Tackling Digital Transformation in the Automotive Aftermarket

2017 presented the Aftermarket with an unprecedented challenge: the ultra-informed customer. The ultra-informed customer also happens to shop at Amazon and doesn’t understand why their small, local grocery store doesn’t have the capability to drone-deliver their clicklist.

Pressure on all sides

Customers are tired of the technology stalemate that’s been going on, and companies need to understand, they can’t stop developing and building on our knowledge base until the customers of the Aftermarket have the technology they need, and deserve. This is a phenomenon that began in nonessential retail and has trickled down to affect the verticals that provide staples we all rely on.

Unique pressure on the Automotive Aftermarket

Automotive and grocery were the last verticals to feel the push, but they’re definitely feeling it now. Amazon bought Whole Foods and grocery became the leader of convenience-centric experience. Now Amazon is moving into the automotive Aftermarket and those parts vendors are beginning to feel the pressure.

As we learned last year at AASA Tech 2017, telematics and dongles aren’t the only stars of the Aftermarket show, and ACES/PIES alone won’t cut it anymore for data. Smaller jobbers and distributors need to be prepared to compete with tech-enabled companies, and competing with rising rates of direct-to-consumer selling. The Aftermarket hasn’t had to contend with competitors like these before, so they will need a new set of tools to stay in the game. Amazon is a snake in the grass, waiting silently to strike on the automotive Aftermarket. How can parts retailers and manufacturers compete in the digital age of convenience?

What can the Aftermarket do?

Invest in your customers by investing in product content strategy.

Invest in the experience for your customers through offering a seamless product content ecosystem by making your brick and mortar and digital strategies work together.

When dealing with product content, convenience and accuracy of product details are very important. Investing in your digital strategy means investing in product content accuracy, validation and syndication. As an example, take Edgenet, a product content management tool. Edgenet is a platform that helps content teams seamlessly manage and syndicate product data. Through the platform, changes to your company’s data can happen in real time, all in a single portal.

The current and upcoming generations of content managers need the ability to be more agile and open to new and exciting ways to transform their content and content delivery services. Customers shouldn’t have to wait weeks to see the latest version of data; that means weeks of missed customer influence.

Invest in technology that helps your people be successful.

The other side of the experience coin is the technology that keeps processes running smoothly, for sales associates and customers, alike. Once your product content has been validated and optimized for web syndication, that information needs to be available everywhere. And this isn’t news…in fact, Forrester research states that 90% of companies are aware they need a syndication platform in their strategy.

Once your data has been validated for accuracy and completeness, it can be sent through technology like PartsTech. PartsTech is where the rubber meets the road for complete product content and the customer. By giving shoppers the ability to view the parts they need and telling them where they can find them locally, PartsTech connects customers with realtime local inventory in a way that has never been possible in the Aftermarket. Companies like PartsTech and Edgenet are redefining how eCommerce and brick and mortar can be combined for ultimate Aftermarket success.

Optimize your speed to market and connectivity.

We’re starting to see the industry take notice of connectivity. Having a product that talks to other independent systems so that they all integrate into a seamless platform is what the industry has been working towards. The more integrated and seamless the experience, the faster our customers can move through it, which in turn lowers costs and provides the customer with an improved level of service.

Finding the starting line

So how can Aftermarket players start rolling these practices into their overall strategy? Invest in brands who stay focused on delivering valuable content in a rich, intuitive experience. Quality content and delivery of that content, combined with a shopping experience designed for speed and efficiency, can only serve to strengthen the relationship between brands and their customer base.

When data enhancements and corrections happen in a very short period of time, that means more accurate and timely data for the repair shop. Having a quality catalog reduces the time it takes to source a part, and it eliminates returns due to incorrect fitment. All of these factors affect a shop’s bottom line. Customers are tired of the technology stalemate that’s been going on. Companies need to understand, they can’t stop developing and building on our knowledge base until the customers of the Aftermarket have the technology they need, and deserve.

Madeline Harrell
Madeline, a millennial who enjoys Googling puppies in her spare time, is the Digital Content Coordinator at Edgenet, the product content platform preferred by thousands of brands and retailers.

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