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Changing lanes: the beginner’s guide to selling online

Feature   |   Posted: 08/18/2021
Posted by: Motorhead Digital

Who doesn’t want a 24/7 salesman? Here’s how to get started

By Barry Alt

Who doesn’t want a 24/7 salesman? Here’s how to get started

Online selling isn’t restricted to Tire Rack, Summit Racing Equipment or RockAuto – it’s an unrivaled opportunity for performance and restyling professionals to seriously increase their revenue, and more importantly – their profit.

Last year, sales of auto parts and accessories in the United States equaled roughly $140 billion, with $15 billion of that happening online, according to marketing and research firm Hedges & Company. This year, sales of automotive parts and accessories on cell phones will exceed $7.4 billion – about 60.2% of the estimated total of online sales.

If you think selling online is just for products, think again! To get your share of the ever-increasing amount of online sales, there are plenty of online selling options to choose from.

You can sell services such as a basic performance tuneup, schedule time on your dyno or sell custom tuning packages that include parts installation. You can even sell your time and expertise online by doing consultations via online scheduling and conferencing (Zoom and Skype are two examples of platforms that can help you do this).

Not convinced? Try Googling ‘schedule a tune up appointment near me’ and see all the auto shops near you that have already started selling online.

Thinking of cashing in on the huge opportunities available to your company online? There are a few things to consider before getting started which we’ll cover in this article. It’s not simple, but it IS profitable. We’ve shared a few insider secrets in this piece to make your online presence successful, quicker.

So, here are our top tips for auto shops looking to start selling online.

  1. What are you selling, and to who?
  2. Get all your content together and ready
  3. Choose the right eCommerce platform for your needs
  4. Time to build this thing!
  5. Start your online selling marketing strategy
  6. Keep at it!

1. What are you selling, and to who?
It might seem obvious, but we can’t state how important it is to have a clear, well-thought-out product/service/price list. You can’t get your online selling strategy down unless you know exactly what you’re looking to promote.

Thinking about putting up an online shop to sell your services and accessories? You’re going to need a completely different approach than someone who’s looking to implement an online appointment booking system for tune-ups or dyno time for example.

First things first though, you need to look at your audience.

  • Who are you selling to?
  • Will they buy your services or products online?
  • Where do they hangout online?
  • Are they into DIY options or done-for-you services?
  • Where can you advertise to get their attention?

Once you’ve figured out what (and who) you want to focus on, you’ll know what you need out of your website.

To get the best return on your investment, you want to take some time to consider your long-term strategy for getting (and keeping) new customers. Have you got a plan in place to help give your new customer the same unrivaled experience they’d get in person? Are you ready to offer shipping? Do you know how much shipping costs and how long it takes? Remember, if you’re offering next day delivery, you need to deliver the next day! Don’t promise what you can’t deliver! Pun intended.

This might seem a bit like overkill, but the more you know about who you’re trying to sell to and how you’re going to do it, the easier it will be to connect with them (and eventually turn them into loyal, repeat customers).

Pro tip: If you’ve already got a website, you’ll need to find out if it can support the addition of an e-commerce store/online payment system and if not you may need to have your new online store setup on a new platform eveloped to support ecommerce. This will greatly influence the price you’ll pay for site development as well as your monthly ongoing hosting and care plan fees.

2. Get all your content together and ready
Content covers a wide variety of online assets, including: photos, text, videos, price lists, product lists, service lists etc.

When it comes to selling products online you’ll need more than just a nice set of photos and a brief description of your products. In our industry, customers expect to have detailed technical specs so you’ll need this info on hand. Oh and don’t forget since you may be shipping your products you’ll need to know the weight of each item.

In this industry, the power of good photography can’t be underestimated. Great product photography is the easiest way to attract new customers. A high quality set of photos showcasing your premises, your services or your products can be used for multiple platforms – from your website to social media, trade show exhibits to flyers.

The same goes for good website text (otherwise known as copy or content writing) – get it done right the first time and you can re-use your key messaging on all your website and marketing material going forward.

We recommend that you hire a professional photographer as well as a content writer to help you with this task, content writers can also make sure your content is written properly for search engine optimization.

If you’re doing any of your site’s content yourself, make sure you run it by someone you trust for honest feedback. You want a professional online presence, so avoid blurry photos and spelling mistakes! Also remember that you need to think about your customers and how they may interact with your site, getting too technical or wordy might turn them off. These days, less is more. Clear and concise is the way forward!

3. Choose the right eCommerce platform for your needs
There are hundreds of options for eCommerce platforms. That’s an overwhelming thought as is, let alone trying to figure out what one has the best features for your needs!

An easy rule to follow: stick to a popular option like Shopify, Volusion, BigCommerce or WooCommerce for WordPress, as these will have great support for your chosen web developer to solve any future issues that may arise, they’ll also support your growth when the orders start coming in (and if you need to switch web design agencies, you’ll have more choice of companies that can work with your site).

You’ll also be required to choose an online payment gateway to collect the payments through your site. The most popular and reliable options are PayPal and Stripe. Keep in mind that online payment gateways will take a % of each sale you make this ranged from 2.9 – 3.9% – this goes for websites selling both products and services. You’ll also need to meet PCI credit card compliance standards, this sounds scary but if you or your selected developer uses a top quality ecommerce platform like the ones previously mentioned, they usually have this covered but you’ll want to confirm before moving forward.

If you’re looking to take payments online or schedule services on-site (or at trade or car shows), you’ll want to find make sure the platform and/or payment gateway you select provides a mobile app or is mobile-ready…

Please head on over to the Motorhead Digital Blog for the rest of this article.

Barry is the founder of Motorhead Digital, providing signature Marketing Maximizer™ programs specifically developed for auto restoration, performance and restyling shops. These programs are geared towards customer acquisition and conversion to keep those project bookings coming. With over 23 years of experience in digital marketing and web development, Barry’s goal is to help clients market and grow their shops through strategic marketing practices. You can reach him at (585) 766-9785balt@motorheaddigital.com or online at MotorheadDigital.com

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