In the early 2000s, having a presence online was enough to have a successful e-commerce business. Now, e-merchants are in a constant battle for every customer and it’s hard to compete on price alone. Also, chances are that your competitors are sourcing parts from the same distributors, leaving you very little space to differentiate.

Providing auto parts shoppers with a great user experience is the best way to win over customers. Customer satisfaction from using your website is what you need to boost your sales and get repeat purchases.

Let’s look into what industry leaders do to ease their customers' path to purchasing auto parts.

 

Examples of Successful Online Auto Parts Stores

CARiD

CARiD

When auto parts store owners tell us what their websites’ functionality must be like, CARiD is the one they most often use as a reference. The online store offers its customers different ways to navigate through the website:

1) They can start their shopping journey from the search bar and type the name of the part they need.

2) Users might select the year, make and model of their car at first and see what the website offers that match the vehicle.

3) Or they can drill-down the special pages – mini-stores – with each of them dedicated to a particular manufacture brand. Such a page has a brand-specific header image, features 5 best-selling products, and contains all the categories you can find auto parts for this brand.

CARiD product page

CARiD has several search features necessary for auto parts stores:

  1. Search box with advanced autocomplete
  2. Year/Make/Model widget
  3. Garage
  4. Top Categories section
  5. Mini-Stores
  6. Filtering interface
  7. Video Content
  8. Verify fitment widget

 

Advance Auto Parts

Advance Auto Parts

Advance Auto Parts is one of the oldest aftermarket parts providers. Their website has two sections on the home page that immediately catch the users’ eyes. First is a wide search box with an “Add a vehicle” button, which is a variation of the “my garage” feature. Second is an advanced form of the Year/Make/Model widget, with two extra dropdowns to select the type of the vehicle and its engine.

Advance Auto Parts Exact Fit

The site search on Advance Auto Parts also has such features as:

  1. Garage
  2. Search bar with advanced autocomplete and typo correction
  3. Year/Make/Model widget
  4. Top Categories
  5. Filtering interface
  6. Verify fitment widget

You may have noticed that both websites have a number of the same features, like Year/Make/Model lookup, garage, filters, etc. All of these are features that industry leaders have in common. A few of them, when combined, are usually called auto parts fitment search.

Now we will dig more into how these commonly used auto parts search features work.

 

10 Best Features for Online Auto Parts Stores

1. Year/Make/Model Lookup

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The users who shop for their car want to browse only the parts that will fit their vehicle – the Year/Make/Model Lookup lets them do just that. It enhances user experience and increases the time customers want to stay on the website. This feature ensures personalized search results according to a specific user’s car. After a customer specifies the vehicle, they see only the parts that are compatible with it.

The Year/Make/Model Lookup, or YMM widget, consists of three (or sometimes more) drop-downs selections: Make, Model, and Year. Customers choose among options that fit their vehicle, including the year it was assembled (1969), the manufacturer (Chevrolet), and the model (Camaro).

Why do you need this feature?

  • It customizes search results for a particular vehicle.
  • It increases users’ confidence in the products they’re browsing in the store.
  • It narrows down thousands of auto parts in the store to the number of those that fit the customer’s vehicle.

If your e-commerce store specializes in tires or wheels, you might need another type of widget. It can be a separate tires or wheels search or a more complex solution, referred to as wheels and tires YMM Search. The latter takes into account wheel or tire sizing and vehicle specifications, as well as up-sizing and down-sizing, to show relevant search results.

Wheels Search

 

2. My Garage

If you allow customers to select their vehicle and personalize search results accordingly, why not save it across all pages and sessions? “My Garage” features enable a customer to choose the year-make-model of their car and be sure that it will be pre-selected on all website pages. So, if users choose another category or open a different page, they don’t need to input vehicle information again.

When customers return to your e-commerce website later, their vehicles will still be saved in their “Garage”. There are two variations of this feature: single-vehicle and multi-vehicle garage. Single-vehicle saves only one year-make-model that can be changed by the user at any time. Multi-vehicle allows customers to add several vehicles’ specifications and switch between them.

Single Vehicle and Multi Vehicle Garage

Why do you need this feature?

  • It makes it easier for the customer to browse products and eliminates the need to re-specify the car every time a user refreshes or opens another page.
  • Customers’ vehicle information can be used for merchandising and marketing purposes. For instance, knowing what your users drive allows you to organize personalized email campaigns and create special offers.
  • Saved vehicle information can be used by e-merchants themselves. Before shipping out the order, the retailer can check that all parts ordered are compatible with the customer’s vehicle. If there is an issue with fitment, they can contact the customer to prevent a product return.

 

3. Filters

Product Filiters

Filters are another convenient way for users to navigate your auto parts store. The must-have practices for filtering interface are:

  • Category-specific filters
  • Clearly showing applied filters
  • Arranging filters in order most convenient and relevant for customers

Why do you need this feature?

A smart filtering interface is one of the fastest ways for users to find what they want, which significantly increases conversion.

 

4. Store Navigation

Store Navigation

Intuitive navigation around your website also works towards winning over a customer. The category structure on an auto parts selling website needs to have just the right number of categories to select. If there are too many category options and their arrangement is too vague, the user gets overwhelmed with choice and leaves for a website with a better structure.

But the number of categories shouldn’t be too small either. When there are only 2-3 broad categories and you sell thousands of auto parts, it’s difficult for users to find what they need. Even the best mechanics and car enthusiasts can get lost in a poorly structured website with thousands of items.

There are two major ways to organize category hierarchy in the menu. The first one suggests users choose among vehicles, then product type category. The second type of navigation makes the user start from choosing the product type category, then subcategory, and after that, the user’s vehicle.

Why do you need this feature?

Clean and convenient navigation around your website won’t distract, but on the contrary will lead to purchasing more auto parts.

 

5. Category Selection Page

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These are special pages in your store dedicated to a particular vehicle, which displays only the categories and subcategories customers can find products for that selected vehicle within. For instance, on the First Place Auto Parts website, there are only two categories available to choose from for parts for the 1961 Chevrolet Impala: “Brake System” and “Exterior & Body.”

Why do you need this feature?

It makes browsing around the website more comfortable for a user.

 

6. Verify Fitment

There are many ways users can get to a product page in an auto parts store: from browsing your website directly, Google search, targeted advertising, and more. And they won’t have a pre-selected vehicle saved in the garage. That’s when verify fitment comes handy. This widget allows users to check whether the item is compatible with their vehicle or not, directly on the product page. It can also be placed on the checkout page, so the user can ensure that fitment is right before completing the order.

Verify Fitment Widget

Why do you need this feature?

  • It increases customers' confidence in the auto parts compatibility.
  • It minimizes product returns.

 

7. Fitment Compatibility Table

The table or listing with data on vehicle fitment can be placed in the description section of a product page. It is another way to help your customers become sure of the parts they plan to purchase. If they don’t want to select the Year/Make/Model, it’s easier for them to look through the table.

Fitment Compatibility Table

Why do you need this feature?

It improves your customer’s confidence in a convenient way, giving them a different option to verify fitment.

 

8. Universal Auto Parts

It’s common for an auto parts store to have a large variety of products. Lighting, maintenance, and merchandise products are often non-vehicle specific. That’s why you need to mark products as universal, so they will be shown to customers no matter which vehicle they choose in the Year/Make/Model selector.

Universal Auto Parts

Another nuance of universal parts comes into play when auto parts websites sell parts for various sub-models. For example, a store has auto parts that will fit all 2013 Jeep Wrangler JK models, regardless of what its sub-model is. If the e-commerce website has a universal auto parts feature, whether the customer selects Rubicon, Sahara, or another sub-model, they will see every part that fits their vehicle.

Why do you need this feature?

  • It increases product visibility.
  • It encourages a buyer’s conversion.

 

9. YMM-based Product Recommendations

Product recommendations are a great tool for increasing the average order value, but a regular e-commerce application usually doesn’t take into account the user’s vehicle, instead showcasing products for other cars. YMM-based product recommendations suggest to customers only those auto parts that are compatible with their car or truck. When users see relevant auto parts in the “You May Also Like” section, they stay longer on your website and take time to explore the market.

In the past, all of the name brand sites and for some products on Amazon today have had a Similar Items carousel preceding the main product information. Today's preference in placement has shifted, and the main product information for the name brands is before the Similar Items carousel.

Recommended Products

Why do you need this feature?

  • It presents you with personalized upselling opportunities.
  • It works to improve customer satisfaction.

 

10. Mobile-Friendly

In these times, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, so it’s obvious that your website must be comfortable for users to shop from their smartphones on. As the latest research by Hedges & Company states, auto parts e-commerce websites have more than 65% of total traffic on mobile devices. And this trend in online shopping will continue to grow.

Naturally, auto part fitment search should also be responsive for users to adjust and navigate search results comfortably. Here you can see examples of how the year-make-model widget and filtering interface can adapt to the small screen:

Responsive Auto Parts Websites

Why do you need this feature?

Responsive design ensures that you won’t lose customers from mobile traffic.

 

Bonus Feature: Visual Content

When users shop online and can’t inspect a product with their own eyes, great product pictures are a must to boost e-commerce sales. Images and videos are much more convincing than text and stimulate purchases.

The effectiveness of website navigation also improves if you provide visual content. See how Custom Auto Parts made their product pictures more engaging by highlighting parts on actual vehicles.

Product Pictures

Stage 3 Motorsports adds video content to product pages so customers have more opportunities to learn about parts they intend to buy.

Product Videos

Why do you need this feature?

  • It improves product visibility in search results.
  • It increases engagement.

 

Can I Get It on 3dcart?

All features mentioned above can be installed in your 3dcart store. And, from our experience with different auto parts retailers, we know that 3dcart has its unique advantages over other e-commerce platforms.

 

Moving Forward

Auto parts fitment search helps to create a better shopping experience for your current and potential customers. Depending on your website needs, you may not need all the features from this list. But, by implementing auto parts search, you’ll increase users’ loyalty and have an advantage over other aftermarket parts retailers. We hope our suggestions were helpful, showed what your online store was missing, or inspired your website enhancement.