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How to Start an Automotive eCommerce Business and Sell Auto Parts Online

Maria Navolykina
Maria Navolykina Author

Published: June 27, 2023. Updated: May 31, 2024

Whether you are a newbie in the auto parts eCommerce world or a seasoned auto parts seller, you always look for new ways to enhance your sales strategy, adjust your business goals, grow brand awareness, and beat the competition. Look no further. 

Our complete guide to selling auto parts online will explain essential steps to making your automotive store successful and equip you with the tools and techniques to start and run a profitable eCommerce business. 

We’ve addressed topics such as identifying top-selling goods, understanding consumer behavior, selecting appropriate eCommerce software, and connecting with reliable automotive catalog suppliers and warehouse distributors.

1. Know the market: How to choose the right niche

Thorough market research is key when choosing your niche. This research should help you determine the demand, define the margins you can afford, understand manufacturer prices, calculate the cost of shipping and fulfillment, and estimate potential logistics issues. 

Even though the auto parts market is relatively conservative, it’s dynamic enough. New trends are constantly emerging, such as growing consumer interest in electric vehicle (EV) components as sustainability is becoming increasingly popular or the increasing number of older vehicles on the road

According to IBIS, the auto parts retail market in the U.S. generated sales of $81.1 billion in 2023 and is predicted to grow to $91.3 billion by 2028.

New critical parts represent the highest percentage ($35.6 billion), followed by maintenance parts ($27.7 billion), performance parts ($9.9 billion), used critical parts ($4.9 billion), and vehicle accessories ($3.1 billion).

Auto parts sales %
Source: SharpSheets

So, here are the main steps you should take to find a profitable niche before you start selling car parts online:

1. Identify target market: Determine the target market for the auto parts you want to sell. Consider your car parts buyers’ age, gender, location, vehicle types, and specific market needs.

2. Research competition: Conduct extensive research on other businesses in the online auto parts market. Look for opportunities to differentiate yourself, such as selling underrepresented auto parts or offering unique customer service.

3. Determine demand: Investigate the demand for auto parts, including popular makes and models, current market trends, and specific customer needs regarding auto parts.

4. Analyze pricing strategies: Determine a pricing strategy that is competitive and sustainable while meeting economic and customer-based requirements for your business.

2. Know the demand: What car parts sell the most?

‘Auto parts’ is a broad term that includes many narrower categories: spare parts, interior, exterior, headlights, wheels and tires, and many more. Each of these, in turn, can be further divided into specific manufacturer brands, parts for particular vehicle types, or even for specific car models.

Let’s not get that granular; just see the most popular categories currently in demand in the automotive industry.

Wheels and Tires 

Actually, the more accurate word choice will be ‘wheels and suspension’ as it includes everything from wheels to tires to shocks and struts to hubcaps. 

Wheels and tires, often classified as external parts due to their similar selling patterns, actually represent a distinct niche with its own unique selling points. These include the need for a specific shipping plan to facilitate their delivery and the requirement for accurate fitment data from automotive suppliers, which sets them apart from other automotive products. 

When selling wheels and tires online, it’s essential to provide your customers with tools that enhance their shopping experience. This includes enabling them to narrow their search through advanced filtering options such as diameter, width, offset, and tread width.

Additionally, a fitment check feature can be a game-changer, allowing customers to verify if the product is compatible with their vehicle. You can also offer the ability to set up custom wheel or tire dimensions, further personalizing their shopping experience.

One exciting feature on your automotive eCommerce website is the visualization tool. This tool allows customers to see how various product options will look on their vehicle, sparking their interest and helping them make more informed purchasing decisions. For example, AutoSync Visual Vehicle Studio will enable customers to try on the wheels for their car models virtually.

AutoSync-tires-visualizer
Source: House of Toyz

Interior Parts

Automotive products such as heated seats, seat covers, carpets, lighting, cleaning tools and kits, ventilation systems, etc. fall into this category. These car parts are designed to enhance the overall comfort and convenience of the vehicle’s interior while offering protection from wear and tear.

They don’t really require any special sales techniques, website interface changes, or advanced fitment checks beyond your normal business approach. Additionally, many of these items need to be replaced regularly, making the demand evergreen.

Exterior Parts

Another great category to tap into is exterior parts and accessories. Some items that fall under this category are bumpers, fenders, grilles, hoods, mirrors, spoilers, roof racks, and splash guards.

Other exterior parts include door handles, hinges, fuel tanks, exhaust systems, headlights, taillights, and window tinting. These products form an integral part of a vehicle’s structure, providing protection and support while also contributing to its overall aesthetic value.

Many of these parts are perfect for selling on online platforms, such as eBay, and/or in an online store of your own. However, most of them require accurate fitment information to be in place and easily accessible.

Maintenance Parts 

A few examples of maintenance parts are oil and air filters, spark plugs, fluids (such as coolant and oil), lightbulbs and headlights, batteries, timing belts, etc.

These parts are essential to the proper functioning and longevity of a vehicle, and regular maintenance of these parts can help prevent breakdowns and costly repairs in the future. In addition to regular checks and replacements of these parts, regular inspections of the vehicle’s mechanical components and functionality are also important for proper maintenance. This makes the demand even more ever-green than that of interior parts. 

These items are also normally available in car workshops and showrooms, which makes them your potential target market as well. 

Other popular categories in the automotive industry are replacement parts for popular car models (e.g., Jeep Wrangler), specialty products (racing tires or off-road equipment), aftermarket performance parts (upgrades to the engine and exhaust systems), and more.

3. Know your buyer persona: Who buys auto parts online? 

Identifying your target buyer is critical when constructing an eCommerce website. If you have an existing website, use analytics tools such as Google Analytics to assess the profile of your current users. For those without a website, online market research is available to explore the behavior of automotive aftermarket buyers and sellers.

Being familiar with your audience offers valuable insights into the best methods of selling auto parts online. Examples of such audiences include auto shops, local garages, vendors, and B2B wholesalers, while end consumers may include automotive enthusiasts or individuals seeking a specific part for their own vehicle.

By identifying your target demographic, you can better tailor your marketing efforts to boost customer satisfaction and increase online sales. Reach out to local mechanics and car enthusiasts to understand their user experience and pain points.

4. Know your competition: Choose eCommerce Sales Channels 

The information below is not only a list of your potential competitors. It is also a list of opportunities to scale your business by offering your products via various sales channels and partnering with distributors and manufacturers to provide a wider choice of auto parts in your store at competitive prices.

Online marketplaces 

Selling car parts on Amazon or having parts listings on eBay Motors means tapping into a new large customer base and expanding your own. These platforms allow buyers to search for specific parts based on make, model, and year and provide pricing information and shipping options.

eCommerce websites 

Independent auto parts retailers, such as AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts – and potentially you – can also sell car parts online. These retailers often have established brick-and-mortar stores and eCommerce websites that make it easy for customers to purchase the required parts and have them delivered directly to their doors.

5. Know your steps: Develop a business plan

Selling car parts online requires more than just building an eCommerce website. Before starting, it is crucial to conduct pre-planning and research. After that, develop a business plan, which is essential because no one can hit the target with their eyes closed.

Below are the essential things to consider before planning your business strategy:

1. Business Model: After researching the auto parts market and identifying the niche, choose a business model that would align with your target market, products, required investments, and long-term business goals. You can select auto parts dropshipping or become a car parts dealer.

2. Budget Estimates: Since starting an eCommerce business may require an initial investment, determine your budget and funding sources.

3. Target Market: Create a comprehensive plan covering target audience engagement, brand-building, and marketing strategies to promote your brand and sell auto parts online profitably.

6. Know legal requirements: Register your business

Understanding local, state, and federal tax regulations and obtaining all the necessary licenses and permits is essential for any business. Furthermore, registering your auto parts business is more than just a matter of following rules.

Here are some benefits that a company gets once it becomes registered and recognized by the law:

  1. Registration strengthens your company’s reputation. By showing your address and other essential details on your website, you contribute to customer trust.
  2. If your company is registered, obtaining funding from banks and other finance institutions is easier. Registration gives your company an identity and makes it a valuable asset in the eyes of banks.
  3. Registration allows you to segregate your business funds from your personal finances, protecting you from tax problems. Whether you pay weekly or annually, separating your company checking account from your personal bank account will allow you to access the essential information for your tax statements quickly and easily.

7. Build an online store: Choose an automotive eCommerce platform

We have a detailed guide that will help you choose an eCommerce solution for your auto parts store and another one comparing several options. We won’t bore you with too many details here, but we’ll outline the main criteria of choosing an automotive eCommerce solution.

  • Automotive-specific functionality, allowing you to automate and facilitate product data management.
  • Powerful fitment search, such as Year/Make/Model filters (preferably a native functionality, not a third-party plugin) and VIN lookup.
  • Unlimited number of SKUs and dedicated hosting.
  • Integrations with auto parts catalog providers, such as SEMA Data, ASAP Network, AutoSync, and others.
  • Product bundling and bulk editing.
  • Partnerships with auto parts distributors with opportunities for dropshipping.
  • Mobile-first automotive design templates.
  • The ability to tweak not only storefront design, but the functionality as well
  • Automated data and order management tools. 

X-Cart is an all-in-one eCommerce solution for those seeking to sell auto parts online. With a comprehensive set of features, including powerful catalog management functionality, advanced filtering options, partnerships with auto parts catalog providers and warehouse distributors, advanced fitment search, and order management tools, X-Cart offers everything you need to create a professional auto parts online store.

Gear Up Car Parts Sales Growth With X-Cart


Whether you decide to go for X-Cart or choose one of the automotive-focused alternatives, remember that the eCommerce platform should streamline your business processes and help eliminate manual labor wherever possible in favor of automation. This way, you can expect to spend your time actually developing your business instead of wasting resources maintaining your eCommerce platform. 

8. Create your product catalog: Facilitate data imports

Managing your product catalog is one of the most crucial aspects of establishing an auto parts eCommerce business. This includes importing credible and standardized auto parts data and converting it into your parts listings.

Since a car parts eCommerce catalog generally contains thousands of SKUs, updating and managing it requires fast bulk import options and robust integrations with trusted auto parts data networks, such as ASAP Network, SEMA Data, or AutoSync.

For example, X-Cart is the eCommerce platform that provides all the integrations mentioned above as built-in functionality and offers ready-made integrations with catalog data providers. You can quickly and easily import auto parts product data from major aftermarket data providers, set up the import start time, and upload data regularly, thus ensuring timely and verified catalog updates.

9. Streamline your logistics: Set up order fulfillment

Ensure you have an efficient fulfillment strategy in place. While some automotive businesses spend lots of time manually fulfilling orders, struggling for better delivery times, managing returns, and balancing the quality of the shipping service and its cost, there is a solution to help you avoid logistics hassle.

X-Cart provides automated order and data processing through the pre-built integrations with the Turn 14 Distribution and Keystone Automotive Operations to help you manage your stock and catalogs effortlessly across your distribution channels.

10. Bring efficiency into eCommerce processes: How to automate your store

Managing taxes, shipments, and inventory levels can be a time-consuming process. Fortunately, many eCommerce platforms offer integrations with payment gateways, tax management software providers, and shipping carriers, to name a few.

With these integrations, you can streamline your internal operations, reduce the risk of errors, and free up more time to focus on expanding your business and serving your customers.

In a while, after setting up all the processes and getting all the required integrations, ask yourself how much time and resources you spend on:

  • accessing various channels to modify inventory levels?
  • downloading the files from suppliers to keep stock or pricing up to date?
  • dispatching orders, verifying data, and subsequently updating channels?
  • inputting data into internal systems and channels?

Summing up: If you want to spend less time on manual, repetitive, error-prone tasks and devote more attention to optimizing your products and sales, automation is the solution.

The complete all-in-one automotive eCommerce solution that combines the online storefront with the built-in fitment search, secure checkout, automated catalog data management, and order distribution can take your business to the next level.

Headless eCommerce helps businesses create a sole ecosystem where several apps and software solutions interact with each other using application programming interfaces or APIs. Thus, you can connect your online store to other apps, data sources, ERP, or CRM systems to synchronize and manage your data via a single admin panel.

X-Cart is an API-driven software solution featuring over 100 eCommerce partners. With our integrations, automate your business workflow and make selling online a pleasurable experience.

Save Time and Resources with the Automation Done Right

Don’t compromise profitability for time and money savings.

Have it all with X-Cart!

11. Know your stuff: How to attract and keep your customers

After you’re all set with the logistics, your business will require two essentials to succeed: marketing to attract new customers and customer service to gain customer loyalty. 

Your marketing efforts may include digital advertising, social media marketing, emails, as well as offline marketing (billboards, flyers, gift cards, radio, etc.). Make sure you take into consideration your shoppers’ whereabouts: favorite media channels, industry forums they might like, news portals, interest groups. Quick tip: check relevant Reddit and Quora threads for ideas and maybe even potential customers

Entering the automotive industry, you should already be aware that your potential customers are rather set in their ways and expect a high level of customer service.

A great customer service in its broad definition includes smooth on-site experiences, seamless omni-channel presence, competitive offerings, and the availability of your products as well as pre-sale and post-sale communications. In other words, anything that impacts customer loyalty and consequently your retention rates.

TL;DR

Since this was a rather lengthy article, let us summarize it for you in the eleven most crucial steps:

1. Choose a platform to sell on: You can create your own website and sell through it with the help of an automotive-centric eCommerce platform, plus it’s never a bad idea to consider selling on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, or other online platforms.

2. Research the auto parts market: Know your products, what is in demand, how much are they selling for, etc. 

3. Determine your pricing strategy: Decide whether to sell at a discount or try to sell at a premium price by offering high-quality products.

4. Know your target audience: Define your buyer persona and discover the most engaging ways to communicate with your customers. 

5. Register your business: Comply with local and state regulations to avoid legal issues and boost customer loyalty.

6. Partner with suppliers: Find reliable suppliers to source quality auto parts for resale. 

7. Develop product listings: Create detailed and accurate product descriptions, including high-quality photos, clear specifications, and accurate compatibility information. 

8. Monitor your inventory: Keep track of your sales and make sure you have enough inventory to meet customer demand. 

9. Promote your brand: Leverage social media, email marketing, and other channels to build brand awareness and drive sales. 

10. Provide exceptional customer service: Respond quickly to customer queries, fulfill orders efficiently, and offer a generous return policy to build a strong reputation for your auto parts business.

11. Review and adjust: Monitor progress, review and adjust your sales and marketing strategy, pricing plan, distribution channels, and outreach activities to address the latest market trends and maintain customer satisfaction.

Maria Navolykina
Maria Navolykina Marketing Manager

Maria is a marketing manager at X-Cart. Once captured by digital and content marketing in her student days, she keeps living and breathing it ever since.

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