HUDSON, Ohio — Online sales of automotive aftermarket parts are expected to exceed $10 billion this year and could grow to as much as $16 billion by 2021, a 20-percent annual growth rate, according to a new market study.
At the same time, online presence and activity by consumers and service professionals is influencing sales at brick-and-mortar stores like never before, the study contends, estimating $138 billion in parts and accessory sales through all sales channels will be influenced by the Internet.
The study, by Hudson-based Hedges & Co., defines online influence as consumers' doing online research before buying a part, reading information and checking fitment on a manufacturer's website, being exposed to online advertising, reading product or reseller reviews, going to automotive forums, or conducting a search on Google or Bing.
Sales of auto parts via e-commerce continue to outpace traditional brick-and-mortar retail sales, the market research firm said, posting a growth of 18.5 percent on average throughout the past few years.
The firm said it sees this slowing slightly, to an annual growth rate of 15 to 16 percent through 2021, by which time the size of the "influenced" market will have grown to nearly $152 billion in parts and accessory sales through all retail channels — chain retail stores, automobile dealers, big box retailers, local independent brick & mortar retailers, jobbers, etc.
The four most popular locations of online research used by consumers are: Online search (74 percent of all consumers); online auto parts retailer websites (73 percent); manufacturer websites (57 percent) and automotive forums (47 percent), Hedges & Co. said.
Online advertising has a broad reach, too, the company said, beyond text ads while consumers are searching on Google or Bing. It also includes Google Shopping and Bing Shopping, as well as banner ads on various display networks.
This points out the importance of manufacturers in taking control of their own brand message with their website.
In addition, the market researchers said, mobile auto parts e-ecommerce will break $5 billion in 2018.
Google.com, for example, has announced a separate organic index for searches conducted on mobile phones, which will depend on how mobile-friendly a site is and how fast it loads on mobile devices.
Online sales transacted on mobile phones will be valued at $5.7 billion this year, a hefty 30-percent increase over 2017, and will continue to grow at a pace of 25 percent a year or greater for several years before easing off to 20 percent around 2021.
While much of the automotive aftermarket has transitioned to mobile-friendly websites, a measurable share of aftermarket has not kept up with online technology vs. other industries.
For more information about the study or Hedges & Co., go to the firm's website.