The Rise of Online Car Parts Retailers

In the B2C E-Commerce car parts trade, some companies have made a name for themselves by providing a professional service that can rival traditional parts wholesalers. Autodoc, for instance, has numerous webshops and boasts a total European turnover of one billion euros. It accounts for around 20 to 25 percent of the German market share, alongside other significant players such as Kfz-Teile24, ATP-Autoteile, and Bandel, which are part of international purchasing cooperatives. However, compared to nationwide sales of established companies like Stahlgruber or WM SE, the pure online players seem to be in the middle of the pack.

Targeting Workshops: A New Customer Base

Although the growth of online retailers has slowed down compared to the early 2010s, they have found a new target audience to pursue. Online retailers are increasingly targeting workshops as their customers to counteract the natural saturation point of the DIY share. For instance, Kfz-Teile24 now delivers directly to workshops in eastern Germany, and Autodoc plans to do the same in France, potentially setting a model for other markets.

B2B Online Purchases: A Growing Trend

In fact, some car parts B2C E-Commerce retailers already generate up to a third of their revenue from workshop customers. According to a 2020 survey, independent workshops attribute 4.2% of their purchases to online shops, expected to increase to 6.9% by 2025, a 60% growth.  B2B customers are drawn to online retailers’ low prices, finding traditional dealers lacking in availability and competitiveness. As the age of vehicles increases and the general economic situation worsens, B2B online purchases are expected to grow.

Challenges of Entering Traditional Business

However, the entry of online retailers into traditional business is not without its challenges. The original online business model had a low-cost structure and uniform processes that are easy to automate and scale. However, with an offline business, the costs and process complexity increase. Online players must provide excellent services to remain competitive long-term, not just as a temporary parts alternative. Furthermore, traditional dealers are responding to the growing price sensitivity by offering private labels.

Competition in the Car Parts Distribution

In conclusion, the competition among parts dealers will continue to rise. And new players can have a chance to gain entry through niches if they can offer price advantages through procurement and process optimization. Whether they can hold and expand their position in the long term depends on serving workshop needs. Additionally, B2B online purchases will grow with aging vehicles and worsening economy.

For more information on the Automotive Aftermarket E-Commerce situation in Europe, please refer to our After Sales ACCESS Database “E-Commerce Insights”.