Consumers, today, have the technology and the desire to search for goods any time of day and on any one of several platforms. It’s not uncommon for a search to begin as a tweet or text message on a smart phone, followed up on a tablet and completed in a web browser for pick-up in the store. In other words, transactions that used to follow a single channel – on-line or off-line – are now a complex web of allchannels of connectivity. Retailers refer to this phenomenon as omnichannel commerce and its importance to all aftermarket retailers and distributors cannot be overstated.
There’s a lot of attention being paid to online commerce and eTailing, recently. The Auto Care Association study describes eTailing as the fastest growing segment of aftermarket sales and forecasts it will reach 20% of total aftermarket sales by the end of the decade. This is significant because 55% ofwhat they measured as eTailing were purchases by commercial customers – shops, fleets and other B2B activity. Consumer purchases made up only 45% of the total and projected to see much slower growth than the commercial volume.
In 1965, Gordon Moore of Intel, father of Moore’s Law, postulated that the density of microprocessors on a chip would double (due to miniaturization) every 18-24 months. Recently, it appears that Moore’s Law has expanded to include a doubling of major announcements relative to online commerce in a similar time horizon. The past month alone saw three historic items that anyone with an interest in doing business online should take note of.
In recent columns we’ve written about the growth opportunities represented by on-line commerce. Ecommerce is effectively a store that never closes filled with infinite isle of product. But success is directly related to the quality, consistency and completeness of the product content found in your online store. In the digital aftermarket, the customer is no longer guided by a knowledgeable parts professional. Their purchase decisions are driven by the accuracy and completeness of the content on the screen. Nothing will turn off a customer faster than a missing image or an ambiguous product description.
If you’ve follow this column for the past several months you might get the idea that everyone is selling to everyone else online ... and those who aren’t are doomed. But, that’s not exactly true. The winners and losers in the age of digital distribution will be distinguished by “what” they sell as much as “how” they sell. We recently noted the relaunch of the Amazon B2B venture called Amazon Business (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzuLk28OiKY). In this iteration, they claim that “hundreds of millions of products” will be available with free two-day shipping on orders of $49 or more and business features including purchase order management and work flows.
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