Major auto parts retailers fail to provide basic information on product pages

Auto parts sales are booming as people keep their vehicles longer. A recent report showed that the average age of vehicles on U.S. roads increased to 12.2 yearssetting a new record.

The average passenger car is even older, reaching a record 13.1 years.

There are various reasons for this trend.

The pandemic has caused a return to personal vehicles from public transport or ride-sharing services.

Meanwhile, supply chain challenges have had a huge impact on new car production, driving up new car prices at dealerships.

Despite today’s high rate of inflation, it’s not uncommon today to find extra stickers at the dealership adding thousands of dollars to the price of a typical family vehicle.

As long as automakers struggle to keep up with demand, new car prices will remain high. And market normalization will take at least until 2023.

Some buyers sought price relief by purchasing a used vehicle, only to find that those prices had skyrockets also, some selling at or near new car prices.

But it’s not just car prices that have skyrocketed. Car insurance premiums have also increased above pre-pandemic levels, as the costs of replacement auto parts have skyrocketed for the same reasons that have kept automakers from building new cars; availablity.

With these and other related factors all playing a role in why people cling to their cars, auto parts sales have surged to keep these aging vehicles running.

According to a new report by content status“The global e-commerce automotive aftermarket market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.6%, to reach $143.9 billion by 2028.”

E-commerce sellers have a huge opportunity to take advantage of this trend.

Even eBay, often slow to react to changing consumer interests, has stepped up its focus on the auto parts category in an effort to regain lost ground.

Auto parts retailers are lagging behind in e-commerce

Unfortunately, it seems auto parts retailers aren’t as e-commerce savvy as they should be.

Content Status analyzed 7,287 products in 5 categories across six online retail sites and found that 74% of product pages failed to meet basic e-commerce content requirements.

To better understand content health requirements, he developed health scores for sellers, categories, and brands.

This health score takes into account all the basic requirements that a retailer or seller controls, including title, description, bullet points, and images.

Although Content Health does not include the use of video, PDF, and 360-degree rotation in its health score, it did assess their use separately under the heading of “enhanced content.”

The six sites included in the search were Amazon, Walmart, Advance Auto, AutoZone, NAPA and O’Reilly.

Content Status did not include eBay in its research, but the information is still relevant to eBay sellers. On the eBay platform, sellers can provide similar product details in their listings, including some of the enhanced content items discussed in the report.

Of the six online retailers included in the report, Amazon and Walmart received the highest health score.

But even these two retailers only scored 3.2 out of a possible 5, further underscoring the poor performance of the other four automotive retailers.

Here’s a look at how the six retailers performed with core content:

  • As already mentioned, 74% of product pages failed to meet basic content requirements.
  • 30% of product titles did not include the brand name.
  • 64% of product descriptions did not include the brand name.
  • Amazon and Walmart used an average of over 500 characters to describe a product, while the four auto retailers used an average of a paltry 214 characters.
  • The same four retailers didn’t do much better with titles, averaging just 38 characters. Amazon led the pack with an average of 104 characters, and Walmart came in with a mediocre average of 69 characters in its product titles.
  • While 100% of product pages included at least one image, 43% used four images and 7% included eight images.

There were some bright spots among specialty retailers in terms of improved content, but Amazon still dominated.

  • Advance Auto scored the highest in video content usage, followed by Amazon and NAPA.
  • Although O’Reilly did not receive a score for the use of video, he ranked first for the use of 360 turns.
  • In overall Enhanced Content usage, 68% of Amazon product pages displayed at least one Enhanced Content item (video, PDF, or 360 spin).

The essential

It’s somewhat surprising how poor these six online retailers have performed as a group when it comes to delivering basic product page content.

General online retailers such as Amazon or Walmart should not outperform industry specialists, but this report shows otherwise.

Despite their apparent success in running retail stores, major auto parts chains appear to be struggling to compete online with Amazon and Walmart.

This is good news for small business owners, as they have the opportunity to compete online by doing better than the big chains.

Basic content is the key to good SEO; It’s not a secret.

For small online businesses or marketplace sellers, optimizing their product pages to beat this miserable performance by the big guys shouldn’t be difficult.

On eBay, sellers can implement some additional listings page enhancements to optimize the performance of auto parts listings.

It takes time and action, but given how poorly the product page basics are handled by all six retailers, the effort doesn’t have to be perfect.

In addition to better product pages, small online auto parts businesses should also focus on a niche market in order to distinguish themselves from large chains.

Business owners in niche markets can also use content marketing strategies to draw more attention to their online activity.

It’s hard in any category to compete with companies that can stock millions of items. Better to be a master of a niche segment within a big industry than a jack-of-all-trades.

With auto parts sales growth expected to remain in the double digits over the next five years, the window of opportunity is now. And the best way to attack the competition is to outperform them where they are weak.

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About Dwight E. McCray

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