Big Automotive Parts Retailers Suck at Providing Basic Product Page Information

Automotive parts sales are booming as people are holding on to their vehicles longer. A recent report showed that the average age of vehicles on US roadways rose to 12.2 years, setting a new record.

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

There are a variety of reasons for this trend.

The pandemic caused a move back to personal vehicles from public transportation or rideshare services.

Meanwhile, supply chain challenges drastically impacted new car production resulting in new car prices soaring on dealer lots.

Despite the current high inflation rate, it is still not uncommon today to find dealer add-on stickers adding thousands of dollars to the price of a typical family vehicle.

As long as car makers struggle to meet demand, new car prices will remain high. And market normalization will take at least until 2023.

Some buyers sought price relief by shopping for a pre-owned vehicle, just to find those prices had skyrocketed too, with some selling at or near new car prices.

But it’s not just car prices that have gone through the roof. Car insurance premiums also rose above pre-pandemic levels as costs for replacement automotive parts soared for the same reasons that kept automakers from building new cars; availability.

With these and other related factors all playing a role in why people hold on to their cars, automotive parts sales jumped to keep these aging vehicles running.

According to a new report by Content Status, “global eCommerce automotive aftermarket is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.6%, reaching $143.9B by 2028.”

Online commerce sellers have a massive opportunity to profit from this trend.

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

Automotive Parts Retailers Lag Behind in eCommerce

Unfortunately, it appears that automotive parts retailers are not as savvy at eCommerce as they should be. 

Content Status analyzed 7,287 products in 5 categories on six online retail sites and found an alarming 74% of product pages failed basic eCommerce content requirements.

To better understand content health requirements, it developed Health Scores for sellers, categories, and brands.

This Health Score factors all the basic requirements that a retailer or seller controls, including the Title, Description, Bullets, and Images.

While Content Health did not include Video, PDF, and 360 spin usage in its Health Score, it evaluated their usage separately under the heading “enhanced content.”

The six sites included in the research 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 for eBay sellers. On the eBay platform, sellers can provide similar product details in their listings, including some of the enhanced content elements discussed in the report.

Among the six online retailers included in the report, Amazon and Walmart received the highest content Health Score.

But even these two retailers scored only 3.2 out of a possible 5, further highlighting how poorly the other four automotive specialist retailers did.

Here is a look at how the six retailers performed with basic content:

  • As already mentioned, 74% of product pages failed 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 averaged more than 500 characters to describe a product, while the four automotive retailers averaged a paltry 214 characters.
  • The same four retailers performed not much better with titles, averaging only 38 characters. Amazon led the field 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 specialist retailers in terms of enhanced content, but Amazon still dominated.

  • Advance Auto scored highest with video content usage, followed by Amazon and NAPA.
  • While O’Reilly did not receive a score for video usage, it ranked highest for 360 spin usage.
  • In overall enhanced content usage, 68% of Amazon product pages displayed at least one enhanced content element (Video, PDF, or 360 spin).

The Bottom Line

It is somewhat astonishing how poorly these six online retailers performed as a group in providing basic product page content.

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

Despite their apparent success at running retail stores, the leading automotive parts chains appear to struggle to compete online with Amazon and Walmart.

This is good news for small business owners as they have a chance to compete online by just doing it better than the big chains.

Basic content is the key to good SEO; that is not a secret.

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

On eBay, there are some additional listing page enhancements sellers can implement to maximize the performance of automotive parts listings. 

It takes time and action, but considering how poorly the six retailers managed the product page basics, the effort doesn’t have to be perfect.

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

Business owners in niche markets can also use content marketing strategies to drive more eyes to their online business.

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

With automotive parts sales growth expected to stay 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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