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Growing Consumer Connectivity Incites Online Sales of Automotive Parts in North America

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--Sept. 24, 2013: Lower pricing and increasing consumer trust in digital platforms are creating an environment conducive to the online sale of automotive parts and accessories in North America. The growing penetration of connected devices among consumers, combined with digitization, and supply chain improvements by automotive retailers and distributors will quicken customer migration to e-platforms.

As a result, revenue from the online sales of parts and accessories are expected to reach $16.56 billion in 2020, up from $4.6 billion in 2012, accounting for nearly 10 percent of overall aftermarket revenue. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Opportunity Analysis of eRetailing for Automotive Parts and Service in the North American Market, explores the impact of eRetailing traditional distribution channels and identifies which competitors will benefit from entry and participation in this market.

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"Automotive parts and accessories sold online on average are 20-40 percent cheaper than those sold through traditional channels," said Frost & Sullivan Automotive and Transportation Senior Industry Analyst Kumar Saha. "These reduced prices drive the eRetailing market for automotive parts and service in North America. Furthermore, due to the lack of clear laws governing online sellers, tax-free purchases have also been a key value proposition for eRetailers."

However, federal and state governments are introducing legislations that will mandate taxes for online procurement; thereby eroding some of the price advantage online retailers have over traditional retailers. In fact, as traditional retailers expand their digital portfolio and become more price competitive, customer convenience features, such as product support, rather than price will become differentiating factors in the North American automotive parts market.

Effective cataloguing of parts and accurate search algorithms will also be crucial for eRetailers' sales, as the rising complexity of automotive components dissuade most customers, particularly those that do not perform their own installations, from buying online. Until customers can find a product online with the same ease as they would at a physical store, Internet and mobile channels will continue to be niche options preferred only by tech-savvy, cost-conscious early adopters.

As such, merging elements of business-to-consumer strategies with business-to-business initiatives will help eRetailers widen their consumer base and extend their solutions to smaller, regional installers in North America that are currently serviced by traditional distributors.

"For traditional participants, such as dealers, looking to branch into eRetailing, offering real-time communication through a website or social media and 'purchase-online, store-pickup' schemes can draw buyers," noted Saha. "For automotive eRetailers and traditional automotive retailers that do not have their own service locations, partnering with installer groups and integrating their services on websites will enhance attractiveness for customers."

Several large automotive companies in the North American parts eRetailing market have already acquired smaller technology providers to strengthen their digital presence. This digital expansion, combined with the emergence of, will eat into the share of small- and medium-sized automotive eRetailers and lead to market consolidation.

Opportunity Analysis of eRetailing for Automotive Parts and Service in the North American Market is part of the Automotive & Transportation (Frost Automotive) Growth Partnership Service program. Frost & Sullivan's related research services include: North American Wiper Blade Aftermarket, Brazil Electric Vehicle Market, Strategic Comparative Analysis of European and North American Commercial Vehicles Telematics Market, and Australian Automotive Aftermarket. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.