Selling Car Parts & Accessories Part 1

emotiveE-Motive partners with companies to scale and grow clients across the world on various marketplaces offering store design, translated listings and multi lingual customer services in all categories of selling. Their specialised Automotive Parts & Accessories Team currently work with brands such as the RAC, Aston Martin and Vauxhall and also aftermarket parts companies such as Hella, Unipart and Febi Bilstein.

As specialists, the team works with marketplace catalogues helping sellers index their items and help to avoid issues around the marketplace duplication policy. You can drop them a line for further information on how to sell more on and this week they are writing three guest posts, the first of which is published today:

1. Introduction, eBay, Change or Risk Being Restricted.
2. Amazon, Changes for the Better But Not Without Some Pain.
3. The Cross Border Trade Opportunity on Marketplaces for Parts & Accessories.

1. Introduction, eBay, Change or Risk Being Restricted

eBay Motors smThe Car Parts and Accessories category has been one that rarely gets the love it deserves on marketplaces. It is not a vertical that is particularly sexy like Fashion or Tech. It is hard to catalogue as there are challenges around fitment compatibility and it is not as easy to list unlike the latest iPhone where you can pull up a library image, item specifics and a description by inputting the EAN, model number or serial number. Imagery is poor, particularly those with genuine original manufacturers parts. You cannot ignore however, that it is the third biggest area for sales on marketplaces after fashion and tech, with a car selling every 40 seconds on Ebay and a car part every 6 seconds.

The eBay Parts & Accessories journey in the UK…

Starter MotorLike a rusty old car, eBay has been on a long journey with the Parts & Accessories (P & A) vertical over the years. Listings were very dependent upon key word search, requiring the vehicle details to be put into the title. The challenge around this is that a lot of the same parts fit different vehicles which, on occasions, created over 10,000 duplicates so that the buyer couldn’t find the item. Things had to change as this filled the site with many duplicate listings and a very poor buying experience.

The first big change was in allowing item specifics to be relevant to the part being sold. This was quickly followed by eBay launching the Master Vehicle List (MVL) around 3 years ago. Now, for all you ‘non P & A sellers’ this list provides details of the make, model, shape, engine size, variant and year which then gave a code. This code was then applied to the listing which gave confidence to the buyer that the part would be compatible.

Sounds all good stuff, but it was up to the seller to go through all the codes and apply them to every listing. The early MVL was not complete so there were vehicles missing from it. Also, both the MVL and item specifics were not indexed for search initially so the general view from sellers was that the effort versus reward to match all their listings to both these facilities was just not worth it.

One great feature that eBay introduced is “My Garage”. This enabled the buyer to save details of their vehicle in their eBay profile and parts would then be suggested for their vehicle based on that information. In order to tap into that you had to match your listings to the eBay MVL.

So what changed a year ago on eBay for P & A?

Something had to change. eBay listened to sellers to make the MVL matches much better for the vehicle car park and you suddenly found that you were favoured a little more through Best Match Search on eBay. One cool feature that eBay introduced when you match a car part eBay’s MVL and did not put the vehicle it fits into the title of the listing, when a buyer used eBay search to find a car part the vehicle details they searched by appeared next to the title of the item. This gave extra confidence to the buyer that the item was applicable for their car.

Here comes that Big Stick ……

The new approach to providing a better experience for buyers and to reduce the amount of duplicate listings for P & A on the platform is to remove listings automatically and send a warning each time to the seller. Things are checked by the “eBay-bot” to check the item is the same and then delists one of them.

I have also known three P & A sellers recently that have been given a listing restriction for not dealing with duplicate listings. Talking with the powers at eBay, they inform us that they are not afraid to suspend accounts if sellers do not comply with the duplicate listing policy, so each automated email you receive with a warning brings you one step closer to that time. The challenge around this is to then talk to someone at eBay, which as I am sure many of you will agree, is incredibly difficult with all the recent changes brought into play recently.

The latest seller release also suggests this is being tackled from a different direction. Most P & A sellers that sell “the old way” have over 50,000 listings and this will soon result in being charged more to list over that number. With the listing surcharge of 10p a month coming soon for any listing that has not sold for 18 months it will create challenges for a part which has been listed many, many times which will then become expensive!

So what do I do with my listing to be eBay compliant as a P & A seller?

List one part with one listing with the compatibility matched from the eBay MVL, just a word of warning there is a 10,000 vehicle limit for each listing but eBay accept a duplicate based on this limit being filled.

The positives to this is that eBay favours listings in this format and by pooling the individual ones it will create more sales on one listing. The downside is that this takes a lot of time and effort but unfortunately time is running out.

One final thing, these rules only apply for the UK and German; US and Australia have their own vehicle list and I will talk about the other countries in part 3.