The online parts market is more competitive than ever, and pretty soon price won’t be enough to keep you ahead.
With so much choice, customers can afford to be picky. That’s why customer service and fulfillment speed will become increasingly important in the future of auto parts retailers.
So what can you do to keep your online parts store moving quickly?
In both quality and speed, customer service matters. It’s something you have full control over and an easy way to rise above the competition. Customers will always have something to ask you about, but you can reduce the amount of questions with a little preparation. Here’s how:
1. Create email templates for any commonly asked questions.
Whenever a customer emails your dealership with a frequently asked question, you don’t have to write a response from scratch. You can simply send out a template you’ve prepared in advance.
2. Write clear details in your parts descriptions.
Is the part for the left or right side? Does it come in a pair or not? By creating quality descriptions for the parts you sell, customers won’t have to email or call for clarification. Having high quality diagrams or photographs of car parts will also help to clear up any confusion.
3. Provide clear return and shipping policies.
Let customers know how your business operates with clear, easy-to-understand policies. It’s vital that these policy guidelines are easily accessible on your website, otherwise customers will get frustrated and call you with shipping and return questions.
And, Speaking of Shipping….
Customers are getting used to same day, next day, and two-day shipping—and for some, delayed shipping can be a deal breaker. This doesn’t mean you can’t keep up without rapid shipments, but it’s essential that you do what you can to smooth the process. To do so:
1. Process and ship your orders quickly.
If you wait a few days to fulfill online parts orders, you run the risk of receiving negative reviews and losing repeat business. To help you process orders more quickly, consider using a shipping manager that can automate label creation so you don’t have to manually copy and paste all of the order details back and forth between your order processing system and shipping carrier website.
2. Provide realistic shipping estimates.
Customers will get less antsy if they know when to expect their shipment. Include estimated shipping times along the shopping process, then provide a tracking number when the shipment goes through. Make sure this information is included in the customer’s confirmation email.
3. Assess your future strategy.
In the years to come, drop shipping will make it easier for dealerships to reach customers quickly and efficiently. As more auto groups set up centralized parts stores, dealers will get routed orders depending on stock availability and proximity to the shopper. If you are part of an auto group, now is the time to start planning your e-commerce strategy across all of your dealerships.
You can also think about your parts department’s efficiency on a more general scale. For example, are you properly staffed? As your business grows, you might start feeling the strain of a heavier workload. Make sure you staff appropriately, and that your staff is trained so you can handle higher order volumes.
A schedule or routine will drastically help your parts department run smoothly. Use checklists to help build a repeatable process that ensures your staff will fulfill orders quickly and efficiently.
With a little bit of work and organization, you’ll find it’s not too hard to pick up the pace at which you interact with customers and fulfill orders.
Guest author Amanda Oppenheim is the marketing manager at RevolutionParts, a Dealer.com Certified Technology Provider