The growing digital age in which we live has certainly created enormous new trends in retail shopping. High street stores and start-up businesses have migrated to the online world, in search of customers further afield. Admittedly, there is little wonder with spiralling costs of rent, staff and taxes on the High Street. Even larger firms have opted to outsource some services entirely into the digital dimension.
Amongst this ever-expanding mass of e-matter is the sale of vehicle spares and parts. Retailers like Euro Car Parts trade with stand-alone websites, whilst others opt for the platform of eBay. The question remains though, what would happen if a car manufacturer began to outsource their parts and merchandise departments into the realms of eBay stores?
Indeed Suzuki GB PLC is to become the latest manufacturer to experiment in this field. The manufacturer’s UK base has decided to launch the new major sales channel in an effort to cut costs and revolutionise the parts and merchandise sales industry. The online eBay store will visually appear similar to Suzuki’s own official site, with many familiar features integrated, offering products ranging from brake pads to Suzuki branded clothing. Two sites will be offered in the mix, one for cars and the other for motorcycles.
Unlike other competitors, sales will be processed by all franchised dealers across the UK network, not affecting revenue for identical products under the previous regime. Furthermore, all parts are guaranteed to be of genuine quality and shall be offered at an identical retail price as to the physical dealership. Naturally, a 14-day returns policy guarantees that any rights of the customer are upheld should a part or product prove unsatisfactory or faulty.
The icing on the cake though is the free postage and packaging offered to all customers who purchase from the new eBay store. Indeed this is a service not offered by the rivalling BMW Direct store, which offers a flat fee of £1.99 regardless of the amount of items purchased. In a practicality sense, the customer can obviously not only purchase products at the click of a mouse, but can also save the fuel and effort otherwise spent driving to the local dealership.
Although this project is the result of a successful pilot scheme within Suzuki GB PLC, the idea of a motoring manufacturer’s online eBay shop in the United Kingdom is certainly not entirely within unchartered waters. BMW pioneered this method, branded BMW Direct, offering genuine parts and products since 2011. The business plan here involves products ordered online via the online auction site, storage and shipping provided by BMW’s official UK warehouses, and transactions managed by their Park Lane dealership. Whilst this model is fairly faultless, Suzuki’s offer of free postage has rendered BMW’s offer expensive. Although BMW Direct’s offer of £1.99 for postage, regardless of the amount ordered, is still rather reasonable.
Nissan GB also later jumped on the bandwagon in 2012 with the Nissan GB Official Store. Similarly to BMW and Suzuki, genuine parts and merchandise are offered with a suitable warranty period.
The question remains though as to why eBay remains the ideal platform for such an endeavour. Put simply, the cost of the online auction site’s fees and handling certainly are preferable to a manufacturer hiring a new dedicated team. Plus, eBay is the most popular site for online sales in the UK, with the Motoring section proving the most lucrative. So on that basis alone, this venture is interesting. Some might even question as to why a dealership will not entirely outsource and sell cars via the same platform too. Maybe it’s due to traditional car sales formats appearing more trustworthy and professional at this time, not to mention the need for face-to-face reassurance from a dealer.
Any negative judgements aside, Suzuki’s latest venture into the realm of eBay parts and merchandise sales is certainly an example of the motoring industry dipping its toes and testing the waters. With competition flocking to this new format, time will tell if this idea can remain lucrative and practical.