Future of the Automotive Industry: 2020 Predictions by Automotive Industry Experts
We asked some of the automotive industry’s brightest minds about the future of the automotive industry, as well as what automotive aftermarket industry trends for eCommerce look like for 2020.
The predictions were surprising. They cover trends and predictions for video advertising for automotive parts, website design, artificial intelligence, third party marketplaces, BOPIS from automotive parts brick & mortar stores, website speed, and much more. See if there are any surprises for you:
Automotive aftermarket industry trends: video advertising
Erick Candelero Griscenco, Agency Development Manager, Google
Erick offers his take on how video will affect the future of the automotive industry. It’s one of the most important future automotive aftermarket industry trends for advertisers:
Video searches for 'which (product) should I buy' have doubled since last year: Erick Candelero Griscenco, @Google #DrivePartsSales Click To Tweet“Video will become even more relevant. The lines between search and video are becoming blurrier. More than half of consumers say online video has helped them decide which specific brand or product to buy. They seek several types of video to narrow down their list of options. Video searches for ‘which [product] should I buy’ have doubled since last year and we expect them to grow even further.
“Any savvy eCommerce auto parts marketer should be considering how to include video in their mix to drive successful campaigns in 2020.”
As another example of this automotive industry trend for 2020, Erick also suggested reading this article on how video can drive results across the entire marketing funnel.
Auto parts sales growth to continue double-digit growth on Amazon, eBay
Curt McDowell, Dir. Strategic Partners & Category Management, ChannelAdvisor
ChannelAdvisor manages millions of dollars in product data between eCommerce retailers and third party marketplaces including eBay Motors, Amazon, Walmart and others. Curt has had many roles in ChannelAdvisor including responsibility for the automotive parts segment.
ChannelAdvisor also produces an all-day event called AutoCommerce 2020, held this year at ChannelAdvisor’s headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina. If you’re in eCommerce selling auto parts you should consider attending this exclusive event January 23, 2020. Here’s Curt’s outlook for 2020:
I expect continued double digit growth for our #autoparts brands and retailers in eCommerce: Curt McDowell @ChannelAdvisor #DrivePartsSales Click To Tweet“Amazon showed strong double digit 3P growth for our brand and retailer customers in 2019. I expect this to strengthen in 2020. However, we may see the seller mix shift, as brands contemplate the best strategy between wholesaling to Amazon (first party), selling as a third party on the marketplace, or leveraging authorized resellers for marketplace sales.
“EBay overall is reporting stronger traction and my expectation is that eBay’s strong focus on consumers will start to pay greater dividends later in the year as consumers look to eBay to fill their needs. The wild card is Walmart. If Walmart can execute on a robust fitment process, it has the site traffic to gain more market share.
“Overall I expect continued double digit growth for our brands and retailers in eCommerce, and continued consolidation of brands and wholesale distributors in 2020.”
Wholesale auto parts sales at risk from collision avoidance technology; opportunities to gain from eCommerce
Ibrahim Mesbah, CEO, RevolutionParts
RevolutionParts is the leading eCommerce platform for franchised automobile dealers to sell OEM parts and accessories. They make it simple and economical to sell parts across multiple channels, both retail and wholesale. He covers two automotive industry trends for dealerships. First, enhancing profitability by growing eCommerce. Second, modernizing the wholesale customer buying experience. RevolutionParts is making both a reality. Here is Ibrahim’s outlook for 2020:
“Automobile dealerships across the country are starting to notice dents in their wholesale parts revenue. The era of collision avoidance technology is keeping cars on the road and out of the body shop. This threatens a traditionally stable revenue stream to the fixed ops department.
Collision avoidance technology is keeping cars out of the body shop, threatening a traditionally stable revenue stream to the #fixedops department, from Ibrahim Mesbah @revolutionparts #DrivePartsSales Click To Tweet“Three major revenue streams for OEMs and auto dealers — collision parts wholesale, collision repairs, and new car sales’ profit margins — are tightening. OEMs and dealerships should start focusing on the mechanical parts and eCommerce market growth.
“Mechanical part sales represent a $39 billion industry (mechanical parts only), of which OEMs own just over $3 billion. That’s a paltry 8.5%. The rest is being gobbled up by the aftermarket.
“There are three major plays that can help OEMs and dealerships get a larger market share. First, modernize and streamline the parts buying experience for major wholesale platform clients through technology adoption. Second, improve service levels by prioritizing customer satisfaction and delivery. And third, implement price matching and conquest programs, just like you would with collision, to close the price gap with the aftermarket on the mechanical side.”
Walmart, M&A and BOPIS are key automotive trends to watch in 2020
Scott Luckett, Vice President Industry Strategy, GCommerce, Inc.
Scott is clearly one of the gurus of eCommerce and auto parts data in the automotive industry. In fact, Scott spent 17 years at the Auto Care Association (formerly AAIA) where he was instrumental in developing the ACES and PIES data standards used in the industry today. Here are Scott’s predictions for automotive industry trends 2020:
(Walmart's) total marketplace sales for #autoparts and accessories including #Amazon and #eBay will overtake that of all other eCommerce retailers: Scott Luckett #DrivePartsSales Click To Tweet“Watch Walmart grow – Walmart’s customer demographic is a great fit for automotive DIY sales. But, without experienced automotive leadership and a complete parts fitment catalog they haven’t gotten traction in parts and accessories. That will change in 2020 with the recent hiring of a VP/GM Automotive, Tires & Powersports, and development of a completely new parts fitment catalog. Walmart’s share of marketplace sales will grow significantly. Their total marketplace sales for auto parts and accessories (including Amazon and eBay) will overtake that of all other eCommerce retailers.
“Watch for eCommerce M&A activity – In search of the scale and national footprint required to offer fast delivery across the country and compete effectively with Amazon, mergers and acquisitions will accelerate. Brick and mortar distributors may buy eCommerce businesses as a fast way to add this new sales pillar. And leading eCommerce players may entertain merging with a legacy brick and mortar retailer to offer Buy Online Pick-up in Store (BOPIS) service.”
Aftermarket trends include video and easy to use websites
Chris Fellows, Director of Internet Solutions, Direct Communications, Inc. (DCi)
Chris has been in the aftermarket industry for several decades. As DCi’s Director of Internet Solutions, he has a unique position to see how automotive eCommerce sales grow. He also sees how product data influences sales, and other automotive aftermarket industry trends. Here’s his outlook for the future of the automotive industry:
I think people should invest more time in function for a website, rather than look: Chris Fellows, @DCi_eServices #DrivePartsSales Click To Tweet“A good looking website is usually one of the first criteria someone is looking for. But if it doesn’t function, it doesn’t matter. I use Rock Auto as an example. It’s stupid-simple, and to the eye, one of the most boring sites out there. But does it work?! I think people should invest more time in function, rather than look. I’ve had my wife, who knows very little about automotive, try to find parts on websites I’ve worked on. If she has a hard time, she’s been my gauge to make it easier. You shouldn’t need to be an expert to find parts on your website.
“I think the next big thing to come is more video content. With cell phones changing the way of business, faster speeds and new software made buffering seem like a thing of the past. More people watch videos, rather than read text. Installation, features, sound; whatever you can do to better capture the audience to describe the product, the more engaged the customer will be.
“I don’t think it will wipe out year/make/model or decent description data, as I think you’ll always need that. But in my opinion, this will be the next push for manufacturers to offer this data. This is in addition to the other standard data that are being asked for.”
Future aftermarket industry trends include use of APIs, artificial intelligence
Tracie Nunez, President, Custom Automotive Network (formerly PWA)
Trace runs CAN, the trade association that represents aftermarket distributors and manufacturers. She has decades of experience in the industry. She has been a manufacturer and now is the head of one of our industry’s most important associations. Here’s her take on the future of the automotive aftermarket industry:
Real-time inventory, API integrations and customizable exports for pricing and data are becoming standard in the #aftermarket: Tracie Nunez @customautontwk #DrivePartsSales Click To Tweet“For 49 years, the Custom Automotive Network association has been focused on automotive aftermarket supply channel issues. In 2020, we see many members, distributors and manufacturers, implementing and integrating more business-to-business (B2B) solutions.
“Specifically, real-time inventory, API integrations and customizable exports for pricing and data are becoming standard expectations when dealing with a business partner. The use of artificial intelligence solutions to automate and standardize daily business activity will see an even larger adoption rate as well, across all our members.”
Site search and speed: two predictions for automotive eCommerce
Dana Nevins, President, Web Shop Manager
Dana’s company, Web Shop Manager, has been one of the leading auto parts eCommerce platforms for the aftermarket since the 1990s. Dana’s a “car guy,” too, so he understands eCommerce and automotive industry trends from the perspective as a customer.
“Page Speed – ECommerce as a whole will take a shift, if Google begins to enforce its page speed ‘badges’ that determine if a site is slow or not. If they do enforce this, then we have a high likelihood of websites going full swing into high-performance optimization above all else.
Very minimalistic websites are on the way in: Dana Nevins @webshopmanager #DrivePartsSales Click To Tweet“But all businesses that sell in the eCommerce market will need to know what that really means. Less fancy sites, fewer images, less text, etc. Just a ‘to the point’ kind of shopping experience. Very much like all other major eCommerce. My first prediction then, will be that image-heavy sites are on the way out, and very minimalistic sales sites are on the way in. Google will make it very scary to lose that number one spot, so overkill to their rating system will be what people aim for.
“Site Search – More and more people are turning to the search box within a site to do the work for them when it comes to finding the right product on a site. They’re looking for highly relevant results returned in an instant. Effectively, the right search can eliminate steps and uncertainty in the shopping experience, and everyone has heard the adage ‘Fewer Clicks, Higher Conversions’.
“Predictive search is no longer just matching results based on the characters you are typing, consumers expect the search to recommend items based on context and behavior. My second prediction is that your native platform site search will no longer adequate for the fickle consumer. Larger sites are going with dedicated search platforms that specialize in taking site search to the next level and our clients have seen notable improvements in their conversion rates from these enhanced systems. Additionally, we already know that low bounce rates can improve Google rankings so adding an upgraded site search tool can drive sales and Google rankings in 2020.”
Future of the automotive industry wrap up
There you have it! Some of the brightest minds in the automotive aftermarket eCommerce space giving their views of the future. What do you think of these predictions and forecasts for 2020? Share your opinions below, or on social media using the hashtag #DrivePartsSales.
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It looks to me like there is going to be a lot of opportunity for creative marketing in the automotive industry in the future. For example, yes, revenue loss has to be recouped in some way from the drop in wholesale parts sales, but the drop is also linked to increased safety and lower lifetime costs for the consumer, and that is a great story to tell consumers, even if it has to be told in a way to couch other changes the automaker is making.