How to sell car parts online: a beginner's guide
This post was last updated on June 21, 2023.
It’s never been a better time to sell car parts and accessories online both to businesses and end consumers.
Light-duty automotive aftermarket sales are predicted to increase to $325 billion this year—a jump of over 11 percent compared with 2020. Category leaders like Advanced Auto Parts reported their net sales were up nearly 6 percent ($2.6 billion) for the Q2 2022 fiscal quarter versus the previous fiscal year.
The robust auto sales market, combined with the rapid migration of selling car parts to B2C/B2B shoppers on online channels, is an incredible opportunity for auto parts business ideas.
In fact, nearly 60 percent of consumers shopping for automotive parts and accessories are doing so online. This is up 8 percent compared with 2020, according to recent UPS and comScore research.
Which car parts sell the best online?
There are a few different approaches you’ll need to consider when selling car parts online including how you plan to source and ship your products and the best channels to reach consumers.
You’ll also want to focus on the most popular auto parts consumers buy through online channels. While all car parts tend to sell well, making it one of the more profitable eCommerce business ideas you can pursue, there are four categories of parts that are in high demand online. These include:
Service parts: Tires, suspension parts, brake system parts, fuel filters, shocks/struts, batteries and clutch kits.
Electrical parts: Alternators, fuel pumps/injectors, starters, fuses, relays and cables.
Mechanical parts: Engine mounts, radiators, transmissions, timing chains, camshifts, crankshafts, spark plugs, cylinder heads, valves/pistons, etc.
Interior parts: Dash panels, sun visors, shift knobs, seat covers and much more.
Exterior parts: Grilles, wiper blades, bumpers, side mirrors, headlights/tail lights, replacement bulbs and hubcaps.
Understanding what car parts people want most is only the first step in successful online selling. You’ll also need to know how and where consumers and businesses are shopping online for auto parts.
Know who you’re selling to
There are two main categories of people who buy auto parts online—wholesale and retail customers.
Each category can be further broken down into subcategories based on factors like user demographics and purchase intent. Narrowing down the characteristics of a specific user group allows you to target content, offers, and ads by audience.
Here are some examples:
Replacement parts shoppers: these are primarily end-use consumers shopping for the best price available on replacement parts (as opposed to upgrade parts). Age and sex play a role in the behaviors and motivations of these audiences. For example, a recent UPS survey found that men are more focused on fitment data, while women are more focused on price when shopping for car parts online.
Do-it-yourself shoppers (DIY): According to data from the Auto Care Association, DIY auto parts shoppers are typically end-consumers who purchase parts like filters, glass, lighting products, and electrical parts for replacement versus upgrade purposes. These are parts that tend to be less technical and easier to ship and sell.
DIFM (do it for me) shoppers: DIFM shoppers can be either end consumers or technicians. Either way, the typical DIFM purchase involves more complex parts (e.g., computers, exhaust components, etc.) with the intent being 'upgrade' versus 'replacement.' These shoppers are more tech-savvy overall and gravitate toward retailers who offer a range of shipping options since the parts in this category are often heavier than the DIY category.
The B2B shopper: This broad category includes auto parts wholesalers who sell to small vendors like auto shops, local garages, mechanics, and any business that services cars and/or sells parts to the end consumer.
Understanding who you’re selling to enables you to customize your content and provide a much more personalized eCommerce experience for shoppers.
The 5 best channels for selling car parts online
There are several channels people turn to when buying car parts online. What works for your business depends on what you’re selling and how you source your products. The three main approaches to product sourcing include:
Wholesaler: You buy your products in bulk for a discounted price and sell directly to your end customer. This may require that you store the products in a physical location like a warehouse or shop or use a wholesaler that supports dropshipping.
Manufacturer: You order the parts directly from the manufacturer who may ship to the dealer or end-consumer once the order is completed or ship to your facility to be picked up and/or shipped to the end customer.
Local sourcing/rummaging: You collect car parts yourself from local sources (e.g., junkyards, yard sales, etc.) and ship them directly from your location to the dealer or end-customer.
Regardless of how you source your products, you’ll need to use an online sales channel (or several) to get your products into the hands of online consumers.
Here are the top 5 online sales channels for auto parts, starting with setting up an online store.
01. Standard eCommerce website
Your online store is your digital storefront, the virtual face of your brand. If you don’t already have an eCommerce website (e.g., you have a physical store and/or are using online marketplaces), you can sell more products online by creating one. An online store lets you showcase your products without the clutter and competition of marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. It also enables you to establish trust and loyalty with customers, encouraging them to return to your store again and again when they need new parts.
eBay has a huge auto parts marketplace with over 110 million live parts. According to eBay, three auto parts or accessories are sold every second on the platform, a wheel or tire part is sold every six seconds, and fourteen complete engines are sold every hour. eBay provides selling tools specifically to auto parts dealers, for example, by enabling you to list parts compatibility specifications (years, makes, models, etc.) Another bonus: you can sell used parts on eBay (not the case with Amazon).
Amazon has a higher barrier to entry for selling auto parts versus eBay. They don’t allow vendors to sell used auto parts and the category is gated, meaning sellers must apply for approval before they can sell auto parts on the platform. You’ll need a professional selling account, UPC codes for major brands, an understanding of Amazon’s Part Finder and Fitment Data, a manufacturer or remanufacturer warranty for refurbished products, and compliant product images.
04. Local seller sites
Websites and social channels like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor are great online outlets to reach local consumers, particularly for larger parts that may be expensive to ship. You can advertise individual parts on these sites or direct users to your online store.
05. Omnichannel eCommerce platform
If an eCommerce website is the virtual face of your brand, then an omnichannel eCommerce platform is the next level of providing digital customer service.
Omnichannel selling incorporates all channels that consumers use to find and acquire products, factoring in multiple touchpoints, payment gateways, and fulfillment options and integrating it all under one virtual “roof.”
Consumers judge businesses based on their overall shopping experience with a vendor both online and offline. An omnichannel eCommerce platform, like Wix eCommerce, ensures you connect the dots of a customer’s shopping journey so you can deliver the best possible experience. Integrating directly with Amazon and eBay is easy through the Wix App Market. After connecting your respective Amazon Seller Account and eBay Shop, you’ll be able to manage your products from the corresponding sales tabs in your Wix dashboard.
Selling car parts on Wix
Our platform lets you choose from over 500 free online store templates and comes with a host of eCommerce features including a free SSL certificate, multiple payment and fulfillment options, and robust multichannel inventory management.
Having your own auto parts eCommerce storefront helps you establish your unique brand while leveraging powerful website features aimed at generating more sales and building a loyal audience. These include:
Branded marketing campaigns: choose from a selection of beautiful email templates which can be customized and used to promote your brand and store offers.
Lead generation: use Wix Forms to collect shopper and visitor contact information, accept online payments, get customer feedback, and more.
Product and store reviews: Establish trust and foster engagement by incorporating product reviews on your website.
Managing your own eCommerce auto parts website (versus selling parts on a marketplace like eBay), enables you to leverage these and many other website and eCommerce features including built-in SEO tools, discounts/coupons, detailed business and store analytics, and much more.
Learn more about Wix eCommerce and get started taking your eCommerce business online today.
Sell car parts FAQ
Can I sell used car parts online?
Yes, you can sell used car parts online. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Make sure that the parts you are selling are in good condition, provide clear and accurate descriptions of the parts, and set a fair price for the parts. This will help to ensure that you have a positive experience selling used car parts online.
Can you make money selling car parts?
Head of Outbound Marketing, Wix eCommerce
Bogar leads thought leadership and outbound marketing for Wix eCommerce. He has an extremely soft spot for all things eCommerce, retail, tech, content, and marketing.