000 people participate in motor sport all over Australia, whether through competing, officiating events, or participating in car club activities and events. The country’s motor sport industry consists of the following closely related components.

  • Auto related industries like the aftermarket industry
  • Competitors
  • Officials
  • Car clubs
  • Governing bodies
  • Events and pro teams
  • Tracks and venues
  • Other participants (non-competing car club members)

Motor sport also encompasses a wide range of disciplines, such as:

  • Speed
  • Circuit
  • Speedway
  • Rally
  • Drag racing
  • Off-road
  • Go-kart racing

Both Circuit and Speed take up the largest share in audience and participation, direct output, employment, and valued add among motor sport disciplines in Australia. Together, the two account for more than 60 percent of Australian motor sport industry output.

Industry Output and Value

Australia’s motor sport industry is directly responsible for more than $2.7 billion in direct industry output, $1.2 billion in added direct value, and generating more than 16,300 jobs.

Output&Value

Other Benefits

Australia’s motor sport industry provides other notable benefits, chief among them its positive contribution community development.

Motor sport has deep roots in Australian culture, with an influence encompassing more than just the 76,377 people who compete or officiate in events. For instance:

  • Half of all motor sport participants, or 76,775 of 153,152 participants, may not be competing or officiating in events, but they are active in other club activities related to the industry.
  • In 2013, the 1,391 motor sport car clubs that took part in the survey held around 6,247 events.  The 460 car clubs affiliated with CAMS held 4,311 events, with more than half being non-competitive social events.
  • Family participation is strong in the motor sport industry, with 80 percent of survey participants reporting ‘to be with family and friends’ as being ‘very important’ and ‘somewhat important’ when choosing to participate in motor sport.

Enform can help you capitalise on your association/involvement with Motorsport by working with you to create Marketing strategies that will maximise the exposure of your Brand using the mega Motor Sport Industry Publicity machine. Contact us today to see how we can help.

PARts DB Launches a New Website

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PARTsWebsite

PARts DB, a TecDoc integrated automotive product and fitment e-cosystem has launched its new website, viewable at www.partsdb.com.au

PARts is a Sydney based venture that has been changing the way Australian automotive suppliers, wholesalers and sellers have been using product data to enhance their business.

TecDoc is the world’s largest automotive product and fitment data aggregator and is owned by the parts suppliers themselves. It was formed in 1998 to create a uniform vehicle and product description standard to allow over 500 suppliers to broadcast and share their product data with their customers. Through PARts, Australian suppliers and brands can now connect to sellers and the market providing their product data to their customer using a global, unified standard.

The PARts data feeds and synchronisation allows manufacturers, wholesalers and dealers alike to access PARts supplier data and TecDoc subscribed supplier data covering over 500 leading global brands and local brands. The system is well suited for retail and workshop performance, 4×4 and accessory markets.

PARts is a permission based system and allows manufacturers and brand owners to manage their data and control its distribution. Parts distributors and sellers can also manage and control the brands and supplier data they see while adding and enhancing the data with custom titles and notation for their own network.

The new website portal allows potential customers to learn about the functionality of the PARts system and learn about how it integrates with a variety of other services and software products, such as eBay MVL, Autosoft, Peach Business Software, Flow, Channel Advisor and Neto.

The website provides a wide variety of links so customers can find the integrated solution that suits their business including PARts Console for real time data management, PARts B2 for B2B e-commerce and a variety of links and resources for total product management.

Enform is an experienced integration partner for PARts, we can assist in getting your PARts product database to your customers, whether it be through your website, B2B solution, eBay or otherwise. We believe that PARts forms the foundation for an extremely effective product marketing strategy, and with appropriate integration it can dramatically expand the information your customers have about your products and increase sales.

The Future of Automotive Parts Retailing in North America; Are you Prepared for Digitalization?

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An interesting insight in to automotive parts market online and possible future scenarios. Its focus is on North America but as with many aspects of this industry, Australia very often follows these trends.

[slideshare id=26365980&doc=thefutureofautomotivepartsretailing-130919204410-phpapp02&w=650&h=500]

The Future of Automotive Parts Retailing in North America: Are you Prepared for Digitalization? from Frost and Sullivan

eBay Adds TecDoc Product Fitment Data Service

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eBay PARts TecDoc

eBay auto parts and accessory sellers can now link to product and fitment data for over 500 global and Australian supplier brands for direct display and listing on eBay Australia.

TecDoc Australia and eBay Australia have concluded negotiations that allow eBay sellers to access TecDoc Parts Data securely simplifying online selling for auto parts and accessories. This deal means that any eBay parts and accessories seller who concludes a contract with TecDoc for a data package can have that data package made available within the eBay environment.

“Its the logical next step to add supplier product and fitment data to the vehicle KTYPE information already powering the eBay vehicle look-up. This makes it that much easier for eBay sellers to get on with selling leaving the data management to suppliers. Our arrangement with Enform PARts means local suppliers can also enjoy the benefits.“  says Andrew Mattock from TecDoc Asia Pacific.

TecDoc data packages include product, fitment and image data for over 1.0 million part links to Australian and import vehicles.  This data includes vehicle fitment links and is maintained by the supplier allowing the data subscriber or seller to list all the available product and fitment details. You can read more about TecDoc here.

This is facilitated by Enform PARts of Sydney who also aggregate and distribute product and fitment data for many leading local suppliers using the TecDoc back bone. This allows TecDoc global data to be blended and distributed with local supplier data. Enform PARts will deploy all of the relevant linked data into the active section of eBay Australia allowing the eBay seller to focus on merchandising using their price and stock information.

PARts is a permission based system so suppliers and sellers have full control of who sees their data and in what environment. PARts includes a full management and admin system in the cloud allowing suppliers and sellers to interact and manage their data. The key point being, it’s the suppliers and sellers data. You can read more about PARts here.

The service mirrors similar agreements between TecDoc and eBay UK, Germany and other online channels. You can read more about eBay and parts compatibility here.

The Importance of New Sales Channels for Auto Parts

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Tmall.com is part of Alibaba with annual group sales larger than Amazon and eBay combined

Tmall.com is part of Alibaba with annual group sales larger than Amazon and eBay combined

 

Giving the customer what they want is one of the most important goals of marketers and that includes being in the places they want to shop.

A simple enough statement but not always considered by many in the automotive aftermarket parts industry.

The last few years have seen an explosion in online retail sales of auto parts. Major players like Amazon and eBay are enjoying significant growth in many sectors of online retail sales and that clearly includes auto parts and related products. IBISWorld reports a 13.3% annualised growth in Australian online automotive parts & accessories sales between 2008 to 2013 while US numbers are even stronger.

Clearly we are seeing a migration toward online fulfilment of retail consumer demand while trade and reseller purchases are moving toward closed user group solutions offered by the industry wholesalers and their B2B portals. Many of the same wholesalers are also offering retail solutions to compliment existing bricks and mortar services with many more building virtual stores and online outlets that often exceed the service delivery offer available through their retail store fronts, try free shipping direct to the customers door!

Future projections are equally bullish with continuing double digit growth expected across all categories with reports specifically mentioning traditional “hard parts” categories including..

“The parts and accessories of bodies and bumpers segment gained market share slightly over the past five years due to the essential nature of these products. This product segment includes motor vehicle chassis-frames, floor boards, sides, front or rear panels, luggage compartments, doors and door parts, bonnets and wings…”

So it’s not just “S & G” lines (as the hard parts purists sometimes call accessories) but all manner of parts categories including crash repair and body parts. This is an important misconception that poses one of the biggest threats to traditional parts sales thinking and is just one area of significant risk to parts suppliers and sellers.

At Enform, we try to advise our clients on changing trends while helping both sides of the aftermarket industry adapt to the changing nature of customer expectations and their channel preferences because after all, it’s about giving the customer what they want and also where they want it.

eBay is one of the leading players in this space and though there are other channels, our experience in this area allows us to observe the industry response from a number of levels and the following points help to illustrate some of the relative risks and opportunities for the industry overall.

eBay Motors offers fitment lookup for auto parts and accessories

eBay Motors offers fitment lookup for auto parts and accessories

 

The risks and opportunities for parts suppliers and manufacturers;

–          Younger, hungrier and more nimble brands have everything to gain by embracing the new online channels to establish sales quickly while building a brand in a growing channel

–          Older, more established brands perceive channel conflict or simply fear change. This inertia prevents engagement and proactive involvement in the emerging channels and the emerging outlets

–          At a time of shrinking hard-parts sales pro-rata, the new online channels are growing  to the benefit of participating new and emerging brands at the expense of non-participating brands. Simply put, many of the established brands market share is shrinking through inaction as newer brands fill the demand void

–          The new channels understand the importance and opportunity offered by data standards and these are being supported by new brands as an effective way to market without the need for conventional paper-based cataloguing and marketing.

–          The rapid growth of these channels means a new brand can quickly and efficiently offer solutions to customers and ride the growth wave at a lower cost to market, neutralising many of the advantages of established brands

–          OEM brands have standards and systems that they use to great effect to distribute genuine parts.

As for parts sellers;

–          Online channels are a great democratiser for sellers too, it costs a lot less and doesn’t take as long to “build” and fit out an online retail store

–          Agile and data savvy sellers combine with online channels and emerging brands to offer solutions at varying price points, quickly.

–          Existing bricks and mortar sellers see online sales as a natural conflict rather than as an opportunity that also taps in to the changing market.

–          Traditional sellers tend to perceive “listing” or system fees as an impost or extra cost rather than as a more efficient replacement for other physical costs they already bear.

–          Traditional supplier and brands reluctance to participate or support sellers in online activity creates a tension that often leads to inertia, just too hard.

–          Meanwhile, emerging brands look for and cultivate relationships with online sellers knowing that they can demonstrate and deliver a win-win

–          Online sellers are generally more open to technology and solutions like cloud computing, SaaS applications and shared data knowing that the real USP (unique selling proposition) is a combination of range, price and service delivered where the customers are.

–          Genuine parts through dealers are effectively sold using data and system standards.

Incumbents naturally resist change. That applies to every level of the distribution chain and across all industries but some are more resistant than others.

The area of data standards is particularly tough as suppliers and sellers struggle to defend and justify their own carefully cultivated data silo’s. Having worked in the aftermarket for a few decades, I’ve seen the changes to fitment cataloguing and product data creation and management.

Once the digital age picked up speed with the take up of the web in the 90’s, we saw the beginning of the age of data-divergence as more and more suppliers and sellers built their own data solutions imagining that this would somehow provide a significant and durable commercial edge. In many cases it did and some of these are still working well however for many others, it  proved to be a distraction and a costly diversion from the core business of making and selling parts.

After all, how many different versions of a Commodore VT 6 cylinder sedan data record do we really need?

The 00’s saw a maturing of the discreet data silo model as more and more sellers realised that having “another industry standard” that their suppliers would need to contribute to was actually working against them both in terms of cost and support. Meanwhile, the European parts suppliers created the TecDoc industry standard (as one example) and the AAIA in the US launched the ACES/PIES system to help their industry.

The last few years have seen an acceleration of the trend towards standardisation with more and more suppliers and sellers adopting some sort of standard, a time of data-convergence. This is good news for both the industry and consumer and helps the aftermarket compete better while supporting the aims of programs like the AAAA Choice of Repairer campaign.

Which leads us back to the real point and reason for the automotive parts aftermarket, selling more aftermarket products to auto parts consumers. Online channels are not a silver bullet to rescue flagging sales. It’s a different way to market and requires different skills and resources and doesn’t suit all types of products. However, according to the National Australia Bank, the value of annualised online retail sales for the 12 months to end February 2013 was $13.1 billion or 5.9% of all retail spending with a year-on-year growth of 19%*

If your online distribution strategy is not delivering that sort of growth rate your falling behind. Embrace the opportunity and make sure you’re visible where your customers shop.

*NAB Online Retail Sales Monthly Index – Feb 2013. Value excluding cafes, restaurants and takeaway food for a like-to-like comparison.