Driving Aftermarket Sales Online in a Down Economy

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: February 19, 2014

Not too many years ago most people shopped in their local stores complete with parking and weather problems, long lines, and wobbly shopping carts. Even when online shopping was available, people felt uncomfortable using their credit cards and giving their personal information to digital shops.

All of this has changed.

“By 2017, 60% of all U.S. retail sales will involve the Internet in some way, either as a direct e-commerce transaction or as part of a shopper’s research on a laptop or mobile device, according to a new report by Forrester Research Inc. entitled “U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Forecast, 2012 To 2017.” Following this trend, online sales of parts and accessories continues to grow with the potential of significantly outpacing brick and mortar sales in the near future, especially when it comes to equipment and machinery.


Not only does this spell opportunity digital sales growth across the board, it also presents a significant opportunity for manufacturers citing online sales as top challenge in 2014.

Smart manufacturers have recognized there is a reduced number of new buyers in the marketplace due to economics and therefore a reduced revenue stream. At the same time, products from foreign manufacturers are introduced into US spaces daily. Although these manufactured goods are built to look like US products, they are often of lower quality and craftsmanship with a lower price point. This shift is commoditizing manufactured goods at an increased rate and places pricing pressure on US manufacturers that now need to compete on price rather than quality.

With a decrease in buyers, increase in competition, and a less than desirable economy, driving aftermarket sales online is key to staying competitive and ensuring growth year over year.

What’s Driving the Charge?

Amazon’s helping lead the charge: A year ago Amazon was showing a very high growth rate in automotive and accessories, around 30% to 40% over the previous year. This year is a little slower (the same with eBay) but still, Amazon is around 25% or better.

Another factor driving online growth comes from hundreds of online retailers who started selling on eBay and Amazon, but are faced with constantly rising fees and are looking for ways to control their own destiny by selling on their own websites. Many of these online retailers are also getting more aggressive in 2013 with paid search and SEO to attract more customers.

Mobile is another influence, as shoppers living in a multi-screen world shift effortlessly from their computers to tablets to phones. Many online retailers see a spike in evening traffic on mobile devices, including tablets but especially smart phones.

The Key to Your Digital Sales Strategy 

Though Amazon has popularized online selling, we’re not talking about selling pencils and erasers – we’re talking about selling complex products, solutions and services. Therefore if you’re going to drive aftermarket sales in a down economy, the only way you’re likely to do that is through relationship selling – increasing brand awareness and brand loyalty by leveraging existing social and advertising channels. This approach will help reach more customers with less investment than is typically spent with traditional advertising.

Many of our clients see excellent results in repeat and returning sales via combined strategies of digital outreach. Donaldson Engine uses pay per click advertising specifically tuned to driving aftermarket sales through lead generation and nurturing. Although paid ads are the tactical means, fostering and nurturing ongoing relationships is core to the strategy and successes to date.

The US based specialized professional still places value on quality.  Locating these buyers and sustaining loyalty with them is critical to long-term success for US manufacturers.  These manufacturers can effectively seek out and connect with a specialized audience more effectively through the use of digital advertising and relationship building – both of which positively effect sales.

Contact Envano to learn more about specific tactics that can help drive aftermarket sales online.