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Auto parts sales for light vehicles soar in eCommerce

The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 and last year’s rebound in the car and light truck product volume significantly influenced the auto parts growth of eCommerce

Fort Wayne, Ind.—Over the past six years, eCommerce light vehicle auto parts sales have soared in the U.S. The disruptive aftermarket impact of COVID-19 in 2020 and last year’s rebound in the car and light truck product volume significantly influenced the auto parts growth of eCommerce and its three major types of volume: DIY, B2B, and o2o, according to a new analysis in the new 2023 Lang Aftermarket Annual.

“Between 2016 and 2021, eCommerce auto parts annual volume surged much faster than the growth pace of the total light vehicle aftermarket,” stated the report. The following are key takeaways from the study.

Strong eCommerce Growth

eCommerce light vehicle auto parts sales more than doubled in the U.S. between 2016 and 2020. This growth continued in 2021 but at a reduced rate. eCommerce auto parts sales surged at more than 12 times the annual growth pace of the total light vehicle aftermarket.

1P, 2P, and 3P eCommerce Transactions

Three groups of eCommerce transactions are included in this light vehicle aftermarket analysis: 1P, 2P, and 3P.

• In 1P (first party) auto parts sales, the eCommerce company (Platform/Marketplace/eSeller) takes ownership of the products and distributes them through their warehouses.

• In the 3P (third party) model, Manufacturers/Distributors sell products directly to consumers via an electronic platform (marketplace) such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, etc. In this model, the Manufacturers/Distributors, not the platform, own the product inventory, control the pricing, and fulfill orders for the products that the platform lists on its website.

• 2P (second party) transactions are a cross between 1P and 3P eCommerce. In the 2P model, the Manufacturers/Distributors partner with an eCommerce company that lists, sells and distributes their products. However, the eCommerce company (Platform/Marketplace/eSeller) does not own the products.

2020 Pivotal Year

COVID-19 forced light vehicle aftermarket product sales down by nearly 10% in 2020. At the same time, eCommerce auto parts volume recorded a historic increase of more than one-third.

2021 eCommerce Performance

Light vehicle aftermarket product sales rebounded strongly in 2021 with a $9 billion gain at user-price. The aftermarket returned to more normal business conditions last year, and eCommerce auto parts growth cooled to its average rate during 2018 and 2019.

Market Potential

A potential light vehicle auto parts market of more than $190 billion at user-price includes tires, wheels, various accessories, collision parts and other products and market segments.

eCommerce (based on a $190 billion market for 2021) more than doubled its share of light vehicle aftermarket product sales during 2021 compared to five years earlier.

Three Types of eCommerce Auto Parts Sales

Lang Marketing’s analysis of eCommerce divides auto parts sales into three major types: Do-It-Yourself (DIY), Business-to-Business (B2B), and Online to Offline (o2o).

The DIY volume includes auto parts purchases by consumers rather than professional technicians.

B2B volume includes eCommerce transactions between businesses. o2o sales involve the consumer online purchase of auto parts that are installed offline by DIFM outlets (often part of an installer network assembled by the online seller).

Differing Growth Rates by eCommerce Types

These three types of eCommerce have generated different shares of the rapidly expanding eCommerce auto parts market in the U.S. since 2016.

o2o transactions recorded rapid growth between 2016 and 2021. The o2o share of eCommerce parts expansion during these years topped their 2021 market share due to of their increasing annual share.

Although DIY sales rang up the largest share of eCommerce growth over the past six years, their market share declined.

B2B sales generated a one-third larger share of eCommerce auto parts growth between 2016 and 2021 years than their 2021 aftermarket share, due to their expanding annual share.

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