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eCommerce is changing consumer repair choices — and competitive advantages

Millennials and Gen Xers have more trust in purchasing repairs from eCommerce platforms and large eSellers than in dealing directly with local repair shops

Fort Wayne, Ind.—Convenience and trust are changing how consumers purchase vehicle repair and where repair is done. There are two consumer factors are driving the growth of two Do-It-For-Me o2o (online to offline) eCommerce business models: “Mobile Auto Repair” and “eCommerce Platforms with Installation Networks.”

“Both of these business models embody o2o transactions,” states the latest Lang Aftermarket iReport. “o2o eCommerce is changing the relationship between consumers and repair outlets while expanding the range of automotive products and services that can be purchased online and installed offline (o2o).”

The following are highlights and key takeaways from the report.

Increasing Do-It-For-Me Convenience
Convenience has become a key competitive advantage of the two o2o DIFM eCommerce operations: Mobile Repair and eCommerce Platforms (including large eSellers) with Installer Networks.

These fast-growing o2o (online to offline) business models are increasing consumer convenience, capturing their trust and disrupting the competitive dynamics and value chains of the auto repair market.

Mobile Auto Repair
Currently, Mobile Auto Repair represents less than 2% of most repair categories, except windshield repair, where more than 60% of non-collision replacement is mobile.

Both the number of mobile technicians and market size of Mobile Auto Repair are growing rapidly. While not all Mobile Auto Repair businesses are engaged in o2o, the largest and fastest-growing are.

Platforms and Installation Networks
eCommerce platforms (and large eSellers) with Installer Networks represent the dominant share of o2o auto repair volume and its greatest growth potential.

Tires were one of the first major products targeted by this business model. Tire Rack was one of the initial o2o eSellers to focus on tires and has developed a nationwide network of independent installers. It has expanded its o2o sales to include wheels and undercar products such as suspension parts, shock absorbers, etc.

eBay & Amazon
eBay sells batteries and tires online that can be installed by its network of installers, and is expanding into other products with its o2o DIFM model.

Amazon is pursuing a more robust DIFM o2o approach through its Your Garage and Alexa features. Amazon sees the expansion of its position in the auto parts and repair market through o2o as an important step in its goal of serving all of the transportation needs of consumers.

Growing DIFM Market Coverage
Today, o2o auto repair focuses on basic maintenance and light repair, addressing the approximately one-third of the DIFM market.

However, enhanced vehicle diagnostics, artificial intelligence, intelligent components, and “big data” will expand the reach of o2o repair to more than half of the DIFM light vehicle market within the next few years.

One of the most significant benefits to consumers of the o2o auto repair model is the convenience of ordering parts and repairs online and avoiding unnecessary travel to brick-and-mortar outlets. o2o auto repair offers the added convenience of an Installer Network, enabling customers to choose the time and place of repair.

No-Hassle Installation
Using Installer Networks eliminates the hassle of Install-It-For-Me, when consumers purchase vehicle parts online and take to them to an outlet (that is not affiliated with the site where they bought parts), hoping that outlets will install them.

Trust is Emerging as a Critical Differentiator Between Generations
In its new nationwide study of consumers, Lang Marketing has found that Millennials and Gen Xers have more trust in purchasing auto repairs from platforms and large eSellers than in dealing directly with local repair shops.

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