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How to Create an Online Car Parts Store with Auto Parts Inventory Software

August 19, 2021
How to Create an Online Car Parts Store with Auto Parts Inventory Software

I. Introduction

a. Why shouldn’t you use a generic inventory management solution for auto parts?

II. Car Parts in Demand Online

a. Exterior parts

b. Wheels and suspension parts

c. System parts

d. Comfort and decoration-related accessories

III. Elements of a Functional Online Car Parts Store

a. Vehicle Database

b. Auto Parts Inventory Software

c. Order Processing software

d. Shipping and Payment Gateways

f. Integrated Email Marketing Software

IV. How to set up an auto parts ecommerce store

a. Choose an ecommerce platform

b. Install an Auto Parts Inventory Software

c. Add the desired features

d. Promote your website

V. The PartsPal advantage for online stores

VI.Conclusion

Introduction

Online selling or ecommerce has become the new normal for most industries, and the auto parts industry is no different. Customers are increasingly relying on online for reviews, information as well as purchasing decisions, driving ecommerce sales substantially. It is expected that the industry will see healthy growth in the upcoming years.

That said, creating a website dedicated to the purpose of selling car parts is not an easy job. Managing thousands of car parts on a website is a challenging feat because of the large amount of data involved. This is what makes auto parts different and more challenging than other e-commerce categories. 

Fortunately, there are several car parts software and tools that make  auto parts ecommerce easier. Auto parts inventory software is the reliable tool needed to simplify car parts inventory management. 

Why shouldn’t you use a generic inventory management solution for auto parts?

It all comes down to the specific data which relates to auto parts. When marketing to consumers online via ecommerce, no one will buy a part unless they are confident that it will fit their vehicle. In order to provide confidence to the buyer, it is essential to integrate vehicle fitment data into the ecommerce platform.

Vehicle fitment data is centered around the manufacturer part number of each part. Generic inventory management systems do not have specific input fields for tracking the manufacturer part number. Some businesses get around this by adding part numbers into information fields intended for a SKU. But this is a hacky solution and causes issues down the track where part numbers may not be unique whereas SKUs need to be a stock keeping unit which is unique to the business and product.

The biggest disadvantage of a generic inventory management system for auto parts is that there is no way of managing vehicles and how the parts link or fit those vehicles. This is a huge problem if your business is selling to consumers who need to know whether the part will fit or not. 

Car Parts In-Demand Online

Before diving into the details of a functional online auto parts store, we’ve provided an overview of some focus areas that many businesses specialise in. If you’re keen to jump straight into the key ecommerce elements, then feel free to skip down below.

Exterior parts 

Grilles, bumpers, side mirrors, headlights, tail lights, fog lights, replacement bulbs 

Exterior parts are the outer parts of the vehicle that may not affect its general performance a big deal but they make the car look highly impressionable. These parts are generally easier to replace compared to the internal parts. Exterior parts are also quite customisable, allowing car owners to show off their style preference simply by replacing stock parts with customised parts. 

In the past, customers would have to visit a local garage and go through a catalogue in order to find appropriate exterior parts. Now, they don’t have to do that anymore due to the fact that they can simply order these parts online through ecommerce websites. 

However, the process might still be quite daunting if the car parts website does not have integrated automotive parts software with vehicle lookup functionality supported allowing them to easily search for the exterior parts that fit their car and also know right away if that part is available. 

This is particularly important for certain part types such as side mirrors and headlamps which are notoriously difficult to match with a vehicle without knowing the part or lens number (which consumers don’t know most of the time). 

Thus, it is a good idea to integrate dedicated software into a car parts website to help customers streamline their buying experience. In addition to standard inventory software features, like  control of  stocks and making sure that every part is accounted for. 

Many kinds of car exterior parts are now available online, especially the ones that are easier to ship such as headlights, side mirrors and fog lights. Some of them are quite cumbersome, like the bumpers and grilles. 

Wheels and suspension parts

Tires, shocks and struts, leveling kits

This auto parts category is what a car needs to move smoothly.  Because wheels bear the friction force between the car and the road, they deteriorate over time. As such, they have to be replaced on a regular basis. 

Alloy and steel wheels have important considerations when buying these replacement parts. 

Auto parts inventory software won’t only help car parts sellers to keep track of their wheels and suspension parts inventory but also important fitment data. Wheel fitment is specific and generally requires two databases:
1. Data matching wheels to dimensions sizes and patterns

2. Data matching dimensions sizes and patterns with vehicles

Suspension parts, on the other hand, are the components that can help maximise the contact between the tires and the road, vastly improving car handling. The suspension systems also ensure that the driver and passengers are comfortable while driving by dampening and absorbing the shock. The suspension system of a car needs to be checked regularly to ensure that it functions properly at all times. 

The fitment data of these parts is much more complicated than most exterior parts as well. This is why suspension parts were previously quite hard to find online. But with the use of a functional automotive parts software, it became much easier for customers to buy suspension parts and with full ease of mind. 

The right software shows customers whether the suspension parts will fit their car or not, making sure that they will not make the wrong purchase and end up having to return the parts. All the necessary fitment data should  be stored in the software, allowing customers to easily gain access to such data with relative ease. 

System parts

Air conditioning compressors and control systems, air and fuel filters, batteries, fuel pumps, distributors, alternators, ignition parts, brake system parts, clutch kits

System parts are among the most important parts of the car. They control the functions of a car, and they allow the driver to handle  the car without difficulties. Some system parts also provide an additional level of comfort to the driver and passengers. 

Fuel filters and fuel pumps are the parts that control the flow of fuel inside the engine. A fuel filter’s main role is to prevent dirt and other contaminants from getting into the engine, which has a low tolerance for contaminants. If the debris does get into the engine, it will cause several issues, potentially reducing its performance as well as its longevity. 

The fuel pumps, on the other hand, send fuel from the gas tank through the fuel filter, and into the fuel rail. The fuel rail leads to different injectors, which then spray fuel into the engine cylinder combustion chambers. Both of these components are essential for the smooth operation of the engine, so they will have to be replaced whenever necessary. 

A car's distributor is a device used to transfer high-voltage electricity to the spark plugs, helping kick start the engine. The ignition spark plug itself is one of the most important parts of the ignition system as it provides that spark of energy that ignites the air and fuel mixture in the engine, providing enough force to push the piston downward, creating the initial force that will move the car forward.

Because spark plugs and car ignition distributors are important components of the ignition system, customers should always consider changing these parts whenever there are signs of misfiring. 

The braking system of the car is among the most important safety measures of a vehicle. It keeps the speed of a car in check and allows the driver to stop the car immediately when there is an obstacle ahead. Therefore, it is important to get replacement parts for a brake system that has begun to show faults. 

The most replaceable part of the braking system is the brake pads. Generally, these pads should be replaced every 30,000 to 40,000 miles or as soon as the brake begins to squeal. The general rule of thumb when replacing brake pads is to look for brake pads that will perform well regardless of weather, as well as brake pads that do not collect dust that clings to the wheel. Brake pads are among the most common parts sold online and getting fitment right for these parts is absolutely essential. 

Comfort and aesthetic parts and accessories

Seat covers, decals, replacement emblems

Comfort parts are the parts that do not generally affect the performance of a car, but they are important if you are looking to stay comfortable throughout a long trip. Online car parts sellers that are looking to provide an all-in-one experience to their customers should also consider adding these parts to their inventory to keep customers riding in comfort. 

The elements of a functional online car parts store

For car parts sellers looking to make an online presence, the most important thing is to ensure that the foundations of the online catalog are set up correctly. There are a number of tools to help with this as building the systems to manage a catalog internally is a significantly difficult task. Depending on the size of the catalog, it can take weeks to months of time to ensure that parts data is accurately mapped to the correct vehicle fitment details. Relying on manual labor to sort out this vast sea of data is very time-consuming, but the most arduous task is ensuring that vehicle database details are complete and accurate.

One of the best tools to keep in mind when creating a functional online car parts store is using auto parts catalog management software. Such software is designed to help car parts sellers  keep track of their catalog and process a large amount of data easily and automatically.  

A successful online car parts website is a system of interconnected elements. Each element plays an important role in the ecosystem, creating a functional system that helps customers buy car parts quicker. Below is an overview of these elements. 

Vehicle database 

A vehicle database is the foundation of any parts catalog with fitment data. Vehicle databases should be localised for each country or “car parc”. The best vehicle databases are extremely detailed and include information for each vehicle such as the manufactured date, model, submodel, engine size, engine code, gearbox code, body style, wheelbase and so on… 

It is the vehicle data which a parts catalog links to. Usually the parts catalog is reasonably simple and most businesses dealing in car parts will have access to much of the part data. The difficult part is linking each of these parts to the appropriate vehicle and vehicle attributes. 

The data needs to be specific to your market. Model names are often localized by vehicle manufacturers for different countries. Depending on the regulation and environment of the target market, the cars will often be fitted with different parts.

For any business intending to provide an online platform for selling auto parts with a vehicle lookup - the vehicle data is the most difficult and important part of the platform. Building this database internally is an extremely arduous task and takes companies years to complete and then maintain. It is important to work with the software or data that can provide a comprehensive and scalable solution to this problem. 

Auto parts inventory software

Thousands of SKUs are difficult to manage in standard e-commerce - because auto parts each have unique fitment data, this makes inventory management even more difficult. That is why website owners should consider installing dedicated auto parts inventory software. 

The main function of the auto parts inventory software is to help car parts sellers manage their online catalog easily. This means editing auto parts specific data like vehicle compatibility, part fitment notes, equivalent part numbers and fitment positions like left or right hand.

As a business moves into ecommerce, it is common to connect the online inventory and cataloging systems with the business ERP. This can help to automate syncing stock and sales data with the existing business operation processes.

The best auto parts inventory management systems will allow you to easily manage a parts catalog with complete, accurate and local vehicle data. Managing sales orders, purchasing and pricing are all bonus features.

Order processing software 

Order processing is a great feature to have integrated into your ecommerce inventory management software.. This feature allows customers to choose how their chosen parts or products arrive at their location. Integrating an order processing software into the system will make sure that the customers get the part that they need when they need it.

Shipping and payment gateway

The final important element of an online car parts store that every seller should keep in mind is the shipping and payment gateway. It is important for customers to find the most convenient way for them to pay and receive their products. 

This allows customers to fill in their shipping address, phone number, contact information, etc. For returning customers, the system will save their data, and they might not need to refill the information the second time. 

The payment gateway will process the payments the customers make. Online shopping is made easy thanks to the advent of online payment methods such as PayPal or Apple Pay. The customers should be provided with a secured payment gateway for them to make payments without the risk of leaking security or personal information. With the right payment gateway, payments made through your website will be fast and secured, putting customers’ minds at ease.

Integrated email marketing software 

Email marketing software is not a must for your car parts website, but it is a highly welcomed addition. With this software, it is much easier to up-sell and promote your websites to new customers. Whenever a customer shows interest in one of your products, or when they have added a product to their carts without finalizing the purchase, the system will send a reminder email to encourage the customers to complete the purchase.

The interesting thing is that integrated email marketing software could use fitment data generated by other parts of the website for marketing purposes. For example, when a customer has bought an item from the store, the system could use fitment data to guess which parts will fit the customers’ vehicle. It can then recommend that product to the customers, increasing the likelihood that customers will buy it.


How to set up an auto parts ecommerce store

With all these tools at hand, it becomes easier for brick and mortar car parts sellers to transition online and set up their own auto parts ecommerce store. The steps listed below can be used as a basic guide. Here’s what you need to do to create a highly functional auto parts ecommerce store: 

Choose the appropriate ecommerce platform 

The first thing to choose is the right ecommerce platform. There are two choices here. You can either go with an established ecommerce marketplace such as eBay or Amazon, or you can try to create your own ecommerce platform. The latter will offer much more freedom but will require more work. 

Established platforms such as eBay and Amazon host thousands of online car parts stores. These platforms also provide a wide variety of extra tools that help car parts sellers manage their stores better. However for Amazon, it is a requirement to provide a warranty for each product you sell.

If you prefer creating your own ecommerce platform, it is now possible to start with established low-code platforms. You can use such a platform as the base, and then just add your own features to customize the storefront. Some notable platforms specifically made from ecommerce are Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. Each has its own advantage, so be sure to do some research before committing to any of these platforms. 

Install an auto parts inventory software 

Naturally, you will want to keep track of your inventory to easily restock products when needed. Using the age-old method of manual tracking can be very time-consuming, and it is certainly not very realistic if your inventory is spread over several warehouses. 

The best choice would be to use a modern auto parts inventory software. This software is specifically designed to help you manage inventories and your catalog more efficiently through modern tracking and organisation features. 

PartsPal is one of the best choices out there for automotive parts software and catalog management. With streamlined processes and a user-friendly interface, the software allows your customers to search for the parts they need with ease through your connected sales channels. 

The software includes a parts fitment checker to ensure that your customers will not make the wrong purchase. Furthermore, you can even add a table of product information and fitment data to help your customers make the right purchase decision. 

Auto parts inventory software will streamline the purchase process for your customers, making it easier for them to purchase parts from your website. On your end, the software will help you manage auto parts in your stock, especially if you manage multiple warehouses. 

Add the desired features

When the basic infrastructure has been taken care of, it is time to add the features to your website. Try not to put too many features into your website as that might result in an overload on the user interface. It is always a good idea to start with the most important ones and just expand the line-up later. 

The first features to be considered should be ensuring and easy interface for browsing the product categories. Dividing your products into appropriate categories will let customers find the parts they need more easily. It will also make it easier for the team to manage individual parts. 

When the categories are taken care of, the next step should be to ensure that there are  comprehensive product descriptions for each product. The description should not be a difficult technical text that only experts can understand. They should be clear and concise so that the customers will know it fits their vehicle. 

A parts search feature should be a norm as this feature will help customers to search for the parts they need with ease. It should be able to search parts by both their number and name, as well as vehicle type.   

Promote your website

When the website is ready, it is time to promote it and bring it to the general public. The first option is available almost for free: promotions through social media sites. Start by engaging with customers on social media sites as well as posting new deals when available. Do keep in mind, however, that you might have to pay social media sites if you want to reach out to a lot of new customers.

The second option is to use the services of professional advertising agencies. They will boost your presence on Google as well as other untapped networking platforms, creating a good amount of traffic to flow to your website, which can possibly be converted into sales.

Creating a functional online car parts store is a big task but with the right foundation , it will be much easier to manage the store. With the right tools and software, these steps will become even more manageable and efficient. 


The PartsPal advantage for online stores

For a car parts seller who is looking to launch their auto parts online store, an auto parts inventory software is a valuable ally. It comes with a wide variety of features and tools that will help streamline several managerial steps of the process, ensuring that you have the time and resources to dedicate to other matters. 

PartsPal is one of the most innovative auto parts inventory software out there. It is the only software that allows you to access millions of catalog part data and vehicle data from within the system as well as allow you to edit and add your own data. 

PartsPal connects your online car parts store to a structured and well-managed auto parts database with ease. You don’t even have to write code to gain access to this giant resource, as PartsPal handles that step for you. Here is how PartsPal will elevate your online store and drive valuable customers to your website. 

It syncs your catalog data with the best ecommerce platforms 

PartsPal firstly allows you to manage an accurate and complete online catalog of parts and then sync this onto major ecommerce platforms such as eBay and Shopify. 

The unique feature here is syncing parts fitment data. In Shopify’s case, the data is synced complete with integrated vehicle selector systems which allow customers to easily filter for the part they need based on their vehicle.

In the case of eBay, PartsPal allows you to sync the fitment data loaded into your catalog directly and seamlessly into the eBay fitment standard. 

It integrates accurate fitment data 

One of the most time-consuming steps of running an online car parts store is adding fitment data. Fitment data is vast, and handling this huge amount of data can take a lot of time and effort. 

Furthermore, there is always the chance of making human errors when you manually add fitment data to your website. This will not only slow down your progress, but it could also mean that customers are likely to make the wrong purchase, which results in a return. 

PartsPal will connect your website with an accurate fitment database. It will then automatically search for any relevant catalog part and update the fitment data, saving you a lot of time and resources. The best part is that it does not even take a single line of code to connect your website with these databases, as PartsPal has that taken care of through API integration

Currently, there is no software out there that allows car parts sellers to manage your stocks and gain access to vast fitment data simultaneously. This is a huge limitation, as car parts sellers have to search high and low for software that can handle these two processes.  

Furthermore, integrating two software into one system can be quite complicated. There will be risks related to performance issues, and it will not be easy for the team to manage every aspect of the system. 

PartsPal integrates these two steps into one package, allowing car parts sellers to efficiently manage their car parts store. With PartsPal, webmasters can effectively manage the inventory with ease, even if the stock is spread over many different locations.

The tool will also update fitment data automatically, allowing car parts sellers to gain the benefits of two tools in one. This will greatly streamline inventory management and it will also make the website run smoother. 

It allows easier management of your car parts inventory

PartsPal’s auto parts inventory management feature comes with a feed file manager that can import a large part list, update and manage stock and perform cross reference checks. PartsPal can import from multiple suppliers and accepts multiple industry standards.

It also allows car parts sellers to update stock levels in bulk. All records are kept for easy management. With PartsPal, it’s easier to manage your aftermarket part OEM equivalents through the feed file manager.

It is specifically designed for online car parts stores

It is true that inventory management software has been around for quite some time. However, there has been a lack of inventory management softwares dedicated to car parts stores. In the era of fast connections, this will put many ecommerce website owners in a tough spot, especially as many are running multiple warehouses at multiple locations.

PartsPal is one of the few inventory management softwares tailored to the needs of online car parts store owners. The software allows car parts sellers to make bulk changes easily, making it easier to manage thousands of car parts. 

For example, it will automatically match your categories with the GAPC standards, helping you manage car part categories more efficiently. If the categories cannot be recognised by the system, they can be manually sorted with ease. The system also comes with an intuitive product mapper, which helps car parts sellers to add product details such as prices, brands, and images more easily.

PartsPal also allows businesses to manage multiple sales channels at the same time. For online businesses, this is very important, as online businesses are more flexible than offline businesses. The store could be selling on other channels as well, and PartsPal is the tool for you, as it allows you to manage multiple sales channels from one spot. 

PartsPal also makes it easier for car parts businesses to sell products directly to customers. PartsPal’s smart fitment data handling ensures that your customers will be able to see which parts will fit their vehicles, making sure that they won’t make the wrong purchase only to return it later on. This feature will make PartsPal considerably more user-friendly, which is great even for the non-tech savvy car parts seller.

It can help boost online sales

The great thing about PartsPal is that it orients your online business towards an increase in sales. It not only makes it easier to sell parts directly to customers, but it will also help them to navigate the website more easily. 

PartsPal will take in the relevant data such as products information and inventory information from the car parts website, process them, and turn the data sets into a version that is more friendly for customers. 

For example, PartsPal allows you to create a compatibility table that shows the relevant information such as product information, dimension, weight, and fitment data. This table will allow customers to make accurate purchases.

The fact that the software allows you to quickly integrate world-class fitment databases into your website without having to add extra code lines is another big boost. This feature means that you do not have to dedicate a lot of resources to this aspect of the website, allowing you to stay focused on other important projects. 

Conclusion 

If you intend to build an online car parts store, all the things you need have been listed above. You will need the right online infrastructure to help you organise everything. Managing way too many parts at the same time risks complicating marketing and managerial operations. The Partly suite of software for car parts sellers greatly helps with that. 

Fortunately, car parts sellers do not have to build their websites alone. By integrating Partly’s e-commerce software for auto-parts into your website, they won’t only keep track of their stocks with ease but also update fitment data and other important vehicle information automatically. This step will greatly improve the sales of the car parts website. Furthermore, these software will also considerably boost traffic, order processing and sales. 

As the world is changing rapidly and customers turn rapidly towards online platforms, car parts businesses are not going to be left defenseless amidst these waves of change. With the help of an auto parts inventory software, the management of a car parts store becomes more streamlined, and car parts sellers can easily get on top of inventory, marketing and sales to provide their customers with an overall satisfactory experience interacting with your car parts website. 

For car parts sellers looking to dominate the uncharted territory of ecommerce, an auto parts inventory software is a must, as the sheer amount of data that has to be processed will be a huge challenge to any team. 

Fortunately, PartsPal is around to help with this, sort everything out and put things into order. PartsPal’s auto parts inventory feature is designed for car parts ecommerce businesses, particularly those that have to manage multiple sales channels at the same time. With the software’s smart design and its ease of use, PartsPal simplifies car parts ecommerce.