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A Glance at Expanding E-commerce Automotive Aftermarket Amid Rapid Technological Evolution in Vehicle Manufacturing

automotive aftermarket

A Glance at Expanding E-commerce Automotive Aftermarket Amid Rapid Technological Evolution in Vehicle Manufacturing

Technology has triggered a fundamental change across nearly every major retail domain, except for one; automotive. While digital communication, B2B sales, and retail have witnessed changing trends due to technological transformation, the automotive sector has been relatively slow on the uptake in this regard. It had remained considerably consistent for over a century since the establishment of the first car dealership in 1898 in Cleveland, however, electronic commerce is set to change the way automotive retailing works. With consumer shopping trends continuing their steady shift towards the digital domain, e-commerce automotive aftermarket is all ready to rule the roost.

One of the biggest impacts of technology on the automotive domain has been observed in the automotive aftermarket industry. Automotive aftermarket refers to the after-sale market of the automotive sector. In essence, any automotive parts or components such as vehicle equipment, collision repair, service repair, replacement tires and other accessories sold after the sale of the original vehicle, are considered to be a part of the “aftermarket”. The automotive aftermarket encompasses companies involved in the production, remanufacturing, retail, distribution, and installation of replacement car parts, service repair, equipment, and accessories.

In the modern era, the emergence of e-commerce automotive aftermarket entities, such as eBay Motors and Amazon Marketplace have redefined the automotive sale experience for customers across the globe. From a customer’s perspective, such platforms deliver the ideal solution for customers in search of non-mission-critical and other discretionary parts, where they can browse through similar products, check reviews and avail quick delivery at economical price points. This ease and convenience are among the major factors responsible for elevating digital platforms like Amazon to great heights in the e-commerce automotive aftermarket domain in recent years.

For conventional automotive retailers and OEMs, on the other hand, the rise of these digital solutions has considerably disrupted industry trends. However, this does not necessarily spell trouble for these traditional automotive entities. On the contrary, leveraged correctly, e-commerce for automotive aftermarket can actually present a vast array of lucrative avenues for these retailers to establish a strong long-term presence in the aftermarket auto parts landscape.

How is e-commerce transforming the automotive domain?

Traditional sales models for the automotive industry have been predominantly dealer-based. From gaining information, to test drives, to transactions to servicing, nearly all activities associated with automotive sales and after-sales were carried out at the physical brick-and-mortar automotive dealerships.

However, these days, many customers are turning their focus towards e-commerce automotive aftermarket for their retail experiences, given the convenience, speed, and autonomy provided by these platforms. In fact, a 2019 study conducted among 1,089 vehicle shoppers suggested that nearly 49% of consumers are open to purchasing their new vehicle completely online.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that e-commerce seems to be really coming into its own and eliciting a massive transformation across the automotive sales spectrum, for sale/lease of vehicles or parts alike.

Some automotive industry players have already begun to respond to this change in consumer interest. Porsche North America, Tesla Inc., Lynk & Co., and Rivian Automotive Llc are among the major companies that have initiated the direct sale of vehicles to the public through an online platform.

Similarly, dealers are also acknowledging the merits of e-commerce for automotive sales. For example, the Las Vegas-based Findlay Automotive Group has established an entirely digital car purchase program designed specifically for customers who prefer to shop from the comfort of their own homes rather than make a visit to the dealership. (Source:

Traditional retail, fully-online, or omnichannel – the basic business-channel conundrum are automotive aftermarket players facing

Despite the massive digital influence of technologies such as e-commerce on automotive buying behavior, there is still a major chunk of the customer population that prefers the human element and tangibility of an in-person experience, when it comes to the actual transaction. In light of these trends, several modern online-only automotive aftermarket retailers are working towards striking up alliances with physical suppliers, service providers, and manufacturers, to deliver an omnichannel experience, otherwise known as bricks & clicks business model.

In essence, a bricks & clicks model involves the operation of a retail company via an online or digital store (clicks) as well as a physical establishment (bricks), thus combining both into a single retail strategy.

A notable example of this includes automotive part dealers delivering targeted content on their websites to ensure buyer engagement while directing them towards in-person retail centers to carry out activities such as purchase completion and test drives. Continental AG, for instance, has introduced a new e-commerce automotive aftermarket portal, which contains bundled information regarding the company’s entire product and service portfolio. The portal consists of a comprehensive digital catalog of various Continental brands and products, allowing customers to easily identify the correct part from the selected range. Furthermore, the platform also facilitates seamless integration between the customer and the right contact person for specific product and service groups. (Source:

The COVID-19 impact and the road ahead

In the automotive sector, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has triggered a tremendous, long-term disruption, creating an economic upheaval that is fundamentally different from anything observed during previous crises. Aside from the decline in GPDs, which is typical during economic downturns, the impact of this drop is considered to be two times worse than during the last recession, with a longer impact and extreme uncertainty over the upcoming years.

For example, nationwide lockdowns and physical distancing measures across the globe have marked a sharp decline in both customer foot traffic, as well as VMT (vehicle miles traveled). Also, with social distancing directives keeping populations largely housebound and the subsequently low vehicle density, collision rates have witnessed a massive decline. For instance, in Seattle alone, collisions have decreased by around 50% during the government-induced containment efforts, including travel restrictions. These conditions, alongside a potentially slow economic recovery trajectory, indicate that automotive aftermarket demand may not return to pre-pandemic levels for years.

That said, the rising affinity of customers towards online purchases may generate lucrative opportunities for novel e-commerce automotive aftermarket business models and service solutions. Several key businesses and consumers have already begun their transition towards e-commerce for aftermarket auto parts, a trend that is expected to persist in the foreseeable future.

Should automotive aftermarket players take strong long-term efforts now to enhance their business through e-commerce and adapt to the so-called “new normal”, the industry could likely make a stronger comeback from the crisis in the years ahead.


Coronavirus: Five Severe Hits to the Automotive Industry

As the coronavirus pandemic is engulfing the world, it is adversely affecting the very structure of our society across the globe in a hitherto unprecedented way. The countries and international organizations around the world are trying hard to halt the progress of this pandemic. The people with infection need urgent medical care, and the people who do not have infection yet are isolating in their own homes.

The risk of infection is making it mandatory to stop all the activities of every industry and economic activity in our society to minimize the transmission of the virus. However, with no vaccine or cure in sight, it can be a long battle before normalcy is restorable.

 According to experts, more people are likely to stay at home in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will reduce the demand for cars. Automakers have yet to see the impact of the pandemic and the real impact may only come out in the coming months. Here are the five most severe impacts of the coronavirus on the car industry.

1. Lockdowns and Curfews

Several governments across the world are imposing lockdowns and curfews in the respective countries to try and limit the spread of the virus among the population. The mode of transmission of the coronavirus is from one person to another. Since the coronavirus is highly infectious, there is a need for people to keep their distance from each other.

The places that people tend to crowd are extremely susceptible to be hotspots of transmission of the disease to many other people. Hence the doctors around the world are advising the population to follow the norms of social distancing. Cleaning your hands regularly with sanitizers or soaps to prevent the transmission of the virus is a crucial prevention method.

People do not want to go out shopping and in the U.S., the places with the maximum reports of coronavirus are already witnessing a drop in demand. Since the lockdowns are affecting the general way of life of people and there is no need for people to purchase a car in these times, it is leading to a natural decline in demand for cars and bikes such as the Yamaha wr250r.

2. Economic Slowdown

The countries across the world are facing a crisis, and the panic is causing an economic slowdown across the world. The slowdown is also causing the stock markets around the world to take a hit. Economic slowdowns always adversely affect the car industry as people tend to find a decrease in wealth for making such purchases. Even if the world recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, the economic impact is bound to cause ripples for months to come.

Although the long term effects of the pandemic are still unclear, car manufacturers are expecting only a delay in the purchases against people refraining from making the purchase. The reason for this expectation is that the people buy cars only due to their need for a car and not on a whim and hence can not postpone their purchase indefinitely.

3. Closing Down of Factories

In order to stop the spread of the virus and curb the transmission, the various countries are shutting down the factories operating in their state. Since there is a need for workers to be present and working in factories for ensuring smooth and continuous production of cars, manufacturing is not going on. China is a major hub of car manufacturing, and as the disease originates from the country, many plants are shut down.

Many workers come in close contact in manufacturing plants, and hence they can act as hubs of disease transmission. Only the essential services are operational for limiting close human interaction and slowing down transmission. This is slowing down the manufacturing of cars around the world.

4. Need for Medical Equipment

Due to the sudden onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a sudden surge in demand for emergency medical equipment and protective gear. Many factories are also now producing face masks and ventilators as they are in acute shortage and are currently in high demand. Since the repurposing of factories is taking place, car manufacturing is coming to a standstill.

The manufacturers are not able to use their production line for the manufacture of cars. Hence, they can easily repurpose their plants to make the medical necessities by making slight modifications to the production line. They will need an expert to monitor and guide the production as the ventilators are complex machines. Manufacturers are working closely with government officials and health authorities for the production of ventilators.

5. Slow Down of International Trade

Due to the effect of globalization, every industry sources their raw materials and individual parts in different countries throughout the world for keeping the manufacturing cost low. Since some countries are stopping the production of materials due to the coronavirus, manufacturing plants all over the world are facing acute shortages.

The manufacturing plants of cars in other countries are also facing a shortage of parts and raw materials due to international trade restrictions in light of the current situation. This leads to the slow down or temporary stopping of the manufacturing process of cars around the world.


The virus is already present in every inhabitable continent throughout the world and almost every country is seeing a rapid spread of the disease amongst its population. As so, every country is imposing restrictions on the people venturing outside their homes for work and other needs to limit the spread of the pandemic.

The automobile industry is responding to the calls from the government to aid in manufacturing the face masks and ventilators in these trying times. The global economy is suffering and approaching a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic and the automobile industry is also undergoing a crisis. As a responsible citizen, you must adhere to the regulations for curbing the spread of the disease and get back to normalcy in the fastest possible time.


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