The automotive industry is at a crossroads. One way maintains the current status quo with little room for competitive edges and scalability, while the other path leads to reimagining its core operations and focusing on digital channels. While the latter path might seem intimidating at the moment, it is important to understand that the industry is moving towards digital selling as a business model for both B2B and B2C markets. Choosing to ignore buyer demands can hurt automotive brands in the long term.
Ultimately, the digital commerce experience is about enabling the people in your business and in your customers’ businesses to derive value from and be delighted by the innovative conveniences you provide. Oftentimes for automotive, these transformational projects include the replacement of existing websites, Electronic Parts Catalogs, and extensive data migration. While the objectives are clear, be careful to keep the details in mind- website experience, data migration specifications, and synchronization of enterprise systems to name a few.
While Electronic Parts Catalogs (EPCs) were thought of as a preferred way to bring digital to automotive, technology has advanced through the decades and legacy EPCs don’t provide the capabilities needed to truly scale and grow eCommerce for automotive sales and after-market parts and services.
While EPC hits a homerun when it comes to cataloging, at its heart, it is not a modern eCommerce system. When looking to expand upon digital commerce, users of EPC will find it is a very closed system with a generally poor user experience (UX). Automotive sellers today require a robust, open system that can seamlessly connect to data from other enterprise systems and provide the clean user experience buyers have come to expect in order to scale and remain competitive. Ultimately, either complimenting your EPC with eCommerce or replacing the EPC altogether will best serve the brand for future readiness, the ability to innovate, and create a truly smart tool for your constituents to leverage.
In addition to modernizing the online commerce experience, your technology needs to be designed to meet the complex needs of an automotive business whose customers are often businesses (or consumers) with their own complex needs.
The following is a shortlist of functionalities you’ll want to consider:
The digital experience should empower the user whether that is a dealer or consumer, to buy online themselves with the necessary capabilities.
eCommerce platforms provide the foundation for the automotive industry to build and grow its online commerce and aftermarket self-service channels. These modern platforms provide impressive out-of-box capabilities and robust tooling to extend and customize the solution that best fits your business objectives.
Another aspect of modern automotive eCommerce technology is that it opens the door to more rapid innovation moving forward. Consider the open/headless framework, which integrates better into the broader enterprise compared to many EPC. Modern commerce technology provides the foundation on which new innovative services and channels can provide the immersive experiences that audiences desire and will soon require to retain their loyalty. Limitless innovation is possible with the right modern commerce technology and partner.
Know that these solutions, however, often require extensive integration with enterprise systems and 3rd party service providers to efficiently orchestrate and automate the administration and delivery of services. You will want to clearly define the platform configurations, data migrations, integrations, data syncs, and schedules required to deliver your initial MVP solution and establish an architectural foundation for future phases.
In today’s evolving digital age, there are few investments worthy of more consideration than the launch of a new eCommerce business. These considerations require attention from IT and Business stakeholders alike. The execution of such an effort requires participation from people across many departments and disciplines to ensure the final solution delivers the intended business value, reliability, and return on your investment.
With years of eCommerce and electronic parts catalog experience, Echidna has helped many companies design, build, and use these systems to transform their business. Contact our team to start a conversation about your automotive eCommerce modernization today.