As with all major industries over the last decade or so, the auto parts retail sector has undergone its own form of digital revolution.
With the proliferation of online retailers across the web, and the search for ‘auto parts store’ surging at a rate of 197% over the last decade, the rise in competition between retailers has been fast and fierce.
With each potential website visitor representing a potential sale, it’s imperative that your auto parts website is geared toward making it quick and easy for customers to firstly find the product they’re looking for, and successfully make it through the check out.
That’s what CRO (conversion rate optimisation) is all about.
It’s an area of obsession for many online retailers, and when well-executed, affords a competitive edge when it comes to converting those curious website visitors into paying customers.
Today we’ll cover off the basics, as well as give you a few helpful strategies to get ahead with optimising your online auto parts store for conversion.
Let’s kick off with the basics.
What is conversion rate optimisation?
In a nutshell, Conversion Rate Optimisation (or CRO) is a relatively broad subject which covers various methods of improving and enhancing website performance – increasing the percentage of website visitors that wind up making a purchase.
For an auto parts website, conversion rate optimisation involves ramping up the overall volume of customers who visit your website and follow through with a desired action – usually making a purchase.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on optimising purchase conversions, but it’s worth knowing that, outside of automotive parts e-commerce, conversion goals can also be non-financial; like booking a sales demo, signing up for a newsletter or registering to receive a .pdf resource.
Back to our focus – optimising towards website conversion. The overarching idea here is to create an optimal web experience that nurtures users through the purchase decision.
This set of considerations also includes website design elements, to ensure the consumer’s online journey to purchase is as quick and easy as possible.
Why improve conversion rates?
CRO is important because it helps to increase the return on every dollar you invest into your website and online store. It’s the final step in the online sales journey, and by ensuring the process is smart, seamless and efficient in those early stages where a customer interacts with your website and products, you’ll see greater results down the line.
Let’s look a little more deeply at the key reasons CRO is such a worthy endeavour for auto part retailers.
The return on paid clicks to your website increases
CRO is one of the most cost-effective growth strategies you can undertake, and for that reason is a favourite amongst online retailers. Tech startup publisher Venturebeat conducted research which shows the ROI of CRO strategies can be as high as 223%.
The average website conversion rate (that is, the rate at which it sells products) usually sits around 1-2%. The key here, however, is capitalising on the traffic – some of which you’re likely to be paying for through PPC ads and so forth.
If you’re paying $20 for a paid per click ad, and you get 100 customers through to your website with a conversion rate of 2%, then you’re only going to make 2 sales at a cost of $2000.
Depending on the cost of the auto parts you sell, that may not be a profitable venture for you.
However, if you successfully increase your online conversion rate to, for example, 5%, the cost of the traffic remains the same (i.e. you’re still spending $2000), but the resulting number of sales would be 2.5x higher – signalling an obvious increase in your return on investment.
Importantly – this rule and the associated benefits of conversion rate optimisation relate to all of your digital marketing efforts, from social media marketing to email newsletters and organic website content.
That’s why it’s such a helpful tool to achieve greater scale.
5 ways to improve conversion rates for auto parts retailers
1. Make it easy for buyers to find parts that fit their vehicles
By far, the best tactic to improve conversion rates for auto parts e-commerce sites is enabling your buyers to find parts that fulfil their intended jobs. Some sites utilise generic Year Make Model search plugins, coupled with manual vehicle/tagging systems. This can work at a small scale but is extremely time-consuming at a larger scale.
If your site is hosted on Shopify, Partly offers the best suite of tools that enables a best-in-class buyer experience. The vehicle search is laser-fast and intuitive, with an option to search using a registration plate (only available in selective countries).
After inputting a vehicle, a user is taken to a collection page which shows only products that fit their vehicle. When clicking on a product, a ‘This fits your vehicle’ confirmation appears to verify that a product fits the buyer’s vehicle.
This experience is facilitated through a native integration between PartsPal and Shopify; while parts and vehicle fitment data is managed in PartsPal.
Adding vehicle search and fitment checker to automotive e-commerce sites has been shown to increase conversion rate by up to 40%, making it a worthwhile long-term investment to auto parts businesses of any size. If you want to learn more, check out our Commerce Platform suite.
2. Ensure your website layout is simple and clear
To successfully optimise your website for conversion, you need to know who your customers are, and how your website is driving behaviours.
Ensure you understand your customers – what they’re looking for, the main devices they’re viewing your website on, or which pages on your website see the highest exit rates. These are all valuable insights that you and your team will need to create an optimal sales flow.
Make it easy for your website visitors to find the product/s they need what they need. Ensure you have clear and simple hero images on the homepage, accompanied with a simple statement about what customers can find in your online store.
Finally, make sure there’s a strong, clear call to action (usually a button) that guides the user to view the product and proceed to check out.
Ensure your product pages are accurate and descriptive
- Product images – high quality and ideally at a size where users don’t need to zoom in to see specific details.
- Use a social proof element – this could be something like a review widget to build anticipation around the product and confidence in your brand as a whole.
- Write in-depth product descriptions – so your customers don’t need to conduct any additional off-site research into the parts they’re looking for. Build as much confidence as you can!
- Include vehicle fitment information in product description - comprehensive fitment data can improve crawl-ability for product-page and boost overall site SEO. Partly’s platform integrations allows you to add fitment data to all products published from PartsPal.
3. Provide your customers with an enticing offer
Adding a discount offer can be a great way to incentivise shoppers to complete their transaction.
There are a number of ways you can do this, and you’re likely to be familiar with e-commerce website popups offering discounts to incentivise purchase.
Interestingly, in the case of auto parts retailers, research shows that the majority of auto parts customers are using coupons. That’s right – mailer coupons, or likely sourced from marketing emails.
Responsibility for the creation and promotion of these would most likely rest with the marketing and sales departments, rather than being seen strictly as a conversion rate optimisation strategy – but they work in tandem.
You may well benefit from experimenting with an offer added to the website too. In which case, you’ll want a website expert or developer on board for the exercise. Watch out though, make sure the pop up experience doesn’t cheapen your brand perception – they can be seen as annoying and ultimately detract from your site experience.
Be careful, and be sure to test and report on the effectiveness of the offer by capturing data of the conversion rate before the online offer was introduced.
When considering CRO, place your discount offer in the digital hands of shoppers before and as they shop. Surprise and delight them before they reconsider their purchase and abandon their carts, leaving you no better off.
4. An added note on popup effectiveness
In all honesty, the jury is out when it comes to pop ups. For some businesses, they work. For others, they drive website visitors away from the site almost as quickly as they arrived.
From a data perspective, research shows that exit-intent pop ups are incredibly effective for online stores – lifting e-commerce conversion rates by up to 9%, so they’re definitely worth considering.
It’s best to test and learn in this space. An online tool like Unbounce is a great way to experiment with different types of pop-ups, if that’s something you want to do.
How vehicle fitment data can improve conversion rate for parts e-commerce
5. Make your checkout process fast and easy
Optimisation of your store’s checkout flow is essential to any CRO work.
Ensure that your website checkout captures only the absolute essential information necessary to complete purchase – make it as easy and painless as possible! Question every piece of information you add into the purchase form – do you really need their middle name, for example.
Marketing software developer Unbounce reports that reducing the form size from 11 to 4 fields can improve your conversion rate by up to 120%. Small change – big results.
Conversion rate optimisation is an essential strategy to consider for any e-commerce business, but in light of the high rates of competition for consumer attention in the auto parts industry, it’s essential for online auto parts retailers to make consistent strides towards creating optimal website experiences.
As human beings, we’re geared to brands and businesses that make life easier and more convenient. That concept trickles down into the way consumers interact with websites, and that’s what conversion rate optimisation is all about. Making it easy for customers to find and purchase what they need, while making it easy for you to improve your business performance without contributing a significant cost margin.
By looking at your website performance and identifying elements which could work as barriers to purchase, while providing smart incentives to nurture consumers through the checkout process, you’ll be on the fast track to improving your website’s overall performance.