The Ultimate Automotive eCommerce Guide for Creating the Best Shopping Experience

Best Practices for Automotive Ecommerce Site

Is your automotive eCommerce business taking advantage of every opportunity to create the best shopping experience and maximize revenue?

Consumers are more willing to spend time researching product options and conducting price comparisons than ever before thanks to better websites and more accurate search results. eCommerce websites are also taking additional steps to improve user experiences and differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Continue reading to discover what website components your business can incorporate into their online store to provide the best user experience possible for your customers and set yourself apart from the competition.

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Best Practices for an Automotive eCommerce Site

1 | Visually Compelling Home Page

Don’t turn away potential customers with an unattractive storefront. Leverage your eCommerce store’s home page to entice users to browse for products and complete a purchase. Consumers are more likely to submit private information, like payment information, to a professional looking website over one that appears dated and lacks attention to detail.

Tip: High quality images are a must-have item in auto parts website design. Incorporate large, high-resolution banner images to showcase featured products or limited-time promotions. Your online store should match the look and feel of your brick and mortar branding to maintain consistency, especially for customers who are familiar with your business. Find out what web design mistakes to avoid when building the best eCommerce store.

Independent Iron

2 | Year, Make, Model Lookup

Users visiting eCommerce stores in the automotive sector probably own a specific vehicle and know exactly what parts or accessories they are shopping for. Implement a year, make, model lookup feature to help customers easily locate products relevant to the vehicle they own. This feature should filter out unrelated products.

Tip: You must have adequate product data to implement this feature into your online store and for it to be beneficial to customers. In other words, you must have products assigned to appropriate categories and enough products listed for sale. Miva’s latest software release now includes faceted search functionality, which is ideally suited for this particular feature.

Cart Pros

3 | Intuitive Category Navigation

A well-organized navigation is critical to the success of an online store. The correct navigation bar should display your top level and child categories cleanly and should not require users to scroll. A fly out mega menu should be used for businesses with extensive product categories, while businesses with a smaller number of categories should use a simple drop down menu. Miva’s ReadyTheme website templates offer a variety of navigation styles to fit various sizes of product catalogs. Learn more about how to choose the right ReadyTheme for your online store.

Tip: Incorporate photos or icons in the navigation menu to help users quickly find what they are looking for. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for customers to have brand loyalty when it comes to automotive parts and gear. Provide users with the ability to shop by brand to generate more sales.

Sun Coast Parts

4 | Site Search

Allowing customers to search for specific products within a website is a key component of a carefully crafted user experience. A sophisticated site search will provide users with suggested search results and will return relevant products despite misspellings from users. The site search should also crawl product names, product descriptions, custom fields, etc. to find relevant data that can be displayed in the search results.

Tip: Miva recently unveiled a brand new search function that storeowners can implement to enhance the user experience. Learn more about our new native robust search functionality.

5 | Merchandising

Merchandising is best described as the process in which a business markets their products to consumers. In other words, online stores may not have brick and mortar showrooms where customers can easily see the products available to them, so they must display them using key online features to make products visible to customers. Merchandising strategies can only be successful when an online store has extensive product data and available inventory. Below are four types of merchandising strategies that your automotive eCommerce store can implement to increase sales.

  • Product Kits and Bundles. Sales can increase significantly when companies offer product kits or bundles. Grouped products offer a discount to the customer and increase profitability for the business. However, it’s important to also offer these items separately. A recent Forbes article explains that a new study proved that bundles are only successful when products can be purchased separately.  For example, all fast food restaurants offer their food and drink products as a combo meal or a la carte, but it’s cheaper for customers to purchase a meal rather than buying the items individually.
  • Related Products. Miva’s eCommerce software gives users the ability to assign related products to specific products. This is a great way to create visibility to products that would otherwise go unnoticed. For example, if you sell automotive apparel, you might show other t-shirts available from the same brand that a customer is viewing products from. You can add related products by following the steps in the Miva Reference Guide.
  • Recommended Products. These products are shown to customers based on user behavior from other customers. Recommended products are determined by the items that have been viewed, added to a cart, or purchased with the product the customer is currently viewing. Amazon has been extremely successful in displaying suggested products to customers. If you have shopped on Amazon, you have probably noticed their ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ section. You may have also seen sections like ‘Customers also viewed.’ PFYC automotive
  • Upsell. Companies have been incorporating upselling techniques into their sales strategy for decades. Upselling can be a great tactic for increasing the value and profitability of an original sale. Miva’s native upsell feature prompts customers to purchase additional products during the checkout process. Review Miva’s Reference Guide for implementing the upsell feature into your online store.

bto sports

6 | Promotions

Online businesses can implement coupon offerings into their marketing efforts to encourage consumers to purchase from them instead of their competition. Your automotive business might consider offering some of the three coupons outlined below. Remember to execute promotions strategically to reduce the risk of devaluing your brand. Discover additional benefits coupons and promotions can bring to your online store.

  • Free Shipping is quickly becoming a standard practice for eCommerce stores. In fact, some customers will abandon carts if the shipping cost is perceivably too high. Select a reasonably attainable threshold that an order must total for the customer to receive free shipping. Merchants can set up this easily by following this tutorial video1801-Best-Practices-for-Automotive-Ecommerce-Site-6
  • BOGO Deal. Also known as a “buy one, get one” promotion, BOGO deals give customers a special discount or free product for purchasing a particular product. For example, a merchant can run a special promotion where customers can purchase one long sleeve biker tee and receive 50% off a second long sleeve biker tee. Follow these steps to set up this feature in your online store.
  • Brand or Category Sale. A merchant can create a mutually-beneficial situation for both the store and customer by putting a specific brand or category on sale for a limited time. Customers can save money and merchants can move inventory to create space for new items. This type of promotion can also be used to generate revenue by creating demand during a slow season and give your store the chance to capitalize on impulsive shoppers. Watch this video to find out how to apply discounts to a specific product category.

7 | Marketing Content

Automotive eCommerce stores should incorporate videos and other media into their website to maximize marketing efforts and engagement. Videos are shareable content that offer benefits to both merchants and customers. Educational content like tutorial videos, can include step-by-step instructions for installing parts, while other videos can be used to showcase product features and specifications. Additionally, a business can create an interactive experience by adding videos that show vehicles or machines in action, like drag racing or a dynometer. Videos can also be used to create brand awareness and to improve search ranking from users sharing content on social media and blogs.

Tip: Consider adding an Instagram feed that features product photos and videos from customers. You can add a feed that only shows images associated with a designated hashtag. You might also consider adding regular blog posts to highlight customer photos to add value to your brand and to increase engagement.

8 | Customer Accounts

Customer accounts can greatly improve the online shopping experience. Customers can save time by utilizing their accounts to create online profiles to store billing information, wish lists, order history, product information, and more.

Tip: Consider implementing a ‘my garage’ or something of the like that customers can use to store vehicle information. Miva’s expert development team can add this custom functionality to only show relevant product information when a user is logged into their account, and browsing your product catalog. You might also consider adding a quick order form to enable users to quickly reorder parts. This form can be displayed within the order history section of the customer account.

Incorporating these key eCommerce elements into your online automotive store could take your online business to the next level and exponentially increase revenue for years to come. Get started today. Miva’s in-house Professional Services team of designers and developers can give you the helping hand you need to grow your automotive business.

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About The Author

Katy Ellquist

Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of eCommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential eCommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.

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