U.S. eCommerce market booming, growing

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Updated Jan 27, 2015

U.S. eCommerce totaled more than $304 billion in 2014 and is expected to hit $491 billion by 2018.

Auto and parts sales are expected to grow from $31 billion in 2014 to more than $51 in just four years.

David Seewack, CEO of FindItParts, speaking at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Last Vegas Monday, says mobile commerce reached $70 billion in 2014 and could rocket more than $100 billion by 2018.

Even with that kind of explosive growth, Seewack says eCommerce isn’t the voice of doom and gloom for brick and mortar businesses.

“eCommerce is an extension to every one of our businesses,” Seewack says. “What it does is make (consumers) smarter.”

Increasingly people are browsing online to gather information and going to the store to actually buy it, a process dubbed “click and mortar.”

Preparing for eCommerce, content is king. You need images, technical specifications, features and benefits, categorization, cross references and year, make and model – the Holy Grail of eCommerce content.

“Look at your own products on my site,” he says. “Look internally and ask yourself, ‘Am I providing the best content for my products?’ The better information you provide, the easier it is for someone to look something else.”

Brands who have invested in quality content have seen sales jump 100-plus percent year-over-year on FindItParts. Seewack says it has also increase the cost of the order, increased customer frequency and given them a metric to measure quality content.

“We get better performance with brands without good content,” he says.

James Chenier, vice president of aftermarket sales and marketing for Volvo Trucks North America, says eCommerce is important because it drives uptime.

“Specifically, customers being able to look up some information on their own,” he says, adding there a benefit of earlier repair start time and parts delivery.”

Chenier says eCommerce allows those who embrace it the opportunity to accept orders when their business is closed and takes pressures off the phone.

Rob Phillips, President of Phillips Industries, says price isn’t necessarily the the no. 1 factor in determining when customers turn to eCommerce.

“We’ve been careful to not let (price) be an advantage,” he says.

Chenier says eCommerce isn’t always the place for bargains. It’s simply a place to buy what you need for a price you’re willing to pay.

“I think it’s really important to develop a value proposition that goes beyond the price and the part,” he says. “There are some retailers that are doing a really good job of just selling the convenience of eCommerce.”

But, if you find yourself challenged on price, Seewack says its important that you hold strong to the prices that meet our operational goals.

“A business that is taking parts and selling parts at cost plus 5 (percent) isn’t going to be in business very long,” Seewack says.

Charles Johnson, CEO OptiCat, says all things being equal, common business principals will still prevail across the platform.

“It’s the most effective distribution system that is servicing the process of the sale that will win in the end,” he says. “The opportunity to touch customers in this context is one of the most historic opportunities we’ve had in this lifetime.”

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